Hidden Treasures

Trips to the beach may have dwindled since the summer season ended, but winter is perfect for discovering some hidden gems along the shore. November through March is the best time to see tide pools in San Diego, when low and negative tides occur during daylight hours, exposing a whole new world of sea life.

Exploring tide pools gives the whole family a close-up look at wildlife including sea snails, crabs, fish, barnacles, anemones, limpets, sea urchins, mussels, octopi, sea cucumbers, and even starfish and lobsters.

Check out these spots for a tide pooling adventure:

Cabrillo National Monument
Some of the best-protected tide pools in San Diego can be found below the sandstone cliffs in this national park.

Dike Rock, La Jolla
Tide pools can be found just north of the Scripps Pier and La Jolla Shores Beach, in a volcanic rocky area located on University of California, San Diego property.

Cardiff State Beach
The rocks here are 45 million years old and even contain embedded clam fossils – something you won’t likely see at any other local tide pools.

Swami’s State Beach
Though generally known for its surf break, Swami’s is also home to a substantial reef formation.

Birch Aquarium at Scripps
In addition to its interactive Preuss Tide Pool Plaza at the aquarium, Birch also offers guided tide pool adventures on the beaches below.

• Check a tide table online to determine the best time of the day to visit.
• Wear closed-toe shoes with a firm grip. Rocks can get slippery when wet.
• Tide pools are home to delicate ecosystems. Never remove an animal or plant from its habitat.
• Wear reef-safe sunscreen and clothes you don’t mind getting wet.