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A Secret Sea Cave in San Diego


Cabrillo National Monument has so much to explore in such a small area. You can get amazing views of the city, explore the lighthouse, dive into the history of the area, go tide pooling, and we recently discovered the secret sea cave there!

Secret Sea Cave San Diego.Pin

That’s what everyone calls it on instagram, but if you want to be technical, it’s actually a sinkhole. That doesn’t sound as cool, does it? It that still makes for some amazing photos!

Before we get into how we got there, we do want to warn you and say that if you visit this cave, it’s at your own risk. There are times that it is closed off due to wildlife or safety reasons, and we aren’t recommending that you break the rules.

Secret Sea Cave San Diego Directions.Pin


Once you arrive at Cabrillo National Monument, follow the right fork that takes you down to the tide pools. Pass the first parking lot and pull into the second one that you see. If you look along the coast to your right, you’ll see the top opening of the sinkhole. There will be a trailhead to the left of you (if you’re facing the ocean) that backtracks the way you just drove in. Follow this until you see a set of stairs that takes you further down the cliffs.

Once you’re down the cliffs, you’re going to follow it back towards the parking lot. You will eventually find yourself in a large cove and a small opening into the cave.

More: 25 Free Things to Do in San Diego

Looking for the Secret Sea Cave in San Diego.PinFinding the Secret Sea Cave San Diego Local Adventure.Pin

This is where it gets really gross for me. I’m not sure how often the conditions are like this, but when we were there, the entire cove was covered in washed up and decaying seaweed. We couldn’t even see the sand or rocks below, and it really stank. If you’ve ever seen washed up seaweed on the beach, then you’ll know it’s usually covered in bugs. Now multiply this by 1000, and you have my biggest nightmare.

Jacob went first and I eventually mustered up the courage to get across, and as we went across, the entire pile of seaweed and bugs rumbled as if it was one giant organism. I’m still grossed out thinking about it.

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Secret Sea Cave San Diego.Pin
Secret Sea Cave San Diego.Pin

There was an opening to the cave at the far end of the cove. After getting across, we crawled in and followed a narrow path to the opening. It was really cool to see the water coming in through a few openings while the sunlight came pouring in from above!

Secret Sea Cave San Diego.PinSecret Sea Cave San Diego.Pin
Secret Sea Cave San Diego // Cabrillo National Monument.Pin
Secret Sea Cave San Diego.Pin
Secret Sea Cave San Diego at Cabrillo National Monument.Pin
San Diego Sea Caves at Cabrillo National Monument.Pin
Secret Sea Cave San Diego.Pin

The view from the opening of the cave.

Secret Sea Cave San Diego.Pin
Cabrillo National Park - Looking for Secret Sea Caves in San Diego.Pin

Can you see the top opening of the cave in the photo on the left?

Cabrillo National Monument Caves in San Diego.PinCabrillo National Monument Caves in San Diego.PinGetting to the Secret Sea Cave San Diego.Pin

We spent about 30 minutes at the cave taking photos and enjoying the secret spot we found, then started making our way back out before the tide came in. We even had enough time to go tidepooling before we left (post coming soon!)

More: How to Go Tide Pooling at Cabrillo National Monument


  • Tide times change daily. You can use this calendar to get a rough idea of what it should be but call in the day of to double check the times.
  • Look for a 0.7 low tide or lower (negative tides are the best). When we went, it was a king tide (the highest and lowest tide) of -1.2. The tides are typically the lowest from October to April.
  • Once the water level hits to lowest tide it will start coming back in so you want to plan accordingly. Start hiking an hour before low tide to give yourself plenty of time.
  • If you’re hoping to take photos, bring a wide angle lens and tripod. We shot everything with a 16-35 mm and a GorillaPod Focus.
  • It helps to have a drysac with you just in case you slip or get splashed on. We really love using this one for water activities.
  • Even at low tide you’ll be getting wet. It helps to have water shoes. These are mine, and these are Jacob’s.
  • Be careful to always watch your footing. A lot of the rocks are slippery even if they don’t look it. Jacob took a bit of a tumble.

More: 101 Things to Do in San Diego California

Have you found a hidden cave before? What’s the last “secret” spot you discovered that you were excited about?

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Suladys

    Has anyone figured out if it’s still closed? Planning a long trip down and last trip the entire park was closed without notice. Don’t want to make that mistake again!

    1. jacob

      We haven’t been down there in a while – best bet is to give the park a call.

  2. Rielyn

    I sub to you peeps >-<

  3. Rielyn

    I loved the vids plz do more —————->

  4. Rielyn

    i loved it and it helped me do reaserch in class thank you so much >_<

    1. Esther JuLee

      So glad it helped you, Rielyn. Thanks for following our adventures :)

  5. Selina Luong

    Hi, do you know if the sea cave is still currently closed? I would love to come here when I visit San Diego!

    1. Matt

      I would also love to see it!

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