Escape to unspoiled Blacks Beach CA in La Jolla, California. Hike on sandy beaches as paragliding pilots soar overhead on winds lifted by 320 foot cliffs.
When I want a change of scenery, I head for unspoiled Blacks Beach CA.
Soaring paragliders float through the air on windy days.
Wide, sandy beaches welcome beachcombers.
Tall, sandstone cliffs punctuate the sky.
The tall cliffs and Scripps Coastal Reserve offer protection from development on Blacks Beach CA.
The only construction on this stretch of sandy beach is a space-age looking circular structure near the southern boundary.
While this spaceship-style guesthouse on the beach is captivating, my eyes are drawn to the undulating cliffs of ochre, browns, and yellows.
And when the winds are strong enough, adventurous pilots guide parasailing kites along the winds.
It's awesome to watch as the kites catch the uplifting winds from the tall cliffs.
Blacks Beach, CA
The sandy beaches of Blacks Beach CA can be accessed several ways.
The southern beach entrance and northern beach entrance require low tides because ocean waves and tidal action can cover, and block the rock-strewn walking paths.
Be aware that these paths require good physical fitness. Sturdy walking shoes are recommended for these rugged paths which are covered with large and small boulders and rocks.
When I take these paths, I often use both hands to support me and to help me balance as I gingerly place my feet on the uneven path of rocks, cobbles, pebbles and gravel. Sometimes, when the boulders get large, I have to crouch down, sit on a rock, and slide forward, just to move forward along. Not exactly elegant, but it gets the job done.
All of this work is worth it because the sandy beaches of Blacks Beach, CA are banked by beautiful sandstone cliffs that soar over 300 feet high. The views of the cliffs against the blue sky are worth seeing.
It is also advised to time your beach visit during daylight hours. You want good light when you climb over the rocks and stones on the beach trails at the southern and northern entrances.
The southern beach entrance begins just north of Scripps Beach and Scripps Pier. The northern beach entrance begins at Torrey Pines State Park.
Tides at Blacks Beach CA
As you may know, tides vary from location to location. High tide and low tide will occur at different times in different coastal cities. It's best to find tide charts that measure tidal heights near your chosen beach. Blacks Beach, CA is close to the Scripps Pier, so I look at tidal charts specific to Scripps Pier when I go to Blacks Beach.
Low tide Blacks Beach south entrance
In San Diego and elsewhere along the Pacific coastline, the tidal pattern is called semidiurnal mixed because successive high tides or low tides are of significant different heights throughout the daily cycle. In other words, there may be two high tides per day per day, but they are usually at different heights. Likewise for low tide. There may be two low tides per day, but one of the low tides can be lower than the other one.
Most surfers and beachcombers check the tidal calendar on a daily basis. And if you want to plan a tide pooling field trip, you can plan it months in advance, preferably in the winter months when
La Jolla beaches
tend to have the most extreme low tides.
Blacks Beach, CA
Trails from top to down.
There are rustic trails that lead from Torrey Pines Glider Port down to Blacks Beach.
Be aware that these trails are not maintained and require top physical fitness and sturdy shoes. Remember, it might look easy to walk down the trail, but you have to climb back up at some point.
Torrey Pines Gliderport is located at 2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037.
Another option is to walk the paved lifeguard road from La Jolla Farms down to Blacks Beach, CA.
There is a gate at the top of the asphalt road, but it is locked, with no public vehicle access. The gated road can be found in a residential neighborhood, at the corner of Black Gold Road and La Jolla Farms Road, La Jolla, CA 92037.
Again, be aware that this is a long and steep road, requires good physical fitness, and sturdy shoes. And of course, it always feel like a longer walk up than down.
Entrance from the South
Last January, we visited Blacks Beach, CA on an overcast day. For San Diego, it was a cool 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Not very cold when you consider parts of the United States were getting a snow storm.
Very few people were on the beach that day. The sky had low gray, slate clouds, and there was plenty of wind. Sounds like a crummy day at the beach, right? Wrong!
It was actually a spectacular day. First, as we walked from our parked car to Scripps Beach, we saw a paraglider navigating just a few hundred feet over our heads. Wow! What a sight!
He sailed south along the beach, then turned over the ocean as he neared Scripps pier. With precision, he aimed toward the end of Scripps Pier, then turned right, toward the north, and sailed back to the high cliffs. We were squealing and screaming with delight! Imagine, watching a person, without engine power, ride the invisible force of wind, and guide his parachute over the beautiful beach, waves and pier. Simply breathtaking!
We continued our journey that day along the beach. When we reached the rocky path leading to Blacks Beach, CA, the tide was low. We say, "The tide is out." We spent some time
and found a few pools of water that were serving as fish nurseries. From a distance, you just see pockets of water trapped behind a reef. But on closer inspection, the tide pool becomes a small aquarium, full of marine life. One pool had small mackerel and sea bass darting back and forth. Some sea anemones dotted the perimeter. Brown pieces of Giant Bladder Kelp and Feather Boa Kelp were floating in the tide pool too.
We continued our walk along the rugged path, taking our time as we navigated the boulders and stones. When we got to the other side of this rocky path, where we saw hundreds of yards of sandy beach. The walking was easy on this sandy beach. And no matter how many dozens of times that I've walked this path, I'm dazzled by the beauty of Blacks Beach, CA.
The sky was dotted with paragliders soaring along the wind swept cliffs. And not a single motor or engine. Only the sound of the waves rolling and crashing and sea gulls chirping as they competed for an unlucky fish.
Parking for the southern entrance, near Scripps beach and Scripps pier, can be found on La Jolla Shores Drive, near the corner of Downwind Way, a small road that leads to Birch Aquarium.
The Scripps Institute of Oceanography is located facing the ocean, just west of La Jolla Shores Drive. The campus is open to the public. There are outdoor public showers to rinse off after your beach trip, but no public restrooms. Public restrooms can be found a couple miles south at La Jolla Shores Beach.
Entrance from the north
Torrey Pines State Park
From the northern beach entrance, at the gate to Torrey Pines State Park, a stretch of sand greets you.
Then, after walking about half an hour south, there are some reef and rocks to climb over.
Then you find yourself at Blacks Beach, CA.
The same rules regarding tides apply. Do this walk during low tide and during daylight hours. Be prepared with sturdy shoes, good physical fitness, water, hat with a brim and sunglasses.
Public parking for the northern entrance to Blacks Beach CA can be found on Pacific Coast Highway on the stretch of road that connects the cities of Del Mar and La Jolla.
I usually find free parking on Pacific Coast Highway in the parking spaces on the south bound side of the road. Read the signage carefully for parking requirements. Some parking spaces are on a diagonal and some are parallel parking. One time I got a parking ticket here because I parked on a diagonal when it required parallel parking. There are no parking spaces on the north bound side of Pacific Coast Highway on this stretch of road.
Paid parking can be found at the entrance to the Torrey Pines State Park, 12500 North Torrey Pines Road, San Diego CA 92037.