The tidepools are located at the very southern end of the park. The tidepools are situated in a cove surrounded by short cliffs making for a very picturesque setting. The location features a large flat area covered with shallow water with low rocks positioned throughout the area. The rocks are covered by a variety of seaweed and various animals. The shallow water area maintains a healthy sea grass and brown and red algae population. This algae population provides a great environment for a variety of juvenile fish and common tidepool animals. This location can become crowded during peak tourist seasons and parking can be a challenge.
Location and ParkingThe tidepool location is inside the Cabrillo National Monument Park. Follow the signs to the park and continue past the ranger station. Note there is a $5.00 fee to enter the park. Take the first right after the ranger station and continue down the descending road to the tidepool parking area. The parking area is marked by signs. There are restrooms available but no other amenities. Volunteer docents are present and very willing to answer questions during weekends and holiday weekends.
Tidepool AccessThe tidepools can be accessed by a short walk on a dirt trail from the parking area. Follow the trail along the cliff top until the pathway leading to the tidepools is reached. Note the trail continues along the cliff rim and provides breath taking views of the shore and ocean. Continue down the path leading to the tidepools. Note the trail can be slippery during wet conditions so be especially careful during wet conditions.
Points of InterestThere are very interesting rock formations in the tidepool area. The rocks in the lower tidal area have dozens of limpets clinging to the rocks. The owl limpets are particularly large and abundant. Smaller limpets, snails and small barnacles can be found high up in the splash zone. The shallow water area contains large areas of sea grass and other brown and red algae.
There is not a lot of wave action during low tide in this area. This area provides great protection for juvenile fish and sea anemones. Some of the rocks farther out toward the ocean have mussels and barnacles. Do not expect to see too many sea stars and urchins.
The rocks to the south also harbor large colonies of aggregating anemones. This area is a big more rugged and difficult to get to but has fewer crowds. The northern part of the tidepool area is mostly algae covered boulders with a few barnacles and snails and lots of hermit crabs. This area is particularly slippery due to the algae covered rocks.