Amateur snorkeler

Swam into a La Jolla cave today when surf was strong. Very frightening. 6' waves roaring through very narrow space endlessly.


My flippers got wedged under rocks twice as I tried to escape the swells that were higher than 6' as they tunneled through. Smashed me into jagged rocks and I cut my hands. Exhausting swim back out after I finally got the nerve to attempt an escape when there seemed to be a lull.

I wouldn't do it again, but I didn't know what I was doing so take home message is to be smarter about it when you have little experience! I am usually smarter about these sorts of things.

Wow! What a story! You're right, it's not a good idea to try to explore the caves by snorkeling on your own. You should wear a wet-suit and be a very strong swimmer even when going with a group.

I recommend checking out the 3Rs program that teaches you how to safely snorkel and dive in these areas.

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Dec 23, 2014
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Near death experience at Shopping Cart Cave
by: Anonymous

As the reviewer above noted, I too almost drowned amateur snorkeling into one of these caves. I was only in the trunks without a wet suit or fins, but had a snorkel and goggles. There were three of us at 7:30 AM on a Sunday this past August, dropped in around the corner and swam about a fifty yards and then into the mouth of the cave. There's nowhere to touch bottom. Even though the ocean appeared calm as day, as soon as we entered the mouth a swell rose up and churned us around inside the cave, rollers lasting about three minutes long, with the water level in the cave rising and falling about between 6 and 12 feet at it's center. I was able to myself in between a crevice in a rock on the right about halfway in the cave and hold on for dear life, battling exhaustion and undertow and holding my breath each time the water level went above my head. My friend was a much better swimmer and able to time the wave to catch one of them and body surf to the far end by the seals on a reef in the cave. My brother managed to avoid the swell at the entrance and scale the rock at the mouth. No one could aid one another...at last breath I just let go and backstroked blindly towards that rock at the mouth and looked up to grab my brother's outstretched ankle before being swept out to sea. Never swim into these caves without a wet suit, fins, and better yet some sort of flotation device. The swells come crashing without a moments notice and I shouldn't be alive today for underestimating them. Learn from me and over-prepare. The ocean there is fierce and the rip current deadly.

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