View of Dillon beach looking south from headland

Dillon Beach Tide Pools

This is a popular location for locals from the surrounding area. There is a huge beach that stretches for miles that is a great place to spend the day. The tide pools are located on the northern end of the beach. This location has a very diverse geography including huge boulders, large rocky areas with smaller sandy coves between. This also makes a great tide pool habitat. Most all kinds of marine live can be found here including sea anemone, lots of barnacles, limpets, crabs, chitons and a good diversity of algae. The tide pools are however located in rocky areas so some scrambling over rocks and trails is required.

Location, Parking and Amenities

Dillon beach is located at the end of Cliff drive in the town Dillon beach. There is a fee for parking and is enforced on most days. There are restrooms and plenty of parking spaces. The tide pools are located several hundred yards to the north of the parking area so be prepared for a walk.

Tidepool Access

My favorite tide pool location is the small bay located between the first and second rocky headland. Walk north along the beach and over the first rocky area until you reach the sandy bay between the headlands. Note that visitors will need to scramble over some good sized rocks and boulders.

Points of Interest

The first thing visitors will notice is the large statue of George Dillon who settled in this location in 1858. The statue is at the entrance of beach that is very wide and miles long. The sand slopes gently into the ocean creating a wide tidal area. The tide pools are located to the north of the parking lot. Start walking to the north and pay attention to the sand as there are lots of shells and other interesting objects that wash up on the beach. There is part of a large dock that washed ashore years ago just before the rocky areas.

There are a few large boulders just before the large rocky headland that are worth exploring at low tide. Most of the rocks in the higher tidal zones are covered with mats of algae and seem to be the only things growing there. For the more adventurous visitors, take a moment and lift the algae away from the rock and explore the area just beneath. This is a great place to find lots of small limpets, snails and the occasional crabs.

Continue walking over the rocks to the small bay. This area has several large rocks at the water’s edge. They are covered by clumps of gooseneck barnacles, smaller barnacles, mussels and sometimes large colonies of aggregating anemones. The upper surfaces of the rocks have lots of limpets, some rather large acorn barnacles, solitaire anemones and some larger grabs. Also be sure to look in the calmer pools as there are lots of tide pool fish including blennies and sculpins in this area.
Pismo Beach looking south from Dinosaur Park

Pismo Beach Tide Pools

The tide pools in this area are located at the base of step high cliffs. Getting to the tide pools can be challenging. The easiest place to find a way to some tide pools is the park at Dinosaur Caves. The tide pools are small but offer visitors a chance to see common types of marine life. This location is best accessed at low tide. Visitors can expect to see lots of sea anemones, snails, limpets and urchins when conditions are right. The tide pool areas is a flat area with lots of little pools that form in the eroded rocky area at the base of the cliff. There are other locations that have tide pools but these are only accessible to the more adventurous types.

Location and Amenities

The best place to park is the parking area at Dinosaur Caves Park. Park in the lot and walk south toward the hotel. The hotel has a long steep staircase that leads down to the beach area. The parking is free and there are restrooms at the park.

Tidepool Access

Take the staircase from the hotel and viewing area down to the beach. The tide pools are located at the northern end of the small beach area. Make sure to take a look around at the sides of the cliffs as there is marine life that can be found at these locations.

Points of Interest

This location has stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the tall cliffs that border the beaches in the northern areas. This location also provides a great opportunity to see migrating whales when the season is right. The tide pools themselves are relatively small compared to other locations.

Visitors can expect to find lots of smaller animals in the pools. This area has an area of rock that protrudes from the ground and is eroded in a way that creates lots of small pools of water. These smaller pools have sea anemones, snails, limpets and the occasional sea urchin. Also look for the denser beds of red and brown algae smaller shore crabs can be found in this area.
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Montana de Oro State Park Tide Pools

Montana de Oro State Park is an amazing state park. The park has over 8000 acres of open area with miles of coast line and bays. There are a few bays that are lined with high rocks and rough areas. This makes an ideal location for tide pools. The easiest place to see these incredible tide pools is Spooners Cove. There are hundreds of yards of rocks and channels that have lots of barnacles, limpets, snails and lots of other marine live. At low tide, visitors can walk through these deep channels an see thousands of animals clinging to the sides of the rocks. There are other more secluded and harder to reach locations that have even more diversity and numbers of animals.

