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When and Where To See Seals in San Diego

a group of people on a beach near a body of water

Do you plan to visit San Diego or live in the area and want a new activity? It’s always fun to see wildlife in its natural environment, and in San Diego, you can see seals and sea lions as they bask in the sun and play in the water. Sea lions and seals are visible all year and entertaining for kids and adults alike. 

What Time of the Year Are Seals in San Diego?

Fortunately, San Diego has sea life that you can watch all year. Seals and sea lions are some of those creatures you can see year-round. However, you have the best opportunities to view seals on San Diego beaches during their birthing season. This occurs every year from the middle of December to the middle of May. However, you can also see them between the end of April and the beginning of June.

Understand that you may experience restricted or no access to San Diego beaches during seals’ birthing seasons. However, you can see them from a distance. They collect on the shoreline, and you may even see one or more seals give birth. You can watch seal pups, and if you are there from the middle of May to the middle of July, you can add seeing sea lion pups to your adventures.

Sea lions are abundant in San Diego and can be seen year-round on the shoreline, docks, and channel markers. They bark, eat fish, arch their back, and sleep all day every day. 

Why Does San Diego Have So Many Seals?

Seals’ habitat is along the coast. Although many live in cold waters, such as those in the Arctic and Antarctic, others live on the West Coast of North America, particularly in southern California.

Seals and sea lions live on rocky beaches and coves. They appreciate docks, jetties, and buoys. Male seals migrate to the California coast for both winter feeding and breeding. However, females and their pups remain in the area until weaning occurs.

a flock of birds sitting on top of a sandy beach

Where Can You See Seals?

You can see seals all along the coast of the San Diego area. Point Loma has both harbor seals and sea lions. They always like relaxing on the channel markers in the bay and relaxing on the Submarine Base barge. Coronado Beach has rocky outcroppings that also provide the ideal habitat for these animals.

A few miles away from San Diego’s airport, you can find Shelter Island, where you can sometimes observe seals on the rocks during low tide. You can also check out Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve and the North County Coastal Trail. Both these locations have stunning views, so you can enjoy the scenery as you enjoy the seals.

Seals in La Jolla

La Jolla is the best place to see both seals and sea lions by land, as they are visible all year in this area. The La Jolla Ecological Reserve and Marine Park has a cove (La Jolla Cove) where seal lions congregate, the most consistent place to see them. These animals are abundant in this area all year. Please be aware that parking is limited, so go early, especially in summer. There is a beach where you can also go snorkeling in these waters, but always be aware and keep your distance from the sea lions. To see a La Jolla seal, visit Children’s Pool Beach. This beach is ideal for seal-watching but may not be as readily available during summer. This beach is where the seals will give birth and nurse their young. You can watch them from a safe distance from the sea wall. 

Remember that seals and sea lions are wild animals. You should not approach them. Instead, keep your distance and respect their space so they do not feel threatened.

a herd of cattle walking across a beach next to a body of water

Seal Sightings Aboard

One of the best and safest ways to see seals and sea lions is aboard a boat charter trip. The charter captains know the ideal locations to view seals throughout the year. They also keep you at a safe distance from the mammals.

The San Diego seals are some of the area’s most exciting and delightful attractions. If you haven’t taken the time to see them, find a beach or charter a boat to check them out.