La Jolla Escape: Pantai Inn

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By the time you read this, it’s possible that I will have moved the Weekend del Sol offices to San Diego. With each visit comes another reminder of my partiality for this sunny corner of the state. Reason #572: The Pantai Inn.

Pronounced PAWN-tie, this La Jolla retreat quickly sums up the best of sunshiny San Diego. It hides colorful, low-profile buildings amidst lush gardens, smart Balinese decor and ocean vistas. It would be too cliche to say it transports you to some far-flung island, so I’ll just think it and hope the thought resonates.

An open-air reception area sets the tone upon arrival: guests are welcomed in a spa-like space filled with artwork and refreshments, completely open to the exterior gardens. The one to three bedroom guest suites transcend traditional hotel rooms. With upscale furnishings and a relaxed tropical ambience, you’ll expect to see azure waters underfoot like in those South Pacific pics that inspire coveting on Pinterest.

Outside, beautiful succulent gardens hint at under-water sea beds in the ocean beyond. Peaceful, trickling water features are tucked into every corner. And exquisite Balinese sculptures punctuate the calming environment. In the morning, fill a tray with yogurt, sliced fruit, cereals, and pastries from the breakfast room and grab a cushy seat on the sunny courtyard. Come nightfall, cozy up around the glowing fire pit with the sound of crashing waves as your backdrop.

The palm-tree-lined, oceanfront expanse of Scripps Park sits immediately across from the Pantai. Stroll the bluffs, explore beach coves, or spy the seals sunning themselves at Children’s Pool.

Pantai’s guest suites include modern kitchens and a heated patio that’s perfect for stargazing with a bottle of wine. You could easily stock up on food & drink and never leave the property. But I appreciated exploring the scenic town of La Jolla and enjoyed the following places:


This popular, sunny spot around the corner from the Pantai couldn’t be more Southern Californian. With an expansive front patio and cozy beach cottage dining room, it’s an ideal breakfast and lunch locale.


Herringbone serves good cocktails and seafood in a fun, design-forward space that made me think of a hip restaurant Anthropology might open. I loved the atmospheric lounge with an interior that opened up on to the outside, a common feature in San Diego and something I just can’t get enough of.


A good time at Prep Kitchen in Little Italy had me seek out their sister property in La Jolla. I enjoyed the short menu of tapas and craft cocktails in the bar area. But the best spot is on their open-air patio dining room that fronts the street.

La Jolla Cave Store

This is vintage roadside Americana at its best. La Jolla is famous for its sea coves but only this one is accessible by land. The entrance is hidden in a old wooden shack full of sea shells and romance. You’ll gladly offer up 4 bucks before descending 145 steps through a Goonies-style tunnel to the interior of the dramatic sea cove. It’s probably my earliest vacation memory as a kid and I still think it’s awesome.

I love how the number of steps changes.

Check out the shape of the cave opening below. It was dubbed The Sunny Jim Cave for its resemblance to the profile of a 1920s cereal mascot.


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  1. Thank you, thank you!!! Your photos are lovely. I love Southern California (actually all of California, but am partial to the south for its warmer climate), I love San Diego (including, especially LaJolla) and have visited quite a few times. It’s nice to see someone elses photos of the places I adore. I’ve stayed at the Pantaii Inn as well (a couple of years ago, before they increased their prices to double, but it was lovely; and what a location — steps from the water front and the staff could not have been nicer). I love your blog. So far all places I have been numerous times, or I intend to visit next time I’m in California.

    • Trudi,
      I’ve lived in San Francisco for nearly 20 years and *still* have not gotten use to the fog/cold. My poor closet thinks I still live in Southern California where I grew up. Thank you for such a nice comment. I’m really glad you like the site.
      – Garrick

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