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La Jolla Children’s Pool

The Children’s Pool on Coast Blvd. in La Jolla, CA is a small beach partially protected by a seawall.  The original intention of this area was to create a fully protected ocean swimming area devoted to children; however, now the beach is home to many seals, as the sand has filled in most of the area inside the wall.

The main attraction at the Children’s Pool is the constant presence of these harbor seals on the beach.  During much of the year, they crawl onto the sand to sunbathe, and are often mistaken for piles of kelp upon first glance!  Seal Rock is just to the north where these animals also sunbathe, and is easily visible from the breakwater nearby.

seacolonyThese marine mammals are fully protected by federal law and harassing any marine life is prohibited. In 1997, high pollution levels attributed to the marine mammals, mostly their animal waste, closed the waters to swimmers at the beach entirely.  A rope was put up half way down the beach to prohibit people from going in the water and from disrupting the animals’ natural habitat.  Advocates for returning the area back to a true “Children’s Pool” have requested that the city clean up the water. In 2004, one plan called for dredging the beach to allow tidal flow to flush the area and improve water quality. Environmental groups have argued that such a plan would push the seals out of the area and violate the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act

La Jolla Seals — Childrens Pool and the controversy

After claims that the rope barrier made the beach a “private” beach since there was no public access, the City took down the rope in July of 2004.  Today, the beach is open to the public and attracts many visitors each year. But high pollution levels and the presence of seals make swimming a poor idea. In fact, a sign present on the lifeguard tower reads “swimming is allowed, but not advised.  Bacteria levels exceed health standards.”  In addition, animal activists are usually present daily with signs discouraging people from going into the water. These activists often draw a raked line in the sand at the Children’s Pool to discourage people from interacting with the seals.

In March of 2008, a federal appeals court stated that San Diego could reinstate the guideline rope along the beach during each pupping season. This came after a tumultuous year of court hearings, protests, and threats against activists.

Despite its controversy, the Children’s Pool is a fabulous little beach, closed off from the wind and surf by high rock cliffs and the sea wall. The Children’s Pool is one of the points of interest on our La Jolla kayak tour. You can even walk along the breakwater for a close up view of these harbor seals on your own! Get the full details of the Children’s Pool on our San Diego bike tours. Our bike tours stop at the Children’s Pool and your tour guide will give you all the details on this local spot.