Childrens Pool Beach
The Childrens Pool Beach is famous for the seawall
and the seals & sea lions that lounge within.
The Childrens Pool beach is located at 850 Coast Boulevard, near the intersection of Jenner St. If you walk southward from La Jolla Cove, you will quickly see the elegant, 300-foot, C-shaped seawall that protrudes out from the shoreline. At a closer range, you will notice oddly-shaped logs on the beach. These in fact, are seals & sea lions!
Currently, this beach is a bit of a misnomer: children cannot really play or swim here because seals & sea lions have taken over. Seals & sea lions are not particularly dangerous or threatening (in fact, they are afraid of you); however, they do poop in the water causing high levels of coliform bacteria. As well, during the pupping season, the Pinnepeds are more aggressive because they are protective of their young. They do bite, so do not approach them and certainly do not try to pet them.
So what can you do here if you cannot swim and play at the beach?
It is quite exciting to walk along the seawall. Descend the stairs just south of the lifeguard station and walk onto the seawall. Expect to get wet and use your judgement. If the ocean waves appear violent, don't go - just enjoy the sights & sounds from where you are. Most people will wander onto the seawall part-way but the adventurous souls will surely go to the very tip of the structure.
Watch the seals & seal lions. These Pinnepeds are fun loving creatures. Some swim & frolics in the water while others sunbathe & nap on the sandy beach. During the pupping season, you can see adult seals helping their young swim and maneuver among the waves. Sometimes you can see the adults coax their young onto the beach in a manner similar to adult humans coaxing their kids into bed.
The Childrens Pool Beach has a vibrant and ongoing history that divides San Diegans even today. The seawall was completed in 1933 and sand was imported to make a safe and enjoyable beach for children. Initially, this man-made cove was used by families & children as intended.
Wild seals & seal lions are commonly seen at Seal Rock, a large rock approximately 100 yards away from the seawall. In the 1990's, SeaWorld began to release rescued seals at Seal Rock. These rehabilitated seals were comfortable with humans and swam near the Childrens Pool Beach. In time, wild seals joined in and the beach began to harbor more and more Pinnepeds. In short, the sandy beach and the protection offered by the seawall attracted seals & sea lions and their young.
Humans and Pinnepeds cannot both be on the beach, so who gets to stay?
In 1999, the National Marine Fisheries Service recognized that the beach had become a natural harbor-seal haulout (place where they breed and produce young). Although seals are not an endangered species, they are protected by the Federal Marine Mammal Protection Act. During the pupping season, a rope was used to section-off parts of the beach so that people do not disturb the Pinnepeds. However, by law, this was inappropriate because Childrens Pool Beach is a public beach. Thus, humans should have access to the Children's Pool Beach regardless of the Pinnepeds' needs. Photo: seals and sea lions still occupy Children's Pool Beach in 2008.
In contrast, some argue that the Childrens Pool Beach was designed for children and should remain so. Ellen Browning Scripps had donated much money for the construction of the seawall and advocates declare that her will and wish should be upheld. Photo: Children's Pool Beach in the 1990's from sandiego.gov.
In addition, shoo-ing away the seals & sea lions would not cause them much harm. The Pinnepeds can still haulout at Seal Rock. Some studies suggest that there are about 500
to over 1000 other haulout sites in California. So, given that the seals can go elsewhere, why not give the beach back to the Children as it had been intended?
Photo: Seal Rock is about 100 yards from the seawall.
In addition to removing the seals & sea lions, there is another suggestion to remove 3000 cubic yards of sand so that the increase in water flow will flush out the biological contaminants. Much has happened since the seawall was built. See timeline and ongoing legal debates.
As of this day, the seals & sea lions continue to lounge and frolic at the Children's Pool Beach. Visitors enjoy seeing the wild life up close and most locals are tolerant of the seals presence. A small but vocal group of activist are campaigning for the rights of people over seals.
Those in favor of seals & sea lions will post signs and flyers informing people that the seals & sea lions are not to be disturbed. Such posters and signs are actually not sanctioned nor approved by the City of San Diego.
What Else is There To Do
Once you have had our fill of seals, sea lions, and ocean spray, you can head inland 2 blocks and explore trendy, downtown La Jolla. Or continue walking south on Coast Blvd and see the rock climbing wall at Wipeout Beach and the Wedding Bowl at Coast Blvd Park. The Museum of Contemporary Art is also very close to here. don't forget about the Living Room a coffee shop/eatery cool eatery.
Location, Parking and Bathrooms
The Children's Pool Beach is near the corner of Jenner St and Coast Blvd. It is south of La Jolla Cove. There is street parking only and these are often full. You can find paid parking or metered parking in downtown La Jolla. Bathrooms are under the lifeguard station. Porta-pottys are also avaialbe.