natural bridges

Natural Bridges State Park Tide Pools

The tide pools for this location are located to the north of the main beach. These tide pools are a classic rock bench in that there is a long flat shelf that extends from the land into the ocean. There is a distinct cliff several feet high where the ocean meets the rock bench. This area has many small deep pools that are several feet wide and deep. There also numerous deep channels that create perfect habitat for marine life to attach to. These tide pools have wide variety of marine life and are very easy to see once you get there.
Parking is available for a fee inside the park area. There is also parking available on the streets and residential areas near the park. This area gets crowded and finding an open parking area can be difficult. There are restrooms and picnic areas inside the park.

Tidepool AccessPoints of Interest

This area has lots of small deep holes several feet deep. Each of these holes is packed with algae and other marine life. It seems like each hole has an entirely different set of animals and algae. The flatter areas have vast mussel beds with various brown and green algae. This area is an ideal tide pool location in that visitors have a large, flat and stable area to walk on and simply need to look down to sees the creatures.

This tide pool location also has numerous deeper surge channels that cut way up into the rocky bench. Visitors can stand near the edge and watch the waves as they crash through the channels. Many mussels and barnacles cover the sides of these surge channels as they are an ideal habitat for these types of animals.

Take a look into each of these channels and deep pools as each one has a different set of algae and animals. I have seen several different crab species on my trips to this location. This area also has several larger colonies of bright colored sponges worth investigating. These tide pools also provide a good way to see the various zones of a tide pool. The outer portions closest to the water have algae and animals associated with the low inter tidal zones. The section just off the edge is characteristic of animals and algae in the mid inter tidal zone and the sections closest to the houses have animals that live in the high tidal zones.
Lovers point in Monterey Peninsula. This is a typical tide pool location.

Monterey Peninsula Tide Pools

The tide pools on the Monterey Peninsula extend all around the Monterey and Pacific Grove waterfront areas. Each area is slightly different depending on location but the diversity of animals is similar. There are areas with large rocky areas with shallow pools flooded by the water during high tide along with boulder fields with more gently sloping areas. It is best to take the leisurely drive around the peninsula and stop at each of the parking areas to explore the area and find the one that interests you. My favorite is marked on the map.
There is no singly tide pool location but a vast area that extends around the entire peninsula. There are many parking areas and places on the side of the road to park. The areas to the north have a moderate bluff with foot paths for visitors. There are stair cases and pathways that lead to each tide pool area. The southern areas more toward Pacific Grove are generally more flat with a longer beach.

Tidepool Access

Access to the tide pools is from the parking area or side of the road. There are several dirt paths are stair cases in some cases that lead down to the tide pool area.

Points of Interest

Here is a guide of the locations starting from the Monterey bay aquarium district. Follow ocean ave south and the first place visitors can easily visit is the Pacific Grove Marine Garden Park. It has a nice flat beach with easy stairway access. There are low boulder fields along with racked rocky out crops. There are lots of limpets, algae and crabs typically found in this area. The exposed areas have more mussels and barnacles.

The next stop on the drive is the area near Alisomar and Ocean View Blvd. My favorite location however is about ½ mile from this intersection. Both these location have a parking area and a long rocky area that stretches out into the ocean. This location is great in that it has lots of very exposed areas where mussels and Gooseneck barnacles, anemones and urchins and has more protected areas with lots of other barnacles, limpets, snails and crabs. For the algae enthusiasts, there is also a good range of brown, green and red algae in these areas. The more exposed rocks can be quite dangerous during high wave events to check before venturing out too far. This area also have a shallow lagoon area that has lots of calmer water that is replenished during higher tides. v Continue driving south and stop off at Alisomar State Beach. This tide pool location is wider in that there are lots of low rock formations between the beach and the ocean. This reduces the wave action and also the diversity of marine life in some areas. There are lots of snails, limpets and thousands of hermit crabs in the protected pools.

Once past Alisomar State Beach, the road turns into 17 mile drive near Spanish bay. There are a few locations to stop and park but they become limited the further south. There are some outstanding locations along this area that are also worth exploring. This area provides so many smaller locations it is easy to find a place to yourself except on busy tourist weekends.
This is the large shallow area protected from direct wave action at Weston beach.

