This tide pool are is located on the northern end of Thousand Steps Beach in South Laguna. The beach is probably one of the most picturesque locations in all of Orange County. The beach and tidepool area is located at the base of very high cliffs. The tidepool area consists of large boulders and two narrow bench areas. This location has plenty marine life and diversity in a smaller area. The boulders are covered with mussels, barnacles and limpets. The two narrow benches have sea stars, anemones and a diverse algae population. The large of the benches provides a good sampling of all the intertidal zones ranging from the splash zone to the lower intertidal. This beach and area is much less crowded than locations to the north and south.
Location, Parking and AmenitiesParking for this tidepool area is located along Pacific Coast Highway in South Laguna where it intersects 9th street. Parking is available along Pacific Coast Highway and neighboring streets. Note that this area can be crowded during summer months so expect to walk a ways. There are no restroom facilities.
Tide Pool AccessAccess to the tidepool area and beach is by a stair case near the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and 9th street. Take the stair case down to the beach and turn north. There are lots of stairs, about 258 the last time I checked. Walk along the beach and hop over the small rock ledge to the tidepool area. Note this rock ledge may not be passable at high tide.
Points of InterestThe tidepool area consists of two narrow benches and a boulder field. Many of the boulders are covered in part by a mussels, barnacles and limpets. Some of the boulders also have large colonies of sand castle worms and masses of aggregating anemones.
The two benches have large populations of mussels, barnacles, limpets, snails and smaller populations of sea starts. This area has several smaller pools that contain sea anemones, urchins and even a few fish that quickly dart out of site when visitors approach.
The lower parts of the benches are covered by a variety of brown algae. Sea grass can also be seen on the outer edges in the lower tidal zones. This area has good diversity even though the area is small in size. There is quite a variety of marine life in this area. Close inspection will reveal a variety of crabs, limpets, snails, mussels, barnacles and even the occasional sea urchin and tube worm.
The larger of the two benches is a bit uneven in places and requires extra care to traverse to the outer edges. This outer area is the best place to see sea stars and animals that inhabit the lower tidal zones.