Point Dume tidepools looking south from cliff trail

Point Dume Tide Pools

The tide pools at Point Dume State Park are located just to the south of the large cliff that makes Point Dume famous. The tidepool area consists of a vast rock field exposed at low tide with numerous shallow pools that house a wide variety of marine life. This area has huge numbers of aggregating and solitaire sea anemones, a few sea hares, sea stars along with a good variety of algae. Larger rocks that are more exposed to wave action can be found at the base of the bluff area. Mussels, barnacles, anemones and a few sea stars can be found in this area.
Point Dume tidepools looking south from cliff trail Point Dume tidepools looking north from cliff trail Many rocks are covered by mussels and aggregating sea anemones Rocks are more exposed to wave action in the northern area Sea hares can be found in the pools in calmer areas Area covered by solitaire anemones and algae covered rock surface Area covered by solitaire anemones and algae covered rock surface Sea stars can be found on the lower sections of rocks An old engine is home for a variety of marine life There are numerous pools exposed at low tide that are home to algae, sea hares and a variety of marine life Man of the rocks are covered by colonies of aggregating anemones A lone seagull stands atop one of the many rocks in the tidepool area

Location, Parking and Amenities

Point Dume State Park is located just off of Pacific Coast Highway in Northern Malibu. Access to the parking area is from Westward Beach Road. Follow this road past the guard gate ( fee required ) all the way to the end closest to the bluff. There is plenty of parking in the large parking area. There is another very small parking area located on Cliffside drive. This parking area has maybe 8 parking spaces and is always filled. There is no fee to park in this area. Restroom facilities are available in the large parking area.

Tide Pool Access

Access to the tidepool area is through the large nature preserve that spans most of the bluff and sand dune area. The nature preserve is accessed from the main parking area to the north (recommended) or from the smaller parking area on Cliffside drive. Follow the nature trails in the nature preserve to the southern end of the preserve. There is a long steep trail and staircase that leads to the beach and tidepool area.

Points of Interest

The tide pools at Point Dume are composed of two distinct areas. The northern area is located at the base of the cliff. This area has large mussel beds, barnacle beds, rocks covered with colonies of aggregating anemones and the occasional sea star. Mussels are common in this area as it is more exposed to wave action than the southern area. The rocks are large and can be difficult to traverse. There are several pools in this area with large solitaire sea anemones and other marine life.

The area to the south is composed of a vast rock field. The rocks are generally smaller with several sections of large flat areas. Numerous small and large pools maintain healthy populations of algae, snails and anemones. Some of the flat rocky areas are covered by numerous solitaire sea anemones, red and brown algae. Other isolated larger rocks are completely covered by colonies of aggregating anemones.

A few areas have large colonies of sand castle worms that look more like rocks with thousands of small holes. This area is less exposed to wave action and has few if any mussels and barnacles. There are plenty of limpets, snails, chitons and the occasional sea hare, sea star and variety of algae and sea grass.
Woods cove looking north.

Woods Cove Tide Pools

Woods cove is a small cove located in south Laguna Beach. The cove has rocky outcroppings in the north, south and several in the middle of the small cove. The best tide pools location is the northern bench area and the rocky outcropping in the middle. Woods cove has a great variety of marine life including urchins, sea stars, anemones, mussels, barnacles, limpets and plenty of small fish that are easily visible. The northern area is mostly flat and good for viewing the wide variety of marine life. This area has two large pools, one on the upper part that has lots of upper tidal zone life ( snails, limpets ) and a lower pool that has lower tidepool life like urchins, sea stars, mussels and barnacles.
Woods cove looking north. Small rock with tidepool filled with anemones There are many channels in the rocks that provide great vertical surfaces Large mussel bed on exposed rock Sea grass exposed at low tide Several small and large pools have a variety of algae and marine life Mussel and barnacle bed on large bench area Sea star in one of the many pools Urchins, algae and anemone in small pool. Can you find the sea star? Pool filled with urchins Pool filled with sea star Large channel separating smaller islands Smaller crevasse with barnacles

Location, Parking and Amenities

There are two entrances to the cove each located on Ocean Way on either side of Diamond Street in south Laguna Beach. Free parking is available on Ocean way but is nearly impossible to find an available space. Additional metered parking is available on Pacific Coast Highway and the side streets scrounging the area. Be prepared to walk a good distance in summer months. There are no restrooms or restaurants.