Point Lobos Tide Pools

Point Lobos State Reserve has magnificent scenery, views and examples of many natural habitats including tide pool and marine environments. The natural coastline is stunning and provides miles of coastal habitats. There are two main tide pool areas both with unique features and marine life. There are docents on the weekends that will help answer questions for visitors. Make sure to reserve several hours to explore this magnificent park.
The park is located just south of Monterrey Bay between Carmel and Big Sur. There is a well defined park entrance and a fee is required. There are two tide pool areas so decide which one you want to see and park nearby. It is possible to walk between areas if you are fit and enjoy a bit of a hike. There are restrooms and water available in all parking areas.

Tidepool Access

The Moss cove tide pools are located in the far northern part of the park. Follow the trail all the way past whalers cove to Moss cove. The tide pools are located down the slope where the trail ends. Weston Beach is the other location and provides a better and more numerous variety of tide pool life. Park near the Weston Beach Parking area and it is a short scramble down rocks and short stairs.

Points of Interest

Weston Beach has two very distinct tide pool areas. There is a large calm pool of sea water that is protected from direct wave action by a shallow reef. This area gets flushed with water only during the higher tides. This pool support many algae and animals that prefer calmer water. This area is packed with various types of green, brown and some larger red algae species. There are lots of snails and limpets. Few sea stars and urchins can be found in this area. The area is however flat but the rocks are covered by algae and very slippery.

Just along the coast from this pool is the more exposed areas. The coast line in this area is rugged in some areas but does have an occasional tidal bench that is easier to walk on. This exposed area is great for mussels, barnacles and other animals that prefer stronger wave actions. The area also has several deeper pools that harbor small juvenile fish. Looks for these smaller pools and flatter areas exposed to the ocean as they are packed with marine life. Lots of mussels, barnacles, sea urchins can be found in the lower areas along with sea stars on the edges of the mussel beds. Many species of crabs can also be found scurrying between the rocks.

The Moss Cove area is less extensive but provides a good diversity. This area is exposed to some wave action and has a wide diversity of algae and animals. Look for the low lying rocks near where the trail ends as this is the best location. This is best at a low tide and none-existent at high tides.
View of a larger rock formation looking north.

Heisler Park Tide Pools

The tide pools at Heisler Park offer the visitor a wide variety of locations and habitats. It also happens to be located in one of the most scenic locations in all of southern California. This location has may great beaches, clear water and several larger rock formations. These rock formations are make great habitat for marine life. They are however only accessible during lower tides. This location has lots of mussels, barnacles, limpets and a good variation of algae. The calmer waters also have sea hares during certain months.
Location, Parking and Amenities The tide pool area is located at the base of the cliff. It is a large area to explore. The cliff has a great set paved walking trails that are very popular with visitors and the many tourists that visit Laguna Beach. Parking is available on the road next to the paths and is fee based. Note this location is usually very crowded especially on weekends and tourist season. Restrooms are available along with lots of benches for a great picnic opportunity.

Tidepool Access

The tide pools are accessible by taking one of the three pathways to the beach. There is one at the north end, the middle and the southern end.

Points of Interest

There are several groups of tide pools at the park. Starting at the north end, there is a long beach with a large flat outcropping. This is a great place to start as it is flat and covered by mussels and barnacles. The water is very clear and visitors can see the green and brown algae and sea grass swaying back and forth in the current. Garibaldis can be seen here on occasion. There is a tricky narrow path that leads to this location and is not suitable for people without good balance.

The middle part of the tide pool area has several large rocky outcroppings. Some are flat while others are rugged boulders. This area is best explored at really low tides that will expose the many animals that live at the base of these rocks. The top of the rocks near the ocean have numerous indentations that have been made over the years by various animals like chitons and limpets. Parts of this area also have vast mussel and barnacle beds.

Just to the south of this area is another beach. This beach however has lots of shallow rocks and generally has lower wave action. This is where sea hares, nudibranchs and octopus can be found. Be careful in this area as the rocks are very slippery. Do not expect to find lots of barnacles and mussels as they prefer the more exposed areas. Look for large clusters of snails and especially the large turban snails.

