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San Diego has tide pools galore. You just know where to look. Coronado Island draws many tourists and has some of the best beaches around, but they don’t have any tide pools. Yet close to the city of San Diego there are pools chock full of marine life from Point Loma up to La Jolla. Farther north in San Diego’s North County there are reefs to explore in Solana Beach, Encinitas, and Carlsbad. Before your trip, check California tide tables to determine when the tide is low. That’s the best time to take the family tidepooling.

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SAN DIEGO

Cabrillo National Monument attracts many visitors, but most just take pictures of San Diego and Coronado from the bluff top near the visitor center. Some of the best tide pools in San Diego can be found facing the ocean below this wonderful national park.

In the Sunset Cliffs neighborhood there are tide pools up and down the shore below the cliffs. Consider visiting Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, New Break Beach, or No Surf Beach at low tides. All of these have difficult access routes so don’t go if you can’t handle steep loose trails.

 

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LA JOLLA

Most of the La Jolla waterfront between Tourmaline and La Jolla Shores has tide pools to explore. This includes many shoreline access points. The most photographed rocks are probably the ones north of Whispering Sands Beach, but there are so many other great areas including La Jolla CoveBird Rock, Shell Beach, and the well-hidden Camino De La Costa Access. Visit our La Jolla Beaches page to find more beaches with tide pools.

 

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NORTH COUNTY

Table Top Reef is a rocky reef that is exposed at low tides. You can find this spot by walking north from Tide Beach Park in Solana Beach or walking south from Seaside Beach at Cardiff State Beach. It’s closer to the former, but there’s more parