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.
Location, Parking and AmenitiesShaws 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 AccessFollow 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 InterestShaws 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.