The southern part is also quite rugged. This is the more exposed areas and more difficult to get too. This is similar to the middle area that has lots of rugged rocks and boulders.
Tidepools at La Jolla Cove

Kid Friendly Tide Pools in Southern California

There are plenty of really good tide pools in southern California. Some are great for kids while some are not. The term kid friendly means different things to different people and may result in a different recommended list. The criteria used for this list is as follows and is applicable for smaller children under the age of 8 or so:

1) There should be plenty of marine life that is easy to see. Lots of life right under your feet or on a wall in front of your face.
2) The tide pool location should be easy to get to. No long walks, hikes, scrabbling over large boulders or having to move through water. There are many tide pools that are simply too far for small children to walk too.
3) There should be bathrooms nearby.
4) There should be some sand around or other feature. In my experience, the kids will at some point end up playing in the sand after a while so having something else to do is an advantage.

Here are the recommended locations in no particular order. Click on the links to read more about each location.

Orange County Tide Pools

North Crescent beach tide pools. Finding a parking space here can be challenging during the summer months and nice weekends. There are restrooms, an outstanding beach and great tide pools to the north. Note that Shaws cove to the south is also good but does not have restrooms.

Little Corona Beach tide pools. There is a small hill but easy enough for little ones to manage. Restrooms are available and plenty of marine life and rocks to climb on. There are lots of marine life to see and a great beach to play on.

Los Angeles County Tide Pools

Whites Point tide pools. This is a great location where kids can see marine life just a few feet from the parking lot. There is also an old foundation that used to be a hotel in the 1930s that is fun for kids to explore. Portable restrooms are available and there is a fee to park.

Leo Carrillo State Park tide pools. This is a great location to see tide pools. There is a flat area that features marine life that lives in calmer areas and a more rocky area that has animals that prefer more exposed areas.

San Diego County

La Jolla Cove tide pools. Can be a bit crowded but has easy access, restrooms and lots of marine life to see. This location offers very easy access to tide pools with lots of life. Note that seals are frequently seen in the kid pool as well making this a great family outing.

Cabrillo National Monument Tide Pools. This a fantastic location to see some great tide pools. There is parking, although crowded in summer, restroom and not long of a walk. There is also a nice calmer area with water the kids can play in when the waves are small. There are also lots of rocks to explore and climb on.
One of the many rock out cropping in tidepool area

Coal Point

The tidepools at Coal Point are located at the north end of the beach area in Isla Vista. These tidepools are characterized by flat pools of water trapped by low lying rock formations. There are several larger rocky boulders and rock outcroppings that are covered with marine life including barnacles, mussels and aggregating anemones. Several hardened oil deposits also can be seen on the beach that are the remains of an oil spill long ago. Lots of green algae covers most of the ocean floor and tidal areas.
The tide pools are located at the point in the Devereux Slough area. The beach and tide pools are at the base of a long high bluff. The best place to park is near the corner of Camino Majorca and Del Playa Dr. There many parking spaces along the open space along Camino Majorca. Follow the paths to the beach. There are no amenities near this area.

Tidepool Access

It is best to go to the beach first and walk north along the beach to the tide pool location. There are paths through the bluff the farther north you go but they tend to get a little steeper and trickier to traverse. The best tide pools are located at the point of the preserve.

Points of Interest

The tide pools at Coal Point are mostly a boulder field with a few larger rocky areas. The beach is a gently sloping and extends a hundred yards or so. There is lots of green and brown algae as this area is a calmer that other exposed areas. The higher rocky out crops have lots of rather large mussels. The mussels themselves are covered by small acorn barnacle to the point the mussels are almost completely covered.

Other larger rocks higher in the tide zone are covered with the smaller acorn barnacles. This is a great location to see the various in the tidal zones. This location got its name from the many oil deposits that are still common along the high tide line. The oil in this area occasionally seeps to the surface and will wash onshore.
The tidepools at Whites Point

