La Jolla: The jewel of San Diego

Torrey Pines Beach looking South -Courtesy Lisa Field

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There are many treasures of this Mediterranean-style village that make La Jolla one of the most sought-after holiday destinations in Southern California: luxurious and historic hotels and resorts; fine dining with ocean views; retail shopping that rivals  Rodeo Drive; sophisticated arts and culture, and a beautiful setting complemented by endless outdoor recreational activities.

Add to this mix a rich history with numerous famous residents, from Gregory Peck to Ted Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss), and some of the nation’s leading scientific research centres, including the Salk Institute and the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, and visitors can experience an unparalleled leisure holiday.

The following are just some of the diverse offerings of La Jolla (pronounced “La Hoya”; translated from Spanish as “the jewel”) that guests can experience throughout the year.

Beaches and water activities

  •  Lifeguards watch over families splashing in the rocky shallows off La Jolla Cove, a small patch of sand tucked between sandstone cliffs. This area’s views are a favourite subject of photographers and painters from around the world.
  • The Children’s Pool, a small picturesque beach with a panoramic view that is partially protected by a large seawall, is just south of La Jolla Cove. The Pool’s original intent was to be a protected swimming area for children, but sand has filled in much of the area inside the wall. Today, the beach is a popular home for hundreds of seals, and Seal Rock, a reserve for these marine mammals, is located just offshore.
  • South of La Jolla Village, Windansea Beach is best known for its beautiful scenery and hard-breaking surf due to huge underwater reefs. Sunbathing is popular here, as large sandstone rocks create a secluded setting. Windansea is also home to a Polynesian-style surf hut, built in 1947 by pioneer Windansea surfers and registered as a San Diego Historic Site. Today, the hut provides an excellent vantage point for watching the surfers and sunbathers below.
  • North of La Jolla Village, La Jolla Shores was once recognised by the Travel Channel as one of the most family-friendly beaches in San Diego County. A wide boardwalk, which separates the beach from a large grassy park ideal for picnicking and volleyball games, parallels its mile-long sandy shore.
  • Kayaking is popular along La Jolla Shores, as guests can paddle during low tide to La Jolla Caves to the south and Scripps Pier to the north. Rentals are available and daily guided tours are provided by a number of companies including Hike Bike Kayak Inc.
  • The world’s first all-women’s surf school, Surf Diva promotes, teaches and supports surfing for women (and men) of all ages with surf camps and private and coed lessons.
  • La Jolla Underwater Park and Ecological Preserve is a popular recreational area for scuba divers and snorkellers who can encounter the protected marine life in some of California’s clearest coastal waters.
  • Blacks Beach, a 3.2-kilometre-long sandy strip situated at the base of majestic cliffs, is north of La Jolla Shores and part of Torrey Pines State Beach. Because the cliffs tower up to 90 metres high, access to the beach is limited and difficult. The beauty and privacy of Blacks Beach have made it popular for nude sunbathing, a practice that is not officially sanctioned but prevalent.

Recreational activities

  • Twelve championship tennis courts are available to visitors at The La Jolla Tennis Club, nestled in the village of La Jolla and host to tournament play since 1917. Also, the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club resort offers championship tennis courts available to guests and members.
  • Set above Blacks Beach to the north of the Village, the Torrey Pines Gliderport has been the learning place for aviation greats including the Lindberghs, Boyles and many more. The Gliderport was first established as a soaring site in 1928 and has defined the history of motorless flight. Today, the Gliderport offers hang gliding, paragliding, scale models and sailplane flight.
  • At Torrey Pines Golf Course, home of the 2008 US Open, golfers marvel at the views of the coastline atop cliffs towering above the Pacific Ocean just north of La Jolla. Long recognised as one of the nation’s foremost municipal golf facilities, it is truly a golfer’s paradise. Torrey Pines hosts the annual Famers Insurance Open every January.
  • Torrey Pines State Reserve is an 810-hectare reserve dedicated to preserving its namesake, the Torrey Pine tree, and other indigenous wildlife in its native environment. Visitors hike the 12 kilometres of trails encountering native chaparral plants, wildflowers, birds, reptiles and butterflies. The reserve includes a visitor centre and is host to guided nature walks on weekends and holidays to a vista point overlooking Los Peñasquitos Lagoon and the ocean.
  • Visitors and locals alike enjoy a walk through the Village of La Jolla any time of day. A car is not required to experience different aspects of this coastal community. Shopping, galleries, dining, museums, hotels, beach activities and natural beauty can all be found within the eight-kilometre radius of the Village proper. Guided, historic tours and hikes are available from local companies.

Resorts and hotels

  • Set on 2.6 hectares in La Jolla overlooking the Pacific Ocean and adjacent to the 18th green of the Torrey Pines Golf Course, the Lodge at Torrey Pines is a AAA Five Diamond luxury resort that combines the elegance of Craftsman-style design with exceptional amenities, such as guaranteed tee times for guests, which are almost impossible to secure otherwise. The resort features 175 luxury guest rooms, a full service spa, the A.R. Valentien restaurant and an outdoor swimming pool with trellised cabanas.
  • Nestled on the coastal cliffs of La Jolla, Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa boasts 210 rooms tucked away on a secluded estate. The spa’s lush features include a sanctuary garden of eucalyptus, lavender and citrus trees, which create a peaceful environment to stimulate the senses, as well as an outdoor fireplace, saltwater Jacuzzi and moisturising eucalyptus steam room. Three ranch-inspired restaurant and lounge options offer farm-fresh menus, handcrafted cocktails and an extensive wine library of California wines.
  • Often called “The Jewel of La Jolla” and “The Pink Lady”, the historic La Valencia Hotel overlooks La Jolla Cove and the Pacific Ocean. Designed with European flair, the hotel’s 113 rooms and ocean villas are richly appointed and provide spectacular ocean views. La Valencia is a member of Preferred Hotels Worldwide and features an outdoor heated pool, fitness centre and meeting space with ocean views. In fall 2013 the hotel opened Café La Rue, a casual coastal bistro with bar and patio seating. Chef Daniel Barron oversees new menus for Café La Rue, the Mediterranean Room and Ocean Terrace as well as La Sala lounge.
  • The Grande Colonial, a 2011 AAA Four Diamond winner, is an elegant European-style boutique hotel with 93 rooms and suites located one block from the ocean on Prospect Street. Amenities include an outdoor, ocean-view swimming pool surrounded by gardens and terraces, a rooftop deck with a library and boardroom and the award-winning Nine-Ten Restaurant.
  • The La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club is an oceanfront resort located on La Jolla Shores that combines the charm of Old World Mexico with modern-day luxuries. The property offers a private beach, championship tennis courts, par-three golf course, massage services and dining at its seaside Marine Room restaurant.
  • The 108-room Hotel La Jolla, a member of the Curio Collection by Hilton, features contemporary boutique design with state-of-the-art amenities, a fitness centre, new pool deck and lounge and pet-friendly accommodations. On the hotel’s 11th floor, guests can dine at Cusp, offering panoramic Pacific Ocean views, craft cocktails and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine.

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La Jolla Shores Scripps Pier Bathers -Courtesy

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