Tide Pool Access

Access to the beach and the tide pools is from one of two staircases. The staircase leads to the beach and the tidepool areas are just a short walk away. Note that the cove and most of the beach is underwater at high tide.

Points of Interest

There are three separate tidepool areas located in the cove. The southern rocky outcropping is rugged and has a good variety of life. This area is difficult to walk on and the least accessible for the ordinary visitor. The rock grouping in the middle of the bay provides an easy way to walk up to the rocks and see the wide variety of marine life clinging to vertical rock walls and large rocks. The third and best tidepool area is to the north ( Cactus Point ).

The middle group of rocks provides great variety both from a terrain and marine life perspective. There are large rocks with nearly vertical sides covered with mussels, barnacle, red and brown algae. A few sea stars can be seen in the lower tidal areas. There are several smaller rocks covered by aggregating sea anemones and solitaire anemones. This area provides a great way to see a variety of marine life easily as long as there is a low tide.

The tidepool area to the north is exceptional both in variety and numbers. This area has two large pools, one located on the upper terrace and the other located on the lower terrace. The upper pool has marine life suited for the upper tidal zone. This pool has lots of snails, limpets, crabs, barnacles and plenty of small juvenile fish.

The lower smaller pools have lots of urchins and sea stars. Many of the pools also have an abundance of sea anemones and red algae. These pools are so packed with live there is hardly any rock showing. The lower terrace also has vast beds of mussels and various barnacles. The deep channels that separate the small islands are covered with a variety of brown algae easily visible at low tide. There is also a smaller tidal area that has lots of sea grass, brown algae and anemones at the base of the northern section.
Southern tidepools at Shaws Cove

Shaws Cove Tide Pools

Shaws Cove is a small beautiful beach with rocky points to the north and south. These rocky points are where the tide pools are located. The north location is a large bench area with deep channels and large pools. This area is covered by mussel beds, barnacles, rock weed. This great habitat also means there is plenty of other marine life to see including abundant sea starts, urchins, sea anemones, giant colonies of sand castle worms and many varieties of algae. The southern area is also a bench but has fewer channels and the pools are large but shallower. There are lots of sea starts, urchins, expansive mussel and barnacle beds. This area is also a bit flatter and easier to walk on.
Northern tidepools at Shaws Cove Southern tidepools at Shaws Cove Sea stars at edge of mussel bed Sea stars feeding on mussles Sea anemone closed up at low tide Low tide exposes sea stars and red algae Looking at the northern tidepool bench from the southern area Assorted barnacles growing on large mussels Kelp snails can be found in the lower tidal areas Various mussels, barnacles and limpets cover most all the rocks Northern tidepool area has lots of channels and larger pools Snails congregate in cracks during low tide Pool containing large sea anemones, urchins, sponges and sea stars Channel filled with thousands of mussel shells Sand Castle worms covering the lower part of the channels

Location, Parking and Amenities

Shaws Cove is located at the intersection of Cliff drive and Fairview street in Laguna Beach. There is a stair case that leads to the beach and tidepool areas from this intersection. Note that parking is free but very difficult to find on weekends and warmer months. Be prepared to park a ways away and walk. There are no restroom facilities in this location but there restrooms at Crescent Bay a short walk to the north.

Tide Pool Access

Follow the staircase at the top of Cliff drive down to the beach. The tidepool areas are a short walk either to the north or south depending on which area is of interest.

Points of Interest

Shaws cove is one of several excellent tidepool areas in this small stretch of coastline. Crescent bay to the north, Santa Ana and Fisherman’s cove to the south are also comparable to Shaws Cove and worthy of exploration. This discussion applies to these areas as well. The tide pools at Shaws Cove are one of the most extensive and diverse in all of southern California. The variety and numbers of plants and animals is outstanding.

The northern tidepool area is generally a flat bench with several large channels that allow sea water to rush in at high tide. The tops of the bench an sides of the deeper channels are covered with mussels, barnacles, red, brown algae and sea anemones. The deeper channels closer to the beach have massive sand castle work colonies that extent for several feet. The pools of water have numerous urchins, large sea anemones and fish. Numerous sea stars can be found on the edges of most mussel beds closest to the ocean.

The northern areas also have several areas covered by rock weed. Walking on this algae is discouraged but also very slippery. This area however is great to explore at higher tides as there is plenty of marine live that live in and around the rock week areas. The areas higher in the tidal area have numerous snails, hermit crabs and other marine life that inhabit small cracks and pools of water.

The southern tidepool area is a large flat bench area covered by massive beds of mussels and barnacles. The outer, more exposed portions of the bench area have numerous sea stars, urchins and giant green sea anemones. On top of the bench area, there are several large, shallow pools. Visitors can see numerous sea stars and anemones easily. The outer areas are also covered by red and brown algae. The upper tidal areas in this location also provide good habitat for limpets, snails of all types and hermit crabs.
Tidepools at Thousand Step beach.

Thousand Steps Beach Tide Pools

This tide pool are is located on the northern end of Thousand Steps Beach in South Laguna. The beach is probably one of the most picturesque locations in all of Orange County. The beach and tidepool area is located at the base of very high cliffs. The tidepool area consists of large boulders and two narrow bench areas. This location has plenty marine life and diversity in a smaller area. The boulders are covered with mussels, barnacles and limpets. The two narrow benches have sea stars, anemones and a diverse algae population. The large of the benches provides a good sampling of all the intertidal zones ranging from the splash zone to the lower intertidal. This beach and area is much less crowded than locations to the north and south.
Tidepools at Thousand Step beach. Mussels and aggregating anemones cover boulders and rocks. Sea stars feeding near mussels Several small pools shelter a variety of marine life Sea Anemones in small pool Sea stars and algae are visible at low tide Mussel beds are plentiful near the mid tide zone Rock showing various zones of tidepool life Various limpets and algae in upper tidal zone Sand castle worms cover the lower parts of rocks, mats of aggregating anemones and mussels Mussels cover many of the more exposed rocks

Location, Parking and Amenities

Parking for this tidepool area is located along Pacific Coast Highway in South Laguna where it intersects 9th street. Parking is available along Pacific Coast Highway and neighboring streets. Note that this area can be crowded during summer months so expect to walk a ways. There are no restroom facilities.

Tide Pool Access

Access to the tidepool area and beach is by a stair case near the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and 9th street. Take the stair case down to the beach and turn north. There are lots of stairs, about 258 the last time I checked. Walk along the beach and hop over the small rock ledge to the tidepool area. Note this rock ledge may not be passable at high tide.

Points of Interest

The tidepool area consists of two narrow benches and a boulder field. Many of the boulders are covered in part by a mussels, barnacles and limpets. Some of the boulders also have large colonies of sand castle worms and masses of aggregating anemones.

The two benches have large populations of mussels, barnacles, limpets, snails and smaller populations of sea starts. This area has several smaller pools that contain sea anemones, urchins and even a few fish that quickly dart out of site when visitors approach.

The lower parts of the benches are covered by a variety of brown algae. Sea grass can also be seen on the outer edges in the lower tidal zones. This area has good diversity even though the area is small in size. There is quite a variety of marine life in this area. Close inspection will reveal a variety of crabs, limpets, snails, mussels, barnacles and even the occasional sea urchin and tube worm.

The larger of the two benches is a bit uneven in places and requires extra care to traverse to the outer edges. This outer area is the best place to see sea stars and animals that inhabit the lower tidal zones.
El Matador State Beach northern tidepool area

El Matador State Beach Tide Pools

This State Beach is well known for several large monoliths ( large rock formations with shear sides that are perpendicular to the beach ) located in the tidal zone. These monoliths have lots of marine life and easily accessible at low tide. The beach and tidepool area is located at the base of steep cliffs. This area also has a larger boulder field that provides great habitat for mussels, red and brown alga, barnacles, the occasional sea star, sea hare and lots more. The rock monoliths provide a good view of the variety of marine life in the different tidal zones. The boulders are covered by red algae and have large Chitons and colonies of aggregating sea anemones.
El Matador State Beach northern tidepool area Stair case leading to beach One of the large rock monoliths The monoliths are home to a variety of life Mussels, barnacles and sea anemones cover many of the rocks Mussels and barnacles on the monolith on the ocean side Sea star, anemone, red algae are present on this rock. Sea start is small, brown next to anemone in this picture. Example of boulder field Animal and plant zones can be seen on many  of the rocks The bare spots are grazed over by large Owl limpets Large colonies of aggregating anemones covered with bits of shell are common on the larger boulders. Large Chitons can be seen in many places Solitaire sea anemones are common in the flat, less exposed portions of the tidal zone Red algae is abundant in the tidepools There is at least seven different animals in this picture.

Location, Parking and Amenities

Access to the state beach is by a small road from Pacific Coast Highway. This access road is marked by a brown and yellow sign that is easily missed if the driver is not aware of the location. Follow the small road down to the parking area. This is a self service fee area and is monitored frequently. There are portable restrooms located in the parking area.

Tide Pool Access

Access to the tidepool area is by a dirt path that winds down the very steep cliffs. The dirt path ends in a staircase that provides access to the beach. There are two tidepool areas, one the north and one to the south. Both areas have similar marine life. The northern area is larger in size and has more habitats for marine life. The southern part has more pools and algae covered boulders.

Points of Interest

The first location a visitor should visit is the large monolith near the staircase. The ocean facing part has large amounts of mussels and barnacles. Walk around this rock formation and explore the passages in the interior. Also explore the boulders around the monolith as they are also covered with masses of mussels, barnacles and limpets.

The tidepool areas to the north and south are boulder fields that have large and small pools of water. These pools of water have lots of snails, sea anemones and other marine life. The rocks are mostly covered by algae that make walking in this area treacherous at best.

The larger rocks and boulders have marine life representative of all the different tidal zones. These range from the lower tidal zones where algae and anemones are dominant. The mid zones have lots of mussels, chitons, limpets and barnacles. The upper parts of the rocks have smaller barnacles, snails and smaller limpets.
Tidepools at Little Corona Beach

Little Corona Beach Tide Pools

The tide pools are located at a very nice beach in Corona Del Mar in Orange County. There are two distinct areas of tide pools. The area to the north of the beach has lots of larger rocks with scattered marine life. The preferred area to the south has a broad area of boulders and uneven rock surfaces that make ideal conditions for tide pools. This area has numerous small and large pools that provide lots of upper, middle and lower tidepool habitats. These tide pools provide lots of diversity any many types of animals can be seen including mussels, barnacles, sea hares, limpets, snails, crabs and several kinds of algae.
Tidepools at Little Corona Beach Another area of tidepools to the north Mussels cover the upper parts of the outer rocks Sargasso algae covers most of this pool Tube worms and clams A Hopkins Rose nudibranch in a small tidepool Can you see the Sea Hare? Small pool filled with purple urchins Softer rock with thousands of small depressions with a Chiton at the bottom Mussel covered rock with Seagulls standing guard Giant keyhole limpet A Lobster molt ( shell discarded during growth phase ) with snails feeding on remains

Location and Parking

The tide pools are located a Little Corona Beach. This beach is just south of Corona Del Mar state beach. Entrance to the beach is by a wide path that starts at the corner of Ocean Boulevard and Poppy Ave. Free parking is available on both streets. Note that parking can be a challenge in summer months so visitors should be prepared to park farther away during this time. Restroom facilities are available at this beach.

Tide Pool Access

Access to the tide pools is from a wide maintenance path from the street corner. Follow this path to the beach and the tidepool area is to the south. The northern section also provides good habitat but the southern area provides more diversity.

Points of Interest

The tide pools at this location are formed by rock layers that have been exposed and weathered. These rocks formations create an uneven walking surface but also create numerous small pools that trap seawater as the ocean recedes. Some of these smaller pools are packed with marine life including purple sea urchins, snails, hermit crabs, algae, anemones and lots more. Sea Hares can also be seen in these smaller pools along with a few nudibranchs.

There are also a few larger pools that provide habitat for small fish and other sea life. Many of these pools are covered with Sargasso weed and other types of algae. The upper parts of the tidepool area have large clusters of hermit crabs and snail populations. Some of the softer rocks have thousands of small depressions carved out over time by Chitons. Many of these depressions have a Chiton living at the bottom.

Large colonies of mussels and barnacles can be found near the lower tidal areas. The mussels and barnacles will occupy the upper portions of the rocks as these areas are more exposed to wave action. Sea stars are also present but a bit more difficult to find as the area provides numerous cracks and channels for the animals to hide.
Dana Point tidepool area

Dana Point Tide Pools

The tide pools at Dana Point is a vast stretch of large boulders and rocks that extend for several hundred yards. This area sits at the foot of huge cliffs that overlook the ocean. The tidepool area starts just north of the small beach behind the Ocean Institute in Dana Harbor. They boulders provide small pools of seawater that are trapped as the water recedes during low tide. These small pools provide a habitat for a variety of sea life including anemones, crabs, snails, fish, mussels, barnacles and a variety of algae. The boulders are mostly covered by algae that make the rocks particularly slippery. There are a few larger bench areas in the more distant areas that provide a different set of marine life to see.
Dana Point tidepool area Large rock with sea life accessible at low tide Mussels covering portions of rock Mussels and sand castle worm colony Sea star in pool of water Sea grass exposed at low tide Tube worms in tidal area Limpets and small barnacles cling to rocks in upper tidal zone Sea Anemone in pool of water Mussels covering upper part of rock Rock with top part covered with mussels and barnacles

Location and Parking

The tide pools are located at the northern end of Dana Harbor near the Ocean Institute. Follow Dana Point Harbor drive north all the way until it ends. Parking is available in several parking lots near this area. There is no fee to park and parking is generally available. The parking area can get extremely crowded during summer weekends and holidays. There are public restroom facilities at this location.

Tide Pool Access

To access the tidepool area from the parking lot, follow the service road that starts from the Ocean Institute to the beach. Once at the beach, walk toward the cliffs and follow a narrow trail closest to the cliff face. This is not much of a trail but is easier to walk on than traversing the boulder fields in the tidepool area.

Points of Interest

There are several large boulders near the beach area covered with mussels. The mussels however only cover the top sections or mid sections of the boulders. These boulders also are teaming with a variety of limpets. There is also a much larger rock just to the south of the beach that harbors a variety of marine life. This however is only available at very low tides and low swell but worth exploring if the timing is right. The tidepool area provides a variety of marine life. A few of the larger boulders near the lower part of the tidal area have large colonies of sand castle worms. These animals create huge colonies of tubes in the more protected areas of the lower tidal area. Large areas of mussels and barnacles can also be seen on these larger rocks in the lower tide zone. There are several areas with large areas of sea grass and algae that cover entire rocks.

There are several more sandy areas that have large numbers of sea anemones that look like they are in the sand but are attached to rocks just underneath. These areas are also great for viewing the many hermit crabs and snails that inhabit these areas. Do not expect to see too many urchins or sea stars. There are a few but very limited.

Most of the mussels and barnacles live on the more exposed larger rocks. There are plenty of sea life to see by taking time and exploring the smaller pools surrounding rocks. The tidepool area is vast and extends all the way around the cliff face.
Pelican Point tidepool area

Crystal Cove State Park Pelican Point Tide Pools

Crystal Cove State Park provides the tide pool visitor with several areas to explore. Each area provides a slightly different set of animals and plants to discover. The Pelican Point area is the northernmost part of the park where tide pools can be found. The tidepool area is a rock and boulder field exposed at low tide. There are plenty of pools of water that trap seawater when the tide recedes. There are plenty of mussels, barnacles, sea anemones and limpets of all kinds. There are areas of sand flats that have provide a different set of animals and seaweed. This area also features interesting rock formation and geology and provides a different experience than the other tidepool area in the park.
Pelican Point tidepool area Pathway leading to Pelican Point tidepool area Rock formations in upper tidal area Hermit crabs in upper tidal area Rockweed covers a large portion of the rocks Owl limpet with smaller limpets and barnacles attached Mussels are common on the exposed rocks Sea Anemone in small pool surrounded by mussels and barnacles Kelp snail with barnacles attached Upper tidal area

Location and Parking

There are three separate parking areas at Crystal Cove State Park. The Pelican point parking area is the northernmost parking area. Visitors traveling on Pacific Coast Highway can enter the park by turning right for southbound travelers or left for northbound travelers on the Pelican Point street intersection. Follow the road past the gate house (there is a fee to enter the park) and park where convenient. There is a pathway that leads to the beach accessible from several entry points in the parking area. There are several very scenic pathways along the cliff top that also lead to the beach from other pathways that originate from this parking area. Follow the signs indicating beach access.

Tide Pool Access

Choose one of the several paths from the parking area and follow the signs to the beach access areas. The pathway is narrow in places and hard packed dirt. This can be slippery in wet weather. Follow the path down to the beach and the tidepool area is located just to the left when you reach the beach.

Points of Interest

The tidepool area has several interesting rock formations. There is a formation of flat rock that is cracked in many places. The upper tidal area is covered with small pools where hermit crabs will entertain visitors. The rock areas are sporadically covered by small mussel and barnacle beds. The lower portions of the rocks are also covered by colonies of aggregating sea anemones.

There are numerous small pools of water in the rocks as the tide recedes. These smaller pools are home to many solitary anemones, red algae and the occasional sea urchin. This tidepool area is smaller that some of the other tidepool areas in the park but provide the visitor with a good opportunity to see a variety of algae and animal life.

The smaller pools in the sandy areas have an abundance of small fish. The fish actively dart around trying to escape predators. Snails and hermit crabs also are in abundance.
Tidepools at Reef Point location

Crystal Cove State Park Reef Point Tide Pools

Crystal Cove State Park provides the tide pool visitor with several areas to explore. Each area provides a slightly different set of animals and plants to discover. The Reef Point area is the southernmost part of the park where tide pools can be found. The tidepool area is a rock and boulder field exposed at low tide. There are plenty of pools of water that trap seawater when the tide recedes. This area has an abundance of aggregating sea anemones that cover the lower sections of most rocks. The rest of the rocks are covered with mussels and barnacles.
Tidepools at Reef Point location Tidepools at Reef Point location at medium tide Pathway leading to the Reef Point tidepool area Aggregating Sea Anemones covering rock surfaces Close up of Aggregating Sea Anemones covering rock surfaces Chiton on exposed rock with algae Pool of water with seagrass and aggregating Sea Anemones on side Rock showing good zonation of species Gooseneck Barnacles with mussels Group of Ochre sea stars feeding on mussels Opened clam Mussel and Barnacle covered rocks Hopkins Rose Nudibranch Solitary Sea Anemone in shallow pool of water Rock with groups of aggregating sea anemones, mussels and a variety of barnacles

Location and Parking

There are three separate parking areas at Crystal Cove State Park. The Reef point parking area is the southernmost parking area. Visitors traveling on Pacific Coast Highway can enter the park by turning right for southbound travelers or left for northbound travelers on the Reef Point street intersection. Follow the road past the gate house (there is a fee to enter the park) and park as far north in the parking lot as possible. There is a pathway that leads to the beach accessible from this location. There are also several very scenic pathways along the cliff top that also lead to the beach from other pathways that originate from this parking area.

Tide Pool Access

Follow one of the pathways from the parking area and walk north. All the pathways in this area will eventually lead to a path that terminates at the beach. It is a bit of a walk but well worth the effort. There are several tidepool areas at this location. From this entry point, there are several locations just to the north and one just to the south. All of these areas provide the tidepool visitor with a great experience. The tidepool area nearest the entry point is a bit larger and provides a little more diversity.

Points of Interest

The first observations that many visitors make is the shell covered rocks. The rocks seemed to be covered with small bits of shells and look suspiciously squishy. These are actually vast colonies of aggregating anemones that use the pieces of shells to protect themselves from drying out and predation. Please be careful and not walk on any of these colonies.

Another interesting feature is the exposed rocks are covered with thick mussel and barnacle beds. The beds or so thick in places no rock surface is visible. At the outer edges of the mussel beds are the ever present sea stars that continually feed on the mussels and barnacles.

There is a small reef that is exposed at low tide on the outer edge of the tidepool area. When the tide is low enough a good size area of protected water is reachable for the determined tidepool visitor. This area is teeming with life including nudibranchs, sea hares, sea cucumbers, crabs, tunicates, clams, tube worms and much more. Care should be taken when exploring this area as the footing can be treacherous.

In areas closer to the beach and in the higher tide zones, a variety of barnacles can be seen on the rocks. Most visitors simply walk by without noticing the large concentrations of barnacles in this area. This tidepool area also has large numbers of hermit crabs that are fun to watch as they continually struggle to find the right sized shell to inhabit.