Point Loma Tide Pools
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 are 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. 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.
The Point Loma tide pools are located within the Cabrillo National Monument fee area, so my first tip for this adventure is to invest in the National Parks Pass. Otherwise, you'll be paying $10 here and $20 there each time you visit a place like this, and that adds up fast. The annual pass is available at the gate or REI.
Check the tide chart before you come and try to visit when the tide is at or below 0. Two hours before or after that point, you should be able to spot some good sea life. The tide pools close at 4:30 pm, and the tides tend to coincide with park hours well during the late fall and winter months (during the summer, low tide, unfortunately, happens in the middle of the night).
Parking can be rough here, so try to come early or on a weekday if at all possible. There are three little lots down by the tide pools, so don't freak out if the first one's full. Keep circling through. Don't try to park up by the monument and walk down; it's way too far.
Wear GOOD Shoes; we slipped all over the place in our flip flops