11 Best Tide Pools In Los Angeles and Orange County
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11 Best Tide Pools in Los Angeles and Orange County

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Los Angeles and Orange County are home to some of the most beautiful California beaches and tide pools in the world. From secluded coves to bustling shorelines, there are plenty of incredible spots to explore. Tidepooling offers the perfect combination of excitement and education all in one, making it a perfect activity for families.

Start exploring and discover the best tide pools in Los Angeles and Orange County.

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11 Best Tide Pools in Los Angeles and Orange County 3

What time of year is best for tide pools in Southern California?

The best time of year to explore these amazing ecosystems is during the fall and winter (October through March), when the tides are low during daylight hours and the water is generally clear. During this time, you can find a wide variety of sea creatures in the tide pools, like brightly colored starfish, anemones, crabs, shrimp, and other small marine life.

When is the best time of day to visit tide pools?

The best time to go tidepooling is when the tide is low, this is when the tide goes out and the rocky shoreline is exposed. You can check the low and high tides with the chart app is TideGraphPro for the iPhone. Or check online – NOAA tide chart.

What should I wear to the tide pools?

When deciding what to wear to the tide pools, it’s important to take into account both the environment and the abilities of your kids. The tide pools can be a rocky and wet surface, so wearing something that can withstand potential slippage is key. Comfortable shoes with a good grip are essential, avoid wearing sandals or flip-flops. Water shoes are a great option.

Also, depending on the season and temperatures at the beach, you’ll probably want to bring a light jacket just in case the temperatures drop. Towels and extra clothes are must, especially with little kids, who will in all likelihood get wet. A hat or sunglasses are also a good idea and, last but not least don’t forget to bring sunscreen! With these items packed and ready to go, you’ll have an enjoyable experience exploring the wonders of the tide pools!

What should you not touch in tide pools?

When exploring tide pools, it is important to be mindful of the delicate balance between marine life and its environment. While it may be tempting to touch or pick up marine life, doing so can have serious consequences for both the animal and the habitat. This is a great time to teach your kids about how our own actions can have consequences for nature and the environment. Introduce the principle of leave nature as you found it.

It can be tempting to want to bring home “souvenirs” like rocks and seashells, but these are also part of the tide pool’s ecosystem and essential to leave in place. To ensure a safe and enjoyable experience at a tide pool, always remember explore the tide pools, but don’t bring them home.

What is the Marine Protected Environment?

The Marine Protected Environment (MPE) is an area of the ocean designated as a protected zone to conserve marine life and habitats. These areas can be found all around the world, and vary in size from small coral reefs to large marine reserves. MPEs protect areas that are important for biodiversity conservation, provide habitat for endangered species, or are important sources of food and livelihoods. They also play an important role in preserving marine ecosystems and their services such as coastal protection, recreation, tourism, and fisheries. In addition, MPEs provide a buffer against climate change impacts by providing refuges for species affected by warming temperatures and ocean acidification. Ultimately, MPEs serve to preserve our oceans for future generations.

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Los Angeles Tide Pools

Abalone Cove Shoreline Park – Rancho Palos Verdes

This spot features two beaches (Abalone Cove and Sacred Cove) that offer stunning views of the ocean and Catalina Island and beautiful tide pools to explore when the tide is low. Off Palos Verdes Drive South, there is easy access to a parking lot. Be prepared for a long walk from the parking area to Abalone Cove Beach. You can use one of two paths between Portuguese Point and Inspiration Points along Palos Verdes Drive South in order to reach Sacred Cove.

Malaga Cove Beach – Palos Verdes Estates

Parking is available near the intersection of Paseo Del Mar and Via Arroyo. From there, access Malaga Cove via the Malaga Cove Trail. On the lot’s north side, the path gets going. When the walk reaches the base of the bluff, you have two options: head right to reach the sandy beach, or turn left to the rocky shoreline with tide pools, diving sites, and Haggerty’s, a left-hand surf break.

