How to Experience the Point Loma Tide Pools in One Day


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The Point Loma Tide Pools are one of the most popular areas to check out when visiting Cabrillo National Monument. In fact, it is one of the most preserved rocky intertidal areas open to the public in Southern California’s coast.  

Even though you cannot go swimming in the Cabrillo National Monument area, there is still so much you can learn and experience when visiting. Imagine engaging in a surreal environment where you view sea creatures in their natural environment. 

Yup. I am talking about the Point Loma Tide Pools here.

This is probably one of the best activities that you can do when visiting Cabrillo National Monument. 

Not only will you learn a lot, but you will experience what life is like for these sea creatures living in the intertidal zone area. 

There is one thing to keep in mind, and that is that the tide pools are only visible during low tide times.

So it fluctuates.

It’s not everyday you can visit the tide pools. 

Since the tide pools are only fully exposed during certain times of the month, it is best you plan ahead and check out the tide pool calendar before heading off. 

Be sure you also prepare ahead of time by bringing the right footwear. The intertidal rocky area is very slippery, so without the right footwear you are likely to slip. 

Where to find Point Loma Tide Pools
























The tide pools are located in Point Loma, California. They are actually nestled in Cabrillo National Monument Park.

These tide pools are actually known as the rocky intertidal area. 

As a simpler definition by Merriam Webster. A tide pool is defined as:

“a pool of salt water that is left behind when the tide goes out and in which small sea animals (as snails, crabs, and barnacles) are often found”

How to Help Make the Point Loma Tide Pools live forever

I know human interference has caused many people to retract from talking about Cabrillo and the Point Loma Tide Pools.

However, I feel that the more people learn and educate themselves, then we can all protect these tide pools. 

The more we understand how fragile they can be, then we can all change the impact that humans make and instead help take care of our ecosystem. 

It starts with you. 

So please do not do not try to handle marine life in any way. Instead learn from and observe it. The survival of these plants and animals does depend on you. 

So when visiting the tide pools of Point Loma just remember a couple things. Like do not try and remove a plant or animal from the rocky intertidal zone and change it to another.

Doing so can actually kill them. 

According to a marine biologist, things like trash, oil spills, erosion, sediment buildup, and polluted runoff can also destroy these tide pools. 

By doing simple things like watching young children and not allowing them to climb on areas where they are not supposed to, or staying on trails helps a lot.

Also by NOT trespassing in areas where you are not supposed to such as the sea cave. Not only is it dangerous, but it is illegal and protected by the marine mammal protection act. 

The best time to visit the tide pools in Point Loma

As mentioned earlier, there are certain days of the month where it is best to see the tide pools. 

Most days the tide pools are not exposed and you must wait.

  • check the tide pool calendar to see when the best time to visit

  • arrive 2-3 hours early before the rush of crowds

  • Talk to the volunteers before going to the tide pools. They have a lot of knowledge as far as what kinds of animals you can find and what to look out for

Other things to see around the Point Loma Tide Pool area

The Point Loma Tide Pools is one of the most popular areas to visit in almost all of Cabrillo, but there is also so much more to explore. Our blog details the 15 things you can also do when visiting Cabrillo National Monument. You can read our blog here.

Tips to remember when visiting the tide pools

  • The parking lot of the tide pools gets very busy quickly especially during summer months…so be sure you plan and arrive much earlier. 

  • Do Not let children get into areas where they are not supposed to; volunteers are there to educate; not babysit your kids

  • Do Not transfer wildlife from one tide pool area to the next; doing so can kill them because they are NOT adaped to live there

  • Do not trespass in areas where your NOT suppose to be; including the Sea cave; you could get fined with a penalty

  • Stay on the DESIGNATED trails to prevent erosion and protect the sensitive plants

  • Protect these sea creatures by learning about them and their survival

  • Help fund local places to keep this place alive for generations to come

  • Bring good non slip shoes or rubber boots to experience the tide pools

  • Check out visitor center to learn more

  • There is no cell phone service at all. So just prepare ahead of time.

  • One the coolest things is that if you are a California resident you can buy what is known as a yearly pass for $35 and visit whenever you like. 


After visiting the local San Diego area, take a day to not only enjoy the beaches, but to learn from them. By visiting the Point Loma tide pools, you can learn, engage and experience in the ecosystem you never knew about. 

This is definitely one of the most rewarding experiences you can do.

If there is enough time, I highly recommend you check out the visitors center where you can engage and learn the history that Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo brought to Point Loma. 

I learned so much and I know you will too.

Check out the amazing view atop Kelp Forest or Whale Overlook area where you can possibly catch a glimpse of whales migrating across the ocean. The best time to check these out would be January and February. 

In addition, at the tide pools you can experience the history of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo by watching the films at the visitor center. 

Take the hike to the lighthouse where you can experience what life was like for the light keeper and his family.

Remember to check the tide pool calendar beforehand to see when the best time to go.

All in all, please be respectful of marine animals and all plants and species. Also please practice safety when hiking the trails of Cabrillo. Do not get too close to the edges.

Do not try and trespass into the sea cave area. The unstable coastal bluff could give in at any moment and you do not want to be anywhere near there. 

All in all, you can learn so much from visiting the Point Loma Tide Pools. When you start learning about places like these, it is only then where we can learn to protect them for future generations. 

If you would like to learn more about how trash is impacting our oceans and what you can do to change that then read our blog here. 

Tell us… Have you visited the tide pools in Cabrillo National Monument?

Jess and Jeanette are two sisters who were inspired by their family beach vacations while growing up. Their passion lies in guiding you toward the most remarkable beach destinations across the United States! Cheers! ❤️

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