Children's Pool

Top choice beach in La Jolla

Image by Jade Bremner Lonely Planet

Built in the 1930s, La Jolla’s Children’s Pool was created as a family beach space, but since then it's been descended on by herds of seals and sea lions. Despite the pinnipeds' particularly pungent odor, tourists come in droves to see them larking around, swimming, fighting and mating. Visitors can get extremely close via a concrete platform surrounding the cove, and the seals don't seem to mind – but there's strictly no touching, feeding or selfies to be taken with the seals.

The future of the seals remains in debate, as divers and swimmers claim their presence increases bacteria levels in the water, yet animal-rights groups want to protect the cove and make it an official seal rookery. At the time of writing, courts ruled that the beach was to remain closed to swimmers, to protect the mums, pups and baby seals during pupping season (December 15 to May 15) when they are most vulnerable. But the future of the Children's Pool remains to be seen.