Places to Shoot

Torrey Pines Glider Port and Salk Institute

See hang gliding and parasailing along the cliffs of Torrey Pines  and wander among world class architecture at the Salk Institute.

Location Summary

Fantastic views from the rugged cliff tops of Torrey Pines with colorful gliders. The world famous Salk Institute is close by.

Advantages: Cliffs catch sunset to form magnificent colors and plenty of action to photograph.

Disadvantages: Flying depends on weather. Restricted access many areas.



Follow Torrey Pines Scenic Drive to the end and enter through the gate to the glider port. Bear left to parking area. The sandy ground is rough and rutted, so take care when driving. From the parking area you can walk over to the glider port where you will find seating and a cafe. Be careful to observe signs about pilot only areas.

parasailingGlider port

The glider port is used by hang gliding and parasailing enthusiasts the whole year round. Their canopies can be very colorful and with patience and a longish lens you can get some interesting shots of pilots setting up, launching, and flying from the cliff tops.

para_sml-200Southern cliff area

Just to the south of the glider port is an open sandstone cliff top that affords a good view north along the Torrey Pines State Reserve. Watch out for small ravines that make this area difficult to traverse, especially with a camera and tripod. The best route to the cliff edge is to follow the line of fence posts towards the ocean on the southern side. This area is a good place to photograph gliders from as they soar close to the cliffs. From early afternoon the sun will be at your back and just before sunset the cliffs can light up to a gorgeous glow.

blacks-beachBlacks Beach

Blacks Beach lies below the cliffs and can be accessed by a very steep trail south of the parking area. It is very popular with surfers and also nude sunbathers. Looking to the south you can see Scripps Institution of Oceanography pier and La Jolla Cove in the distance.

Salk Institute

While you are in the area, you should definitely check out the Salk Institute on Torrey Pines Scenic Drive. This world class building was designed in the early 1960s by architect Louis Kahn. It doesn’t look much from the outside, just a line of square concrete office buildings, but from the inside courtyard it is a poem set in symmetry. The central water feature divides the courtyard leading your eye to a view of the Pacific Ocean and open sky framed by the sharp angles of the laboratory buildings. Access to the courtyard and surrounding areas is unrestricted during weekday business hours.