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 AccessThe 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 InterestThere 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.