Sunny Jim’s Cave is one of the many unique things you can do on a trip to the coastal town of La Jolla. This fun attraction is a store that has a 143 step man-made tunnel built into it that heads down to a large sea cave below. Since the early 1900s, it has been giving visitors access to this excellent cave year-round. It is the only cave in La Jolla you can get to without traveling over water on a kayak. It has become a must visit spot in La Jolla, and in an area surrounded by expensive restaurants and upscale boutiques, it is a welcome bit of unusual. Here is all the information.
- Open 10 AM-5 PM
- $5 for adults, $3 for kids
- I visited in 2015, 2017 and 2020
A great thing about this store and cave are the historic photos and information all over the walls. From what I can tell, the history of the cave is as follows. The cave tunnel was dug into the rock in 1903 when Gustauf Schultz, a german-born painter, hired two Chinese laborers to carve the tunnel. The cave was built as a way to fund his retirement and let tourists have access to one of the seven sea caves in La Jolla.
If you are lucky enough to find parking on Coast Blvd, then you can grab a free spot. If not, then you can usually find a spot in the paid lot right across the street from the cave.
Once you enter the store, you will see lots of beach-related knick knacks that you can purchase, or you can simply pay your $5 and head into the cave.
Be warned that the cave stairs are uneven and old. Towards the bottom, they can even be a little wet as well. Also, there are over 140 steps that head straight down, so make sure to take your time, but it should be accessible for most people.
I am a 6 foot 3 guy, and the ceiling is low, there were a few times where I had to keep my head down while walking along the steps to not get hit. That said, it was never claustrophobic or anything for me.
When you head around the last bend, you will finally see the light and the sea cave. Remember, this tunnel was excavated into the rock, so if it were not here, then this would be the full sea cave, and it would be pretty big.
There is a walkway out to the middle of the cave, and that is as far as you can go. Both times I have been I have seen kayakers admiring the view from the water side as well.
It is tough to take a good photo of the cave as it is either under or overexposed with the light, but here is one of the best I was able to get. Also, the water did splash up once when I was there, so take care of your gear!
After taking it all in, you can head back up the way you came, which is more of a workout since you are going uphill.
All in all, this is a fun spot to experience in La Jolla. I know people say $5 is too expensive, but how often do you get to walk in a historic man-made tunnel down to a sea cave? I think it is worth the cost. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.