Location, Parking and Amenities

The easiest location to get to is Spooners cove. Follow the road from the Pecho Valley Road entrance several miles until the road reaches the bat at Spooners Cove. Visitors can park in one of the two lots available. Another great location is Hazard reef but visitors need to hike in.

Tidepool Access

The easiest to reach tide pools are on the south side of the bay. Walk south along the beach until the rocky areas and tide pools start. There are some good tide pool locations on the north side but requires some hiking.

Points of Interest

The tide pool area has lots of deep and long channels. The tops of the channels are a bit rough and can be tricky to walk on. The sides of the channels are spectacular in that there are numerous animals of all kinds that attach to the rocks. Some of these locations have lots of limpets packed tightly together along with clumps of gooseneck barnacles. There are also numerous small pools that form on top of the channels that support sea anemones, crabs, snails and lots of other smaller animals.

Most of the tide pool life is found on the sides of the large channels and on the wave exposed areas. Take notice of the sandy bottoms of the channels as there are lots of larger crabs that can be found in these areas. At the right time of year, visitors will see lots of crab shells as the crabs shed their current shells and grow new ones.

There are several other great locations in the park. The first location worth exploring is the Hazard reef area. Take the trail from the parking area with the same name and hike over to the beach area. These tide pools are a vast area of flat rock with numerous pools of water. The pools have lots of animals including sea anemones, barnacles and mussels in the wave exposed areas. Look for larger crabs in the sandy areas. This location is always on my list to visit when I am in the area.
The Morro Bay tide pools receive lots of visitors

Morro Bay Tide Pools

The tide pools at Morro Bay are located at the base of a small bluff at the North Point Nature Area. The tide pool area is made up of several rock formations that extent out into the water. This area is completely covered at high tide so plan to visit these tide pools at very low tides. There are gooseneck barnacles, some rather large acorn barnacles, a few sand castle worm colonies, a few aggregating anemones colonies and limpets. There upper part of the tide pool area is covered by green algae. The best place to see these animals is on the wave exposed areas closest to the ocean.

Location, Parking and Amenities

The tide pool area is located at the end of Toro Ln. There is a small parking area but is usually full so be prepared to park further down the road and walk in during the weekends. There are no amenities at this location.

Tidepool Access

Park in the small parking area and walk over the bluff down to the beach. There are several well marked dirt pathways to follow down to the beach and tide pool area.

Points of Interest

The tide pools in this area are composed of several large flat rocky areas that extend out to the ocean. They are only a few feet high from the sand to the top of the rocky areas. The upper part of the tide pool is covered by mats of green algae. The middle area is also covered by smaller brown and micro algae on the top part of the rocks. There are several small pools that have lots of sea creatures worth exploring. The algae on these rocks make them very slippery and I have seen more than one person take a dive.

One of the more interesting features at these tide pools are the occasional huge acorn barnacles growing in the cracks. Some are an inch wide and an inch or so tall. Also be sure to look a the sides of the rocks closer to the ocean as they are covered by gooseneck barnacles and a few mussels. There are also a few protected pockets that have colonies of sand castle worms.

The beach areas just on either side of the tide pool area are a great place to sea various other sea animals and their shells. Take a moment and look at the all the shells that litter the sand around this area.
Looking south from the top of the bluff

Cayucos Tide Pools

This little known town in central California has some great tide pool locations to explore. They may be harder to find but the scenery and location is definitely worth the visit. These tide pools are located at the base of a long stretch of bluffs and headlands just to the north of the town of Cayucos. There are large exposed rocks with high wave action along with lots of calmer water. There are plenty of barnacles, mussels and limpets in the more wave exposed areas. The calmer waters have lots of algae, sea anemones, hermit crabs and snails. Another great location to explore is Harmony State Park located just to the north of this location.

Location, Parking and Amenities

The tide pools are located along Pacific Coast Highway ( Highway 1 ) halfway between the town of Cayucos and Harmony State Park. There are five turnouts on the west side of the road. Park in one of these turnouts and follow the path to the beach areas. There is a large network of trails that lead form the parking areas to the beach. There are no facilities at this location.