Malibu Lagoon State Beach – Malibu

This is one of the best tidepools near Los Angeles to check out for a first time excursion or with younger kids. It’s easy to access from the parking lot and offers a stretch of sandy beach to enjoy even when the tide is in. Once you hit low tide, the rocky pools are exposed and you’ll see all kinds of creatures, like sea urchins, mussels, and starfish.

El Matador State Beach Tide Pools – Malibu

On Pacific Coast Highway, south of La Piedra and El Pescador State Beaches, El Matador Beach is situated just north of Zuma. You can access the parking lot entrance off of PCH, south of Encinal Canyon Rd. You may want to save this spot for tide pool exploration with older kids. Just getting from the parking to the beach itself can be tricky, as there is a steep path and some stairs leading down. There are caves to explore as well, but keep in mind that the caves and pools are only accessible during low tide, so you have to time your visit.

Leo Carrillo State Beach – Malibu

Leo Carrillo State Park features a 1.5 mile stretch of beach for tidepooling, surfing, windsurfing, swimming, and other water sports. Tides pools, coastal caverns, and reefs are some of the offerings at this popular beach spot. Park in the pay lot and walk through the tunnel under PCH to reach the sand.

Point Dume – Santa Monica/ Malibu

Headlands, cliffs, rocky coves, and a large beach are all part of the fun at Point Dume State Beach and Preserve. Swim, surf, and scuba diving are all popular at this hotspot. During the migratory period from December to mid-April, Point Dume is an ideal spot to whale watch for California gray whales.

Point Fermin Park Beach – San Pedro, Los Angeles

Point Fermin Beach is located below the sloping bluffs of Point Fermin Park and the Lighthouse in San Pedro. Although this beach is not sandy, it has fantastic tide pools and beachcombing opportunities. From the west end of the park along Paseo Del Mar, there are two routes that lead to the rocky beach: one starts at Leland Street and the other at Meyler Street or Roxbury Street.

White Point Beach / Royal Palms Beach – San Pedro, Los Angeles

Some of Southern California’s most unique tide pools may be seen at White Point. Fishing, surfing, and scuba diving are all excellent in the vicinity. The rough shore makes swimming unadvisable. One of the County’s best-kept secrets, this beach has more than 1.5 miles of rocky coastline, 30 acres of parkland, and lots of parking.

Orange County Tide Pools

Orange County has many tide pools with most of them between Dana Point and Corona Del Mar in Newport Beach. 

Crystal Cove State Park – Newport Beach

Reef Point, Rocky Bight, Pelican Point, and Treasure Cove are the four locations in Crystal Cove State Park where there are pools to see and explore. The park is easily accessible from I-5, 405 and 73 and is situated off Pacific Coast Highway between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach in California. Route 1 along the Pacific Coast runs right past the Park. Parking is available at stoplights on PCH’s oceanside (Reef Point and Newport Coast) as well as inland. The Los Trancos parking lot with trolley access to the Historic District is a few miles north of Reef Point.

Dana Point Tide Pools at Doheny State Beach – Dana Point

If you’re looking for more of an educational experience, the Ocean Institute at Dana Point hosts 2-hour naturalist led tide pool hikes in the Marine Conservation area. The Visitor Center at the Ocean Institute is open Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., as well as Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can also check out the tidal pools on your own at any time. In addition to exploring the pools, the Ocean Institute has plenty for visitors, including five ocean environments tanks with creatures from each location, mounted exhibits of the animals and birds that live at Doheny, and much more.

Corona del Mar Beach – Newport Beach

The Corona Del Mar area of Newport Beach is home to Little Corona Del Mar Beach, a well-liked little beach near the mouth of Buck Gully. This rocky cove is popular with tidal pool fans, scuba divers, and snorkelers. This is a great spot for younger explorers as it’s very easy to access without any steep stairs or trails.

Looking for more to explore with your kids? Check out our guides to things to do in Los Angeles and the South Bay:

5 of the Best Hiking Trails for Families in Los Angeles

The 2023 Carlsbad Ranch Flower Fields are Blooming

Where To See Wildflowers in Southern California

The Best Places to See Monarch Butterflies in Southern California

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