Plus Size Travel: Snorkeling in La Jolla Cove


We arrived at La Jolla Cove 15 minutes early. Although I was completely stoked about snorkeling, there was one thing that had me nervous.

The website said Providing a mask, snorkel, fins, and a 7-millimeter wetsuit, the water-recreation emporium outfits squadrons of snorkelers for guided sightseeing at La Jolla Cove Underwater Park.

A 7 millimeter wetsuit? *sigh* I wasn’t sure that they would have a suit that fit me, but I really wanted to go. I called the company and expressed my concerns. They said they had suits up to a XXL but that meant nothing to me, I had a feeling that XXL would be for a well built man not a Plus Size Princess. But the company also assured me that if I didn’t fit into the suit, I could go on another excursion instead like stand up paddleboarding or kayaking (which had a 350 pound weight limit, but I’m under that *whew*).

So my sister, Denise, and I get to La Jolla and meet up with our instructor who is the typical pot head surfer. I walk up to him and say “hey, we’re here early so I can see if I can fit into the wetsuit”.

“Cool,” he says with a grin. Then he just stares at us in that spacey way that only a pothead can.

“Soooo, can you give us a suit?” I say, waving my hand in his face.

“Oh, right… yeah– totally!” he says, then he reaches into his box of equipment and pulls out a suit. I go into the bathroom and attempt to pull the suit on which is like trying to pull a tiny water balloon over my entire body.


I look into the suit and see that its a size XL not and XXL. By this time I have the suit up over my knees, so I waddle out and ask the instructor if he has an XXL like the guy on the phone promised he would. He blinks at me a few times and then says “yeah… I do”. I try to step out of the suit but its like glue around my legs.

Denise and I walk/waddle, respectively, to a bench nearby. We decide that I will sit and hold onto the sides of the bench while she pulls the suit off of my legs.

“Ready? One… Two… Three… AHHHHHHH!”

The suit budges like an inch down my calves and people walking by are trying not to look, but looking. Usually I’d be mortified by this situation, but being with my sister tends to put me at ease and situations like this become hilarious. Five minutes later we have the suit off and are both panting and laughing.

“a size XXL isn’t going to be much better than the XL,” I say breathlessly, “we might have to do the kayaking.”

We go back to tell the instructor that the suit isn’t fitting me. Of course at that moment there is another snorkeler who is like 5’1 and 90 pounds whining that her suit is too big! (I did my best not to give her the major **sideeye**). As I explain my situation to our pothead instructor, he calmly says “why don’t you just snorkel without the suit?”

“That’s an option?!” I ask incredulously… why he didn’t say that in the beginning, I have no idea!

Anyway, we had an amazing time in the water looking at the beautiful fish and then the seals who live in the cove came and swam with us too. They came within arms distance of us and were showing off… it was so cute! I didn’t take my camera into the ocean, but here’s a photo of the seals on the rocks where they hang out. Overall it was a beautiful day with nature and I’m glad I did it. First parasailing in Miami last year, now snorkeling! Another extreme adventure concquered by a Plus Size Princess!

TRAVEL TIP: We snorkeled for $35 using a groupon! A few weeks before I traveled to San Diego, I updated my groupon account so that it would send me deals for San Diego. I figured it would help save money on the trip and maybe we’d get a good deal on a restaurant or something. If you’re not a Groupon member, sign up here, its free, it has saved me sooo much money and it can help you do fun things on vacation.

Have any of you gone snorkeling or scuba diving? If so, have you managed to get into a wetsuit?

  • Kas

    I have been snorkling in HI (hubbs was military) and I don’t believe we ever saw anyone in a wet suit. BUT~~ I always forget that West Coast water is COLD!!!
    Other than water temp- I don’t see why you’d need it… I’m glad you had fun- snorkling is AWESOME!!

  • Emmie

    OMG, LaJolla is one of my favorite.places.ever. I went to fat camp there during high school (4 years!) and seriously think it’s one of the best places on earth.
    I sympathize with you on the wetsuit- no way in hell I’d even attempt it. I’m so glad you still got to do what you wanted though!

  • Cindy A.

    Yay for snorkeling! My sister (5’6″, 140 lbs) has a wetsuit that she let me borrow. Of course I tried it on first and she helped me squeeze into it. Once the zipper was all the way up and I turned to face her she said, “Don’t worry, I always feel like a swimming sausage when i wear it too!” and we busted out laughing!

  • Laura

    I snorkeled in Puerto Rico and also snorkeled in Grand Cayman with sting rays on my honeymoon. Luckily no wet suit was needed because of the warmer weather. Kudos to you for even trying on that thing because I would NOT have!

  • Elle

    That’s how I felt when I went zip lining in Belize. I wasn’t self conscious at all, I just wanted to make sure I didn’t plummet 15 stories through the rain forest. So I made SURE they had the harnesses and clips to support me. I was fine though, I survived.

  • Deidre

    I just conquered my fear of snorkelling on Lady Elliot Island in Australia. AMAZING. I wore a wetsuit to help me float (I am a total sinker) and also to protect me against the coral (I am clumsy).

  • Jess

    Have you tried Living Social? They have AWESOME deals too, so does (make sure you google for the 80% discount code). BTW Groupon has a half off special for Skinny Tees right now (wishing I had money!)

  • Charlotte

    I haven’t been snorkeling in ages, but I’ve always loved it. There’s something about that proximity to nature and the beautiful sea creatures that’s just incredibly serene. So glad you were able to experience this and that you had a wonderful time doing it!

    PS: That’s a great tip about signing up for Groupons in cities before you travel to them–I’ve never thought to do that!

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  • Payton_vege

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  • AlwaysForMe

    I haven’t been snorkeling since I went to the Bahamas in college where the water was very warm. The water in LaJolla is probably much cooler which is why they would recommend a wetsuit. Had to wear a wet suit for white water rafting and I remember it being quite an experience :) Would love to try both again but the wetsuit thing definately would make me think twice.

  • Sheila Stark

    I love snorkeling, but only have done it extensively in various places in Mexico, on both western coasts and warmer Caribbean. I am a 1x-2x person but wet suits run really, really small and tight. I am very fair skinned and blonde, so I always wear lycra shorts and rash guard with sleeves. I did buy a dive skin full length that I have worn in cooler waters. I love it because it’s stretchy and protects on reefs against scrapes. I bought that through Crazy Scuba and it wasn’t pricey. There is a site that will custom make wet suits for plus sizes, but they are expensive. If you want a light weight knee length unitard for swimming, Junonia carries a couple for around 125. Super well-made.