arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up play-button plus tab-indicator dots close menu search facebook google-plus instagram pinterest rss twitter youtube rss-two heart Check FeaturedBadge linkedin minus apps placeholder linkedin

San Diego's Tide Pools

Exploring life at the edge of the sea

Sprinkled along San Diego's stunning coastline, intertidal ecosystems can be found where the land greets the sea. Curious explorers can discover a variety of fascinating tide pool residents on walks along the beach during low tide when sea water recedes and the rocks and reefs are exposed.

Encounter Hidden Treasures When the Tide Rolls Out

November through March is the optimal time for tide pooling in San Diego when the tide is low during daylight hours. Remember, these protected tide pools are home to delicate ecosystems, so please tread lightly and never remove the creatures from their coastal habitat. Here's a guide to the best tide pools in San Diego County's beach communities and marine parks.

Cabrillo National Monument Tide Pools


At this national park, the site where Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo first discovered the West Coast and San Diego Bay, excellent tide pools can be found below the sandstone cliffs. The southern end of Cabrillo has myriad depressions in the rocks and this intertidal zone is filled with plants, invertebrates and fish. Look for periwinkle snails, shore crabs, acorn barnacles, troglodyte chitons, limpets, California mussels, anemones, California sea hares, fishes, lobsters and even octopuses.

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park


This gorgeous spot is famous as a perch for watching the sun drop into the Pacific, but good tide pools await during low tide. Here, you will find hundreds of sea anemones, little crabs and fish. Please keep in mind that the descent down the sandstone cliffs to Garbage Beach can be tricky as it's steep.

Dike Rock Tide Pools

Part of the La Jolla Underwater Marine Park, these tide pools can be found north of the Scripps Pier and La Jolla Shores Beach. Along this volcanic bench of rock, look for star fish, limpets, mussel, anemones and the occasional octopus.

Birch Aquarium at Scripps


In addition to offering incredible ocean views, the Preuss Tide Pool Plaza at the aquarium has an interactive pool filled with sea stars, sea anemones, hermit crabs, sea cucumbers, lobsters, abalone and more. Birch also offers guided tide pool adventures on the beaches below with trained naturalists who offer an in-depth look at and lesson about the creatures that inhabit these natural wonders.

Cardiff State Beach/Seaside Beach Tide Pools


This stretch of sand that connects Cardiff and Solana Beach has easily accessible tide pools just south of Lifeguard Tower # 10. At low tide, kids can play on the flat rocks, part of Table Top reef, and discover myriad creatures tucked in the nooks and crannies. The rocks here are 45 million years old and contain clam fossils as well.

Swami's State Beach Tide Pools


At this local's favorite beach in Encinitas, you'll find tide pools north of the stairs. After looking for sea hares, brittle stars and hermit crabs, hang out for sunset and watch the surfers catch the day's last waves.

Map of San Diego's Best Tide Pools

Find a place to stay

Book online or call 1-800-350-6205 to speak with a local expert

Related Articles and Features

Deals just for you

Trains

Seniors Save 15%

Amtrak Pacific Surfliner
Valid: Mar 23, 2018 - ongoing

Take the scenic route to San Diego.  Travelers ages 62 and older can enjoy a 15% savings off the adult rail fare on Pacific Surfliner trips year-round.  Onboard amenities include a...

Restaurants

$5 off Weekend Champagne Brunch Cruise on San Diego Bay

Hornblower Cruises & Events
Valid: Mar 15, 2018 - ongoing

$5 off any weekend Champagne Brunch Cruise aboard Hornblower Cruises in San Diego. This two-hour cruise features a bountiful brunch buffet, free flowing champagne and the best views of San Diego Bay,...

Accommodation

Poolside Escape Package

The Westgate Hotel
Valid: Apr 10 - ongoing

Immerse yourself in pure relaxation in a serene home away from home at The Westgate Hotel.  This package includes an overnight stay in a Premier room or Suite, and a healthy basket welcome...

Events to check out

Event

Bike the Bay

Aug 26, 2018

Experience Bike the Bay, a scenic bayside ride, and also enjoy a rare opportunity to ride over the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge.

Event

KAABOO Del Mar Festival

Sep 14 - Sep 16, 2018

KAABOO is the ultimate live entertainment experience. Enjoy world-class music, hilarious comedy, inspiring contemporary art, incredible cuisine, craft libations, and personal indulgences. This...

Event

Swoop Freestyle FAI World Championships

Sep 14 - Sep 15, 2018

Swoop Freestyle is the latest extreme sport and the only parachuting event to take place within major cities worldwide, bringing the action straight to people's doorstep. Swoop Freestyle FAI World...

Stay in touch

Sign up to receive the latest news, events, and updates about San Diego. Our monthly and weekly newsletters will keep you informed about the latest and greatest happenings in the destination.

Sign Up

Visitor planning guide

For the ultimate guide to planning your San Diego vacation, view and download the San Diego Visitor Planning Guide, packed with useful information that will help you plan the perfect San Diego getaway.

Read More

Partners

Explore

Plan

Stay

Follow Us

Language:

English | Change Language

Select your country or region

China FlagChinaGermany FlagGermanyGreat Britain FlagGreat BritainJapan FlagJapanMexico FlagMexicoKorea FlagKoreaSwitzerland FlagSwitzerlandBrazil FlagBrazilFrance FlagFranceAustralia FlagAustraliaCanada FlagCanada USA

Or use Google Translate

Afrikaans Albanian Arabic Belarusian Bulgarian Catalan Croatian Czech Danish Deutsch Español Estonian Filipino Finnish Francais Galician Greek Haitian-Creole Hebrew Hindi Hungarian Icelandic Indonesian Irish Italian Japanese Korean Latvian Lithuanian Macedonian Malay Maltese Nederlands Norwegian Persian Polish Portuguese Romanian Russian Serbian Slovak Slovenian Swahili Swedish Telugu Thai Turkish Ukranian Vietnamese Welsh Yiddish