Tidepools at La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove Tide Pools

The tide pools at La Jolla Cove are located on the northern end of Scripps Park near downtown La Jolla San Diego. The tidepool area starts at the northern end and wraps around the point for quite a distance. The tide pools are composed of a large rocky bench area that slopes down toward the ocean. The tide pools provide a convenient location for visitors to view tidepool life without having to travel too far. There are abundant limpets, anemones, hermit crabs, mussels and barnacles of different shapes and sizes. Plenty of algae cover the rocks making the rocks very slippery but also makes exploring a bit exiting. The mussels and barnacles can be found lower in the tidepool area along with abundant seagrass. Expect to share the area with many visitors as this is a very popular tourist location.
Tidepools at La Jolla Cove Tidepools at La Jolla Cove La Jolla Cove Tidepool - Wave action at tidepool area can be rough La Jolla Cove - Mussels, Barnacles and algae on rock outcropping La Jolla Cove - Limpets are plentiful on rocks La Jolla Cove tidepool - Calmer inner tidepool area La Jolla Cove tidepool - Rock pitted with holes made by Chitons La Jolla Cove tidepool - Rocks with various limpets Clam in tidepool area Rock with areas of aggregating anemones Tidepool with anemones, chitons and algae Whelk slowly moving on the rocks Exposed rocks at low tide. Notice seagrass area at back Clumps of Barnacles attached to rock Hermit Crab in Whelk shell

Location and Parking

The tidepools are adjacent to the La Jolla Cove on the northern end of Scripps Park in La Jolla San Diego. Free parking is located along the streets around the park. Note that this area is very popular and finding an open parking space can be challenging at times. There are restroom facilities and plenty of shops and restaurants within a short distance.

Tide pool Access

Walk to the northern end of Scripps Park and find the access ways in the low retaining wall. The access ways provide and easy access to the tidepool area. The tidepool area extends all around the point and down the coast a bit. There are multiple entry locations. Each area provides a slightly different topography and opportunity to see different seaweeds and animals. Note that the tidepool area is exposed to the ocean and strong wave action can provide unsuspecting visitors and unpleasant experience. I have seen more than one group of visitors get rescued by lifeguards.

Points of Interest

The first thing a visitor may notice is the upper tidepool area is covered by thousands of small pits in the rock. These pits where formed in part by chitons burrowing in the soft stone over time. The chitons can still be seen at the bottom each pit in many instances. Mussels and other animals will also inhabit these small depressions when the chiton moves on.

The area also provides a good set of horizontal and vertical surfaces that allow for many areas for seaweed and animals to attach too. Mussels and Barnacles can be seen in the more vertical areas farther out in the tidepool area. Most of the lower tidal area is covered by red algae and sea grass in the sheltered areas.

Another point of interest is the limpets. There are a variety of limpets that can be seen on the more exposed rock surfaces higher in the tide zone. On occasion, these limpets will also form a small depression in the rock as limpets tend feed in the same area and return to the same spot during the day. There are numerous shallow tide pools throughout the area that harbor many Anemones and other animals. Take a few moments to explore these areas as there is quite a variety of animals to see. The patient victory will see hermit crabs, plenty of snails, whelks, crabs and the occasional sea start and urchin.
Sunset Clifs looking north

Sunset Cliffs Tidepools

Sunset Clifs looking north Looking south from cliffs Rock formation near tidepool sunset cliffs - Closeup of rocks with small limpets and snails sunset cliffs - Flat algae covered tidepool area sunset cliffs - Looking north over flat tidepool area sunset cliffs - Staircase leading from street to tidepool area sunset cliffs - Tidepool area near staircase sunset cliffs - Rocks with limpets and snails
Sunset Cliffs is a well known surfing location. There also a vast tidepool area located at the base of the cliffs. There is a staircase that leads to the beach and tidepool area that provides easy access. The tidepools consist of a large flat area covered by algae. This large flat area has shallow channels where ocean water moves in and out with the tide. The whole area is covered by water at mid to higher tides. Most of the tidepool life lives in these channels. Sea anemones, snails and small fish are the most common animals found in this area. The northern part of the tidepool area has a more contour where low rock formations provide suitable homes for tidepool life.

Location and Parking

The tidepools are located at Sunset Cliffs Beach area where Ladera Street and Sunset Cliffs Boulevard intersect in San Diego California. There is limited parking on the street where the staircase leading to the beach is located. There is a large dirt parking area just up the street that provides ample overflow parking. Parking is free for the street and dirt parking area.

Tidepool Access

The tidepool area is located at the base of the staircase leading from the street to the beach. The staircase is located at the corner of Ladera Street and Sunset Cliffs Boulevard intersect.

Points of Interest

The tidepools to the south are composed of large flat area with shallow channels. This area is covered with short algae that grow on most surfaces. There are shallow channels in the rock area where ocean water can move in and out. These channels are where most of the animal life lives. Smaller limpets, snails and hermit crabs can be found. Sea Anemones are also present in areas where there is good water flow. The tidepool area to the north of the staircase has a few more boulders. These boulders are also covered by algae. There is a bit more diversity and the animals are a little more abundant. This area also has several areas of shallow water that can be explored if willing to get your feet wet. This area provides more opportunities to see other marine life.
Looking north of tidepool area

Cabrillo National Monument Tidepools

Tidepools at Cabrillo National Monument Skate or ray egg case in seaweed Tidepools at Cabrillo Monument Gooseneck barnacles on rocks Owl limpet with smaller barnacles attached Red and Brown algae growing on rocks Sand Castle worm colony Closed anemone, barnacles and red algae Colony of aggregating anemones Mussels and barnacles in tidepools
The tidepools are located at the very southern end of the park. The tidepools are situated in a cove surrounded by short cliffs making for a very picturesque setting. The location features a large flat area covered with shallow water with low rocks positioned throughout the area. The rocks are covered by a variety of seaweed and various animals. The shallow water area maintains a healthy sea grass and brown and red algae population. This algae population provides a great environment for a variety of juvenile fish and common tidepool animals. This location can become crowded during peak tourist seasons and parking can be a challenge.

Location and Parking

The tidepool location is inside the Cabrillo National Monument Park. Follow the signs to the park and continue past the ranger station. Note there is a $5.00 fee to enter the park. Take the first right after the ranger station and continue down the descending road to the tidepool parking area. The parking area is marked by signs. There are restrooms available but no other amenities. Volunteer docents are present and very willing to answer questions during weekends and holiday weekends.

Tidepool Access

The tidepools can be accessed by a short walk on a dirt trail from the parking area. Follow the trail along the cliff top until the pathway leading to the tidepools is reached. Note the trail continues along the cliff rim and provides breath taking views of the shore and ocean. Continue down the path leading to the tidepools. Note the trail can be slippery during wet conditions so be especially careful during wet conditions.

Points of Interest

There are very interesting rock formations in the tidepool area. The rocks in the lower tidal area have dozens of limpets clinging to the rocks. The owl limpets are particularly large and abundant. Smaller limpets, snails and small barnacles can be found high up in the splash zone. The shallow water area contains large areas of sea grass and other brown and red algae.

There is not a lot of wave action during low tide in this area. This area provides great protection for juvenile fish and sea anemones. Some of the rocks farther out toward the ocean have mussels and barnacles. Do not expect to see too many sea stars and urchins.

The rocks to the south also harbor large colonies of aggregating anemones. This area is a big more rugged and difficult to get to but has fewer crowds. The northern part of the tidepool area is mostly algae covered boulders with a few barnacles and snails and lots of hermit crabs. This area is particularly slippery due to the algae covered rocks.