The Vibe and Catch of La Jolla Cove

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Published on June 2, 2022 4:12:03 PM PDT June 2, 2022 4:12:03 PM PDTnd, June 2, 2022 4:12:03 PM PDT

As we paddle along the border to one of the Seven Sea Caves of La Jolla Cove, my tour guide points to the cliff above us and shares how past access to this cave was via a 60-foot descent by rope. Those who took the risk were bootleggers who stored whiskey in the cave during prohibition. Nearly 100 years later, my Everyday California kayak group stared at the enormous swells thrashing angrily against rock walls at the entrance, while swirling rips threatened the lives of anyone who dared venture inside. It was obvious we were not welcome in this cave, so we kayaked away, alongside sea lions that frolicked near the La Jolla Shores.

La Jolla Cove

My kayak bobbed under the sun’s warm rays as I stared, mesmerized, toward the pristine shore as I reminisced on my experience in La Jolla. On Friday evening, I arrived in time for dinner at Whisknladle, one of a plethora of casual, yet upscale dining options in an area known for its local catch and great social vibe. A glass of Chablis paired well with an amuse bouche of gruyere gougères and pink lady apple salad with walnuts, while my main course of scallops with sweet-glazed cubes of pork belly implied I’d landed in foodie heaven.

However, La Jolla presented much more than local, fresh catch, but a feeling of living the good life. As a guest of the Balinese-inspired Pantai Inn, located a mere 20-minutes from San Diego, a Mercedes SUV was available on-call to deliver me in front of my second-floor bungalow. Inside, a full kitchen, living room with a view of La Jolla Cove, and a bedroom with a four-posted bed garlanded in white fish netting added to the centering energy flow. The ease of a timer-dialed gas fireplace set the stage for a relaxed mood throughout my stay; I felt calm, yet adventurous.

By morning, following a short stop in the courtyard for a buffet breakfast with an ocean view, I jogged across the street to walk the cove where sea lions and seals sunbathed on rocks below, and further down where surfers glided across tunnels of waves. Nature’s eye candy lured me to continue my exploration with a walk across town, past bustling downtown shops, art galleries, La Jolla murals, Spanish architecture -- to lunch at Galaxy Taco. Surrounded by walls of Mexican-inspired graffiti, I sat inside to sip a margarita and munch house-made blue chips dipped in award-worthy guacamole made with a kick of Serrano pepper. I ate so much guacamole I could barely finish two of the best tacos I’d ever tasted: one crispy fish taco and a carnitas. Before dinner, I had walked off the calories from lunch in time to meet up with a friend for cocktails at La Valencia hotel’s lounge, where its nightclub entertainment offered a bit of time travel with two performers who channeled Dean Martin in “Mambo Italiano” and Edith Piaf in “La Vie en Rose”.

My final night concluded with an all-star dining experience at George’s at the Cove, where I highly recommend a starter bowl of tender octopus mixed with bits of andouille sausage for added spice, and the entrée of local, fresh yellowtail. The takeaway of La Jolla is that its weather is perfect year-round, as is the farm and ocean-to-table dining. Add to this the serenity of a stay at Pantai Inn and the unparalleled hospitality from everyone you encounter within this beach town, and you’ll want to visit time and time again, much like Dr. Seuss, who moved to La Jolla, where he penned “The Cat in The Hat” and more tall tales.

About the Author: Charlene is a travel and food writer located in the Boston area. Contact via email: