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.
Location and ParkingThere 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 AccessChoose 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 InterestThe 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.