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"The Clam" Points of Interest

The Cove - Located on the ocean, La Jolla Cove is less than a half-acre parcel of beach-park protected from the waves by protruding rock formations.

Takeoff Rock - A conglomeration of boulders stretching from inside the Cove and arcing out around its mouth provide wonderful tidepooling opportunities at low tide. The outermost boulder is a barely submerged, flat-top rock called Takeoff Rock. You can often see people poised atop it as though they are magically standing on water.

Alligator Head - This tip of land marks the northwest boundary of the Reserve. To reach Alligator Head, swim seaward from inside the Cove and round the bend to the left. Facing west from a distance, the slabs of rock form a profile likeness of an alligator in repose staring out to sea.

Emerald Cove - Swimming seaward out from the cove, bearing right (you will be heading east) to reach this rocky cove. Swim almost up to its shore and look toward the knoll on the left. There you will see a large opening called the Swim-Through.

Swim-Through - At first glance this structure looks like a cave, but it is actually swim-through. Enter only when water is calm to avoid turbulent conditions within. Emerge carefully out the other side, which is directly under Goldfish Point.

Goldfish Point - This small knoll was named for the numbers of garibaldi or "ocean goldfish" observed in the waters below. The outer end of this knoll is frequented by jumping and diving enthusiasts who make the 30-foot leap into shallow waters directly outside the Swim-Through. (Goldfish Point can also be reached by land. Just hike down from the Shell Shop on Coast Boulevard.) Continue your swim around the knoll to the right to reach the caves.

The Caves - Seven tidal caverns, believed to have been created by wave action and mineral reaction over time, convene at the base of rugged 300-foot cliffs. Sunny Jim, the first cave you reach, was named for a popular 1890s comic strip character who had a Kewpie-style topknot of hair. Looking out from inside the cave you can see a silhouette resembling Sunny Jim. Sunny Jim is also the cave to which steps descend from within the Shell Shop above. Each cave has its own personality, so explore them all when the water is calm. Just beyond the seventh cave you will come to the Devil's Slide.

Devil's Slide - Beginning at the small crescent-shaped, rocky beach just past the easternmost cave, Devil's Slide bends northward following the stretch of coastline. The name describes the large expanse of crumbling cliffs hovering overhead. Continue hugging the coast to remain in shallow, reefy water that winds its way to La Jolla Shores, where it ultimately gives way to sandy beach.

copyright 1994 Judith Lea Garfirld San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve: A Field Guide, page 10