Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Cave?
The Sunny Jim Sea Cave is a 200,000-year-old naturally formed sea cave that is accessible through a man-made tunnel. This tunnel begins inside of the Cave Store, the longest-running business in La Jolla, where tourists have been invited to descend the tunnel into the sea cave since 1902.
La Jolla's geography is defined by its sea caves (did you know there are seven in total?), which are hotspots for kayaking and snorkeling. However, the Sunny Jim sea cave is the only one accessible by land. In fact, this is the only land accessible sea cave in all of California!
This sea cave was infamously used for illicit activities in its early history. Historians believe that smugglers of alcohol, opium, and Chinese immigrants hid their boats inside the cave and used the tunnel as an entry point into San Diego.
What can I expect during my visit?
A typical visit to the sea cave takes ten to fifteen minutes for a round trip. You’ll enter the tunnel through the Cave Store and begin to descend the 144 stairs leading to a lookout point inside the Sea Cave. From the observation deck located inside the cave, you may take in the breathtaking views of La Jolla Cove through the mouth of Sunny Jim’s Sea Cave. Exit back up through the tunnel into the shop.
How much is admission?
Admission costs $5 for adults, $3 for anyone 3-17 years old.
Are there any discounts?
$1 off for local students with proof of ID (this applies to San Diego schools only, such as SDSU, UCSD, USD, SDCCD, etc.)
Negotiable group discounts apply to groups of fifteen or more people if booked ahead of time. To see if you qualify, please email us at at least two weeks before your visit.
How can I prepare for my trip to the cave?
We love that you asked that!
First of all, we ask everyone entering the cave to read over an outline of risks and safety guidelines before heading down as well as sign a waiver of liability. You can do this ahead of time here.
Please bear in mind that you will be walking up and down 145 stairs that are often slippery from the moisture seeping through the porous sandstone cliffs and into the tunnel. We recommend wearing close-toed, comfortable shoes with good grip. While you will get a bit of a workout on the stairs, the tunnel and cave are typically quite a bit cooler than the outside temperature, so layers can often be a good idea (light jacket or hoodie).
No bathing suit is necessary.
Finally, there is no public restroom on-site at the Cave Store (although one can be found a 5 minutes walk away at Scripps Park), so please prepare accordingly.
Is there anyone who shouldn’t attempt to visit the cave?
Because there are 144 stairs leading from the store to the cave that visitors must ascend in order to exit the cave, anyone who is not physically fit enough to do so should abstain from visiting the cave.
The cave may not be suitable for the elderly, obese people, pregnant women, very young children, anyone with preexisting health conditions that make the act of climbing stairs difficult, and/or anyone with a history of claustrophobia. Please consult your physician if you yourself cannot determine if you are physically fit enough to visit the cave.
If I pay admission can I access the water to swim in the cave?
No. We prohibit jumping off of the observation deck in the sea cave as it can be highly dangerous. There is no lifeguard readily available inside of the sea cave. While you cannot jump off of the deck into the water, anyone is welcome to explore the cave from the water if they enter from the other side. If you would like to swim at La Jolla Cove, we recommend accessing the beach at the Children’s Pool near Scripps Park.
Can I rent kayaks/book kayak tours at the Cave Store?
The Cave Store does not offer kayak rentals or kayak tours. For the best experience kayaking around La Jolla Cove, book a tour through one of the kayak companies at La Jolla Shores.