Whites Point Tide Pools

One of the best features about this location is the easy access. There is a parking lot right next to the tide pool area. The tidepool area has a large rock bench area about the height of a medium tide. The top of this bench is covered by huge beds of mussels and barnacles with hardly any bare rock showing. The area closest to the parking lot is located in the higher tidal zones. This area is packed with snails and hermit crabs. The area to the south is a mix of rock benches with deep channels. These channels are ideal habitat for a variety of marine life and should be explored.
The tidepools at Whites Point Looking toward the parking lot from tidepool area The large pool on top of the upper bench Seagulls are a common site A shallow pool in the tidepool area Aggregate sea anemones in a shallow pool Barnacles form thick clumps on the more exposed areas Many channels intersect the rocky area creating good tidepool habitat One of the hot spring areas. Notice the white or light grey area that is actually mats of bacteria
Whites point is located in San Pedro at the end of Kay Florentino Dr. This is a small street that intersects West Paseo Del Mar. Follow Kay Florentino Dr to the end and turn left and park as close to the tidepool area as desired. This is a self service fee area. Restrooms are available at the north end of the parking area.

Tide Pool Access

Access to the tidepool area is easy. Simply exit your car, take a few steps and you are there.

Points of Interest

The tide pool area has three main areas to explore. The first area is closest to the parking lot. This area can be identified by an old foundation that was once a hotel built around the hot springs. All that remains of the foundation is a 1-2 food concrete wall that is deteriorating. This area has lots of snails and hermit crabs in the pools that surround the rocky areas. Small fish and also be seen darting back and forth.

The next area is the elevated large rock bench area. The top of the bench is covered with large beds of mussels and barnacles. There is also a large pool on top of this area that is packed with urchins, sea anemones and algae. Plenty of small fish also inhabit this pool. The mussels and barnacles are so extensive there is hardly any bare rock showing. The outer edge of this rock bench forms a cliff that falls off into the ocean. The lower sections of this cliff area are covered by a variety of algae. A few urchins and anemones can be seen in the larger protected cracks.

Note that very few if any sea stars are in this location as the sea star wasting syndrome has reduced the populations to few if any animals. The abundance of mussels and barnacles is the result of the reduced number of sea stars. Sea stars are the primary predator for mussels and barnacles and without the key predator, the populations increase dramatically.

The third section of the tidepool area is the vast area to the south. This area is composed of large rocky areas that have many shallow and deep channels that run through the rocks. This creates lots of vertical surfaces ideal for limpets, algae and more mussels and barnacles on the outer edges. Sections of this area can be particularly difficult to walk on so care should be taken exploring this area.

Another point of interest is the hot pools in this area. There are a few pools of water that have what looks like a white or light grey slimy coating. This coating is actually billions of bacteria that are specially adapted to use the sulfur from the hot springs as an energy source. The hot spring locations can also be found by following the odor of rotten eggs.
Abalone Cove tidepool area as seen from parking area

Abalone Cove Tide Pools

The tide pools are located at the base of a cliff in Rancho Palos Verdes. These tide pools have a large shallow lagoon exposed during low tide that has large numbers of sea hares, sea anemones and urchins. Healthy populations of algae are also present in this area. The shallow pool area is protected from wave action by high rock benches. The outer portions of these rock benches have mussels, barnacles and other common marine life more adapted to greater wave action. Be sure to explore the pools on these benches as they have red urchins and lots of small fish, Chitons, giant key whole limpets and much more.
Abalone Cove tidepool area as seen from parking area Tidepool are looking south from beach area Shallow lagoon in tidepool area Tube snail building complex on rock One of the numerous sea hares found in the lagoon area Looking north from lagoon area One of the few places in southern California to see a red sea urchin Purple sea urchins are abundant in the shallow pools. Can you find the 5 fish in the picture. Colony of aggregating sea anemones Urchins and sea anemones are very common Barnacles on flat rocks exposed at lower tides Giant key hole limpet can be found

Location, Parking and Amenities

The parking lot for the tidepool area is located at the top of the cliff. The entrance to the parking area is from Palos Verdes Drive just south of Sea Cove Drive. Note that this is the only access to the tidepool area as there is no street parking available. There is a fee to park in this lot. Portable restrooms are available in the parking area and the beach area.

Tide Pool Access

Access to the tide pool area is from a long dirt trail at the south end of the parking lot. There are two trails to choose from. The upper trail ( Chapel View Trail ) intersects the Beach School trail and ends at the beach. The lower trail ( Abalone Cove Trail ) follows a steeper narrow dirt trail down to the beach. Both trails end at the same location. Follow the path along the beach to the base of the cliffs to the south. Note that the tidepool area extends around this cliff and provides great opportunity to view marine life and is a bit less crowded.

