Abalone Cove Tide Pools in Rancho Palos Verdes
If you haven’t been to the tide pools in the city of Rancho Palos Verdes (close to San Pedro), you are missing out on one of the most fun outdoor field trips! Located at abalone cove beach at the base of the cliffs, this rocky beach is covid-safe and a sea life adventure right here in our backyard in the South Bay! Searching for shoreline park tide pools in Los Angeles area? Kids love exploring these micro ecosystems and it’s all outdoors, family-friendly and absolutely gorgeous. Abalone Cove is part of the Abalone Cove Ecological Reserve with public parking available.
Abalone Cove Park features 2 beaches (Abalone Cove and Sacred Cove), tidepools, top of the bluff great views and trails crisscrossing the area. The park contains a State Ecological Preserve, and it is against the law to take any marine life or protected species from it. Off Palos Verdes Drive South, there is easy access to a parking lot. A long route leads from the parking area to Abalone Cove Beach. Users must take one of two trails between Portuguese and Inspiration Points along Palos Verdes Drive South in order to reach Sacred Cove. Only during the summer months and on weekends are lifeguards on duty at Abalone Cove Beach. The ocean and Catalina Island are both magnificently visible. You can visit daily from 9am to sunset – head over at low tide to see the tide pools. There is no admission fee, however there are parking fees.
The tide pools are bursting with life. It’s easy to miss if you look quickly. Be sure to stop, squat down, and LOOK. Give it a minute or two, and you’ll notice things moving! You can see sea anemones aka sea creatures everywhere, sea urchins, star fish, loads of hermit crabs, and all sorts of other marine life. Tide pools are only visible at low tide, and they are entirely covered with ocean at high tide – you can check the time of low and high tide here. For the best view of the tide pools, go up to an hour before low tide or after low tide. That two hour window will give you the best peek into these tiny ecosystems! Check the tide charts for best times of low tide and beware of high tide times.
Parking at Abalone Cove Tide Pools
There is one main parking lot. The upside is that limited parking means limited people using the reserve at any one time. The downside is that it’s possible parking could be full. If you’re headed there on a gorgeous beach day, you may consider arriving earlier or later in the day when there’s less stress on parking.
The parking at Abalone Cove is not free (seniors and handicapped are free). You must take a ticket and pay upon exit. In comparison to the State Beach parking rates, it’s very reasonable. It will cost you around $12 for the day. You can enter the lot between 9am and 4pm.
While dogs are not allowed on the beach, you can bring your dog (on-leash of course) for a picnic in the upper picnic area and on designated trails.
The dirt trail down to the rocky shore beach are steep. You want to wear sturdy shoes, not flip flops. It is possible to bring a Bob stroller or a toddler down and back up, but you may want to pack light and be prepared to go slow.
Here’s a map of the trail.
Also, check out our list of South Bay Wilderness Parks and Easy Trails for Kids!
Two Finger Touch
While we shouldn’t touch most wildlife in the tide pools, if you must allow a child to touch, we suggest teaching children to use a “two finger touch” for a gentler touch in these fragile ecosystems. Using the index and middle fingers, children are more aware of the pressure they exert in their touch and are better able to gently touch without causing harm. We don’t recommend touching the hermit crabs, lol.
Bathrooms are available at Abalone Cove. They aren’t fancy, but they are there.
It’s important to know before you go…food and beverage is not available for purchase anywhere inside Abalone Cove Reserve. There are beautiful picnic areas including a number of picnic tables offering rather amazing views – and of course beach picnic opportunities galore – but you must bring your own lunch, snacks, dinner (see here for local restaurants to grab some to-go food on your way, or here for some to-go ideas you can grab from Costco). The terrain is hilly, so we definitely recommend packing food and snacks that can fit into a compact backpack, skip the soup and remember to take all your trash back home with you. Picnicking is – of course – optional…however remember to pack plenty of water, especially on hot days!
Abalone Cove Park
5970 Palos Verdes Drive South
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275
Looking for more things to do with kids in Los Angeles, check out all our Things to Do Guides.
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