Tidepool Access

The tide pools are located near the headlands or points in the terrain. These locations have the most diversity and numbers of animals. Follow a trail from the parking lot to the beach. Once on the bluff top overlooking the beach, find a trail that leads down to the beach or tide pool area.

Points of Interest

This location is several miles long with lots of things to see. There are three beaches that may see a handful of visitors each day so this area is not very crowded. Choose a parking area and start walking down the beach. My favorite places to explore are the locations located at the points. These locations are exposed to more wave actions that provide more food for the animals. Animals in these locations have lots of mussels, barnacles and tube snails.

There are also many tide pool areas that are more protected from stronger wave action by reefs located just offshore. Areas behind these reefs will support animals and algae that prefer less wave actions. Visitors will find lots of small pools with sea anemones, lots of snails, hermit crabs and limpets. Smaller crabs can be found in all of the locations.

Exploring the beaches in this location can be fascinating and rewarding. There are lots of interesting things to find washed up on the beach. Look for the various types of sea shells, discarded crab shells, clams and other animals found in deeper water. One of the best places to visit is Estero Bay. It has a good headland along with a fabulous beach to explore.
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Cambria Moonstone Beach Tide Pools

There are several great locations to see tide pools in this area. The best tide pool locations are at the northern end of Moonstone Beach Drive. There two great locations with good access. There are lots of animals the prefer exposed wave areas including mussels, gooseneck barnacles, limpets and lots of smaller barnacles and periwinkle snails higher up in the zone. This area has stunning scenery of the coast and ocean. This area is also great for beach combing and walking along the beach.

Location and Parking

The best location is at the far north end of the road at the San Simeon State Park Leffingwell Landing Area. There is a turnout and paved parking area with steps leading to the tide pool area. Restrooms are available at this location. Another location is just south of this turnout and parking is available along the street. There are a few dirt paths that lead to the tide pool area.

Tide pool Access

Park in the parking area in the north lot and follow the steps to the rocky area. The steps lead directly to a good place to start exploring. In the second location to the south, follow the dirt path and choose one of the easier pathways to the beach and onto the tide pool area. Points of Interest

Points of Interest

This tide pool location is great in that it has a wide variety of tide pool types that support lots of different types of animals. At leffingwell Landing, there are larger rocks that face the ocean and large surge channels throughout this area. This type of area supports lots of mussels and barnacles. The less exposed areas have a few sea anemones, limpets and snails. Look at the sides of the rocks in the surge channels and there is a good chance to see five or six different kinds of limpets.

The higher portions in this area are flatter and have less wave action. There are several small pools that support small anemones, crabs and lots of periwinkle snails. The area between these two locations supports a variety of live including a few colonies of aggregating anemones, larger barnacles and algae. There are also lots of predatory snails in the small cracks. These snails can be identified by the spiral shaped shell that is generally left to right rather than up and won as in the herbivorous snails.

The beaches in this area are great for beach combing. There are not too many people so there is lots of opportunity to see interesting things washed up on the beach. Many of the points are also popular surfing locations.
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Dike Rock Tide Pools

The tide pools at Dike Rock are not as large as other locations but provide variable terrain features that allow for a variety of marine life to life on. The main area is a single large rock and a long rocky sea wall covered by marine life. The surrounding area is covered by large boulders that make ideal habitat for animals that prefer calmer water. The area just to the south has the occasional rock but also has habitat for animals that like to live in sandier areas.

Location and Ameneties

The closest public parking is just south of the UC San Diego parking lot on El Paseo Grande street. Park on this street or the next closest street and start walking north along the beach. There are no public restrooms at this location.

Tidepool Access

The tide pools are located several hundred yards to the north of the pier. Either walk through the campus of UC San Diego or head to the beach and walk north.

Points of Interest

This tide pool area has three main areas and habitats. The first area is the large rock about 10 feet high. There is also a long rock wall that runs nearly parallel to the beach. Both of these locations provide great vertical surfaces to attach to ad appropriately covered by a variety of marine life. There are small pools on top of the large rock that have huge sea anemones and crabs living in them. The rocks are covered by mussels, barnacles and lots of snails and limpets. The cracks and small channels have sea stars or least they did until they were all killed by the sea start wasting syndrome. They will eventually recover as this is not the first time this has happened.

