California Tide Pool Locations

  1. California has hundreds of great tide pool location that feature lots of diversity. Tide pools allow visitors to see the underwater world easily and get a glimpse of the fascinating animals that live below. Tide pools are also one of the few places people can see marine animals up close. I have spent the last few years visiting many of these tide pools and have taken thousands of pictures and many hours of video. I wanted to share these experiences with people so they could also enjoy this rich and fascinating environment. This video has information about a TV series ( lifeinatidepool.com/ ) I produced that features these tide pools, interviews with local experts and visit to local aquariums. I also created a website ( californiatidepools.com/ ), youtube channel ( youtube.com/channel/UC6QwOakAtLkDn1Ld4TwHiAw ) and facebook page ( facebook.com/pages/Life-in-a-Tide-Pool/994854543892815 ) that is updated weekly with lots of great information and stories about my adventures. Please take a moment and watch this video to learn more about all these resources that I hope will make your tide pool visit more enjoyable.

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  2. The tide pools at Sunset Cliffs (californiatidepools.com/sunset-cliffs-tide-pools/ ) in San Diego are easy to visit and have an average variety of marine life. The tide pools may not be extensive as other locations in San Diego but are fun to visit when in the area. Take the long staircase down to the beach and the tide pools start immediately from the base of the stairs. Most of the area is covered by vast mats of the red and brown low growing algae. This area can have lots of marine life but it is not as easy to see. Look for the more exposed rocky areas and the small surge channels. There are lots of small barnacles, limpets, chitons, sea grass, a few snails and tube worms.

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  3. The tide pools at the Cabrillo National Monument ( californiatidepools.com/cabrillo-tidepools/ ) are extensive and have a wide variety of marine life for visitors to see. The tide pool area is easy to get to and even has a docent program, restrooms and volunteers to help answer questions. Follow the dirt path along the cliffs and down to the tide pool area. There is plenty of marine life to see including large colonies of aggregating sea anemones, barnacles of all shapes and sizes, top snails, hermit crabs and lots of different types of algae. This location is particularly a good location to see large owl limpet that cling to the sides of rocks. Be sure to visit the other parts of the park as there is an old light house to see, a visitor center, some great hiking trails and stunning views of the city of San Diego. This location was also featured in a documentary nature series Life in a Tide Pool (lifeinatidepool.com/limpets-and-abalone/ )

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  4. The tide pools at Tourmaline Surf Park in San Diego are located to the north of the surfing area. The tide pools are a large boulder field with an occasional larger rocky area. There are plenty of snails, red thatched barnacles, aggregating and solitary anemones, limpets of all kinds and other interesting tide pool animals. This area also has a good number of tube snails near the low water line. Do not expect to see too many urchins, mussels and gooseneck barnacles as these species prefer faster water flows. The rocks are covered by very slippery algae and other macro brown algae. More information is available californiatidepools.com/tourmaline-surf-park-tide-pools/

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  5. The tide pools at bird rock (californiatidepools.com/bird-rock-tide-pools/ ) has an average diversity of marine life. Start off by exploring the rocks at the base of the staircase as they have lots of limpets that seem to live way to high in the tide zone. It turns out that they are feeding on the algae that are growing on the shaded, wetter areas of the rocks. Continue on to the first smaller rock and notice all the small depressions. Each of these has a chiton, sea anemone or other animal living in it. Look a little farther up on this rock to see lots of barnacles and periwinkle snails. If the tide permits, continue walking out to the larger rock with all the birds and look for the sea anemones that are dispersed on the flatter areas. Explore the larger bird rock and look at the base to see lots of different kinds of animals.

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California Tide Pool Locations

Firebolt Films PRO

This channel has a collection of short videos about the best tide pool locations in California. Take a tour to learn where the best tide pool are, what to see and some insider tips on what to expect. This series was produced from the creators of the Life…


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This channel has a collection of short videos about the best tide pool locations in California. Take a tour to learn where the best tide pool are, what to see and some insider tips on what to expect. This series was produced from the creators of the Life in a Tide Pool series that features all kinds of cool and fun information about marine life in tide pools.

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