Points of Interest

The tide pools at Abalone Cove allow visitors to see a wide variety of marine life. The area has a few large rock bench areas that surround a large, shallow lagoon area. This lagoon area is exposed at lower tides. This area is not too rough and easily waded. However, the rocks are covered with algae and very slippery. The lagoon area has large numbers of sea hares, sea urchins and anemones. The rock formations provide excellent habitat for these animals and are particularly abundant.

The rock benches further out have numerous smaller pools of water. These pools also have large amounts of urchins, anemones, lots of fish, chitons, barnacles and the occasional red urchin. Giant keyhole limpets can also be found near the deeper parts of the lagoon. Large beds of Mussels and barnacles can be found on the outer portions of the rock benches.

The more exposed outer portions of the rock benches are covered by a variety of red and brown algae. Most of the lower portions are completely covered by sea palms, feather boa kelp and a variety of red algae. Note that there are very few sea stars as this area was particularly affected by the sea start wasting syndrome.
Leo Carrillo tidepool area looking south from the bluff

Leo Carrillo Tide Pools

The tide pools at Leo Carrillo can be thought of as two distinct areas. The first area is a wide stretch of beach area that extends for several hundred yards to the south of the main bluff area. This beach area has a vast cobblestone area exposed at low tide. Marine life that prefers calmer water flourishes in this area. The next area is the several large rocky out cropping extending from the bluff area into the ocean. This area is prime tidepool area for marine life that prefers locations exposed to greater wave action. Each area has incredible diversity and numbers of marine life.
Leo Carrillo tidepool area looking south from the bluff One of the several rock out croppings Leo Carrillo tidepool area looking north from the bluff One of the many pools of seawater exposed at low tide A giant green anemone found in one of the many pools Sea stars are common throughout the tidepool area especially near and on the rock out cropping Pool containing mussels, barnacles, sea anemones and red algae Sea star exposed on rock at low tide A large clump of mussels and barnacles A pool with sea anemones and urchins A pool with solitaire anemones, limpets and mussels A lone sea star in a shallow pool surrounded by brown algae One of the many colonies of sand castle worms found in the rocky areas

Location, Parking and Amenities

The park is located about 28 miles north of Santa Monica. There is a visitor center in the park that provides information and day parking. Park in this parking lot or park along Pacific Coast Highway ( south direction only ). Turn onto the Beach Access Road to enter the park from either direction from PCH. Note that additional parking close to the beach is available by following the beach access road under the bridge and following the road to the lot. Restrooms are available in the parking areas and visitor center.

Tide Pool Access

From the parking lot at the visitor center, follow the beach access road to the beach area. This is a short walk. The road leads to the beach area with vast cobblestone tidepool area exposed at low tide. Follow the beach or road a bit further to access the rocky outcropping from the bluff area. The tidepool and beach area can also be reached by parking along Pacific Coast Highway and following one of the numerous dirt paths.

Points of Interest

Leo Carrillo State Park offer exception tidepool viewing opportunities. The large cobblestone area is ideal habitat for marine life that prefers calm water and low wave action. Sea hares are common in the sandy areas and small pools of water. Sea anemones, the occasional sea star and countless snails are also present in this area. Hundreds of snails can be seen gathering around rocks near the beach area. The cobblestones in this area are covered with algae and particularly slippery. Care should be taken when exploring this area.

The other section of the tidepool area consists of several large rocky out cropping. Each of these areas is a single large section of rock with a relatively flat top that extents out to the sea. Waves will crash violently on the outer areas that provides great habitat for marine life that prefers these conditions. Mussels and barnacles are very common in this area. Limpets, snails and crabs are common in the upper tidal areas.

These rocky areas also have numerous pools of sea water that harbor a wide variety of sea life. Many of these pools have large giant green sea anemones, sea stars and urchins. In the more protected areas, large colonies of sand castle worms can be seen. This area provides a good opportunity to see marine life representative of the various tidal zones. Overall, this area provides an exceptional opportunity to see a wide variety of marine. This includes species that prefer calm water to species that prefer the more extreme and wave prone areas.