The second distinct area of this tide pool are the smaller rocks found near the sandy areas. Some of these rocks are covered by mats of aggregating sea anemones and solitary sea anemones. This can be a great place to see both species side by side. The higher rocks are covered with mussels and barnacles.

This tide pool area also has a large boulder field that makes great habitat for animals that prefer calmer water. Expect to find clams, snails, lots of limpets and the occasional barnacle and tube work. Sea hares are also common in this area if the conditions are just right.
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Tourmaline Surf Park Tide Pools

The tide pools at Tourmaline Surf Park in San Diego are located to the north of the surfing area. The tide pools are a large boulder field with an occasional larger rocky area. There are plenty of snails, red thatched barnacles, aggregating and solitary anemones, limpets of all kinds and other interesting tide pool animals. This area also has a good number of tube snails near the low water line. Do not expect to see too many urchins, mussels and gooseneck barnacles as these species prefer faster water flows. The rocks are covered by very slippery algae and other macro brown algae.

Location, Parking and Amenities

The tide pools are located at the north end of the beach area. Park in the large parking area and start walking north along the beach. There are portable restroom available.
The tide pools at Tourmaline surf park are located at the north end of the tourmaline surfing beach in san diego. Park in the parking area near the intersection of Tourmaline and La Jolla Blvd and start walking north. The tide pool area is a vast boulder field with a few larger rock outcroppings. Take notice as you get near the boulder field at start looking for snails in the sand besides the rocks. I have seen several of the large wavy top turban snails at this location.

Keep walking to the north and you can expect to see lots for acorn and red thatched barnacles on the exposed rock surfaces. There are not many gooseneck barnacles as they prefer more exposed areas. The small pools are filled with tegula snails and lots of hermit crabs that use the snails shells for homes. Keep an eye out for tube snails on the sides of the rocks and near the low water line. The rocks in this area are covered by micro algae and make the rocks really slippery. Sea anemones can be found closer to the ocean and several large colonies of aggregating sea anemones can be found.

There are several kinds of brown and red algae including the rockweeds, the non-native sargasum and plenty of the red coralline encrusting algae for the algae enthusiasts. The larger exposed rocks will also have lots of limpets, a few chitons and the smaller acorn barnacles
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Sonoma Coast State Park Tide Pools

This area extends many miles from Bodega Bay northward to just north of the Russian River. There are miles of beaches and many great tide pool areas. The tide pools are a mix of exposed rocky areas and boulder fields. The area has lots of mussels, aggregating anemones, limpets of all kinds and shapes along with a wide variety of algae. There are also lots of Sculpins darting about the shallower tide pools. The beaches are great for beach combing as lots of interesting items tend to wash ashore here.
The tide pools areas are located at the base of steep cliffs. There are several dozen turnouts on the top of the cliff with pathways leading down to the beach and tide pool areas. There are more easily accessible tide pools just north of where the Russian River empties into the ocean.

Tidepool Access

The tide pools are located at the base of steep cliffs. Follow the pathways that lead down to the beach and walk along the beach to the tide pools. Many are located in secluded coves that are not very crowed. The better locations will be the more exposed areas with direct wave action. Look for areas with large boulders that area easy to get to as these will be the better locations.

Points of Interest

The Sonoma Coast State Park is a rather large park with many tide pool locations. The drive along this portion of highway 1 is one of the most scenic in all of California. The highway follows the coastline and has numerous parking areas and turn outs. Choose one of the turnouts and explore the opportunities to get down to the beach. The coast also features many huge rock monoliths just off the coast that provides stunning scenery.

Many of the rocks in the more protected areas are covered by large colonies of aggregating anemones. They are usually found on the back sides of rocks in more protected areas. Also look for the many limpets in the mid tidal zones as they can get pretty big. The solitaire sea anemones are also abundant in the cracks and shallow pools. Keep an eye out for the many sculpins that seem to be in every pool and areas with shallow water. Mussels are found in the exposed areas along with some barnacles.

Another great feature in this park is beach combing. While walking along the beach, make sure to take a look at the upper tide line as there are many interesting things that tend to wash up on the beach. The water is noticeably colder in this region compared to parts further south. This area is also exposed to very high wave action and it is common to find sections of rock almost devoid of marine life due to the strong waves.