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.
Location, Parking and AmenitiesThe 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 AccessFrom 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 InterestLeo 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.