Because of their protected status, some of the best tidepools in California can be found right at Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego, called the Point Loma Tide Pools. On the western side of Point Loma lies the rocky inter-tidal zone, a window into the ocean ecosystem that lies along San Diego's coast. During low tide, pools form along this shore in rocky depressions.
There's lots to see, if you look closely. In the tide pools you may see flowery sea anemones, an elusive octopus, spongy deadman's fingers, starfish, sea cucumber, crabs, sea urchins and a myriad of other creatures.
Remember, you are visiting a delicate and fragile ecosystem. The tidepools are a wonderful discovery zone, but be careful if you visit. Few animals in this ecosystem can harm humans, but many animals are delicate. In fact, it's best to not even touch any of the sea creatures and to be respectful of the area surrounding them as well. The park rangers who patrol the area regularly and strictly enforce park regulations. Ranger walks are available during most low tides and a slide program is shown daily at the Cabrillo National Monument Visitor Center.
What to Wear and How to Visit
You are in an ocean tidal area. Which means chances are pretty good you will get wet to some degree. Be careful. The rocks are usually wet and can be slippery. Wear shoes with good traction and clothes you don't mind getting wet. You will be more relaxed, have more fun and be safer if you don't have to worry about your good shoes or pants getting doused by a stray wave.
The Point Loma tide pools are one of the great natural wonders of the San Diego area. It is a great way to introduce kids to sea life in its entirely natural habitat. It's also a great way to show children how fragile and important this ecosystem can be.
The Point Loma Tide Pools are within the Cabrillo National Monument and operated by the National Park Service. The address to access the tide pools is 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive (Catalina Boulevard) in San Diego. There is a vehicle parking fee if you park up at the lighthouse and visitor's center. Parking for the tidepools is before the parking gate.