Sea Caves of La Jolla

We had been looking forward to seeing the La Jolla sea caves for some time. Unfortunately we learned that this could not be done without a guide present so I started the research to find a company that would allow us to take our Sea Eagle out on the tour.  After some phone calls I found one that would allow this and took out small groups only (just what I wanted to hear) but decided we would rent a double instead due to parking restrictions in La Jolla.  Didn’t want to be truckin’ the darn thing several blocks after inflating her on the street.  Nina and Paul were game to kayak as well as they had not seen the sea caves either.

Let me start by saying that the weather was pretty darn perfect.  A sunny, calm 80° day could not be better.  You see a ‘but’ coming here, don’t you?  We did have a good day, in large part due to the company (Nina and Paul), and that we were wintering in San Diego on a gorgeous day and on the water.  BUT I cannot recommend taking a kayak tour to the sea caves.  I will not mention any company names because I suspect they are all the same.  All four of us agreed that many times tours can be a disappointment, too commercial, too many people.

Kayaking La Jolla Shores
Looks like Paul is slackin' a bit.

We paddled out to the caves in a group, feeling more like we were playing a game of kayak bumper cars, dodging  left and right.  The small group we were expecting turned out to be more like 15-20 kayaks, what appeared to be the largest of the tour companies out there.  The rented kayaks did not have a keel so the steering could be a challenge.  Picture 15-20 kayaks, with mostly novice kayakers in them, bobbing out on the Pacific.  Now put a paddle in those kayakers’ hands and tell them to paddle a straight line out to the caves.  Guess what you get?  I don’t even have to tell you, do I?

Kayaking at the sea caves
Traffic jam at the sea caves

We all made it safely to the caves and proceeded to get into a long line behind other tour companies waiting to get in (only two kayaks allowed at a time  and only one cave available for viewing).  The four of us were among the last of our group to enter, behind our guide.  It doesn’t take much to paddle into the cave and as soon as we got into it our guide said “paddle backward once on your left and three times forward on your right”.  This positioned us heading  back out of the cave.  We foolishly thought we were going to go in further backwards to see something spectacular that we could not be seen going in forward.  What we heard next was “now paddle out”.  That was it!  If we had blinked we would have missed it.

Look ma, no paddles in the water!

When heading back to shore, we had the pleasure of having four common dolphins swim very close to our kayak. Unfortunately we were not able to grab any photos but this, along with the sea lions we saw on the rocks, probably were the highlights of our time on the water.

Sea lions at La Jolla sea caves
Sea lions sunning. Noisy little fellas they are.

We had decided on lunch after but none of us had planned to get wet (go figure) so didn’t have a change of clothes.  Not to worry as we sat outdoors at a little Vietnamese restaurant and dried out.  Great conversation and great soup rounded out the day.  We said our goodbyes with the hopes of a hike in our future.

Back at home, over a glass of wine, Terry and I had a good laugh as we went over our 30 seconds in the sea cave.  Not the best part of our day but a very good day overall and we would definitely go back out to La Jolla Shores for more kayaking, BUT in our Sea Eagle AND sans guide.

If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to my blog via feed reader or e-mail?

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore ~ #3

There are a total of six lighthouses placed in strategic points among the Apostle Islands. While here we were able to take a ferry to Raspberry Island and tour their newly renovated lighthouse.

Raspberry Island sits 1.5 miles from the mainland and is 1/2 mile in width at its widest, making it one of the smallest of the Apostle Islands.  It was judged to be the perfect location for the second lighthouse.  Sitting on a bluff at the southwest point of the island, this lighthouse served double duty by showing the way to westbound ships passing Bayfield and directing eastbound ships between Bear and York Islands and into the channel around the mainland to Bayfield.

Raspberry Island Lighthouse cost $6,000 to build and its lantern was first lit in 1863. The current standing lighthouse was completed in 1906.  The light of its lantern (5th order fresnel) can be seen for 10 miles and it flashes once every 60 seconds.  W learned that each lighthouse lantern flashes at a different interval so sailors know which lighthouse they are looking at.

A 3/4 mile trek takes you down to the beach.  Looking from any direction you can see islands dotting the channel.   We are still astounded at just how clear the water is, unlike many other lakes we have encountered.

What Terry and I most wanted to see were the sea caves.  Water is such a powerful force and what the waves have done to the sandstone shoreline, both the thawing and freezing action over centuries, is amazing!  Probably the best way to see these is to go with an outfitter or use your own sea kayak and get up close and personal.  This can be dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing, particularly during specific times of the year.  We were approaching the end of the season for sea kayaking so we decided to take a trail off of the mainland to get a bird’s-eye view instead.  We have been told that some of the best sea caves of the Great Lakes are located on the shorelines of the Apostle Islands.

We were pleased to have another couple join us for our hike, a couple we met while Terry was attempting to maneuver the rig into our site.  They are from Iowa and have been full-timing for the 1.5 years.  We were able to glean a great deal of information from them that will be helpful to us and all had a chance to laugh at some of the goofy things we have both done while on this journey.  We are thoroughly enjoying their company and feel we have developed a new friendship.

Janie & John

Probably the most photographed and the most impressive sea caves are those on Devil’s Island and Sand Island, but those we were able to see from the mainland were dramatic as well.

Kayakers Investigating Sea Caves
The Power of Water
Sandstone and Verdant Forest
Me & Janie Enjoying our Hike

From here we are headed to Houghton, Michigan and are pleased that John and Janie were planning a trip there as well.  We are looking forward to creating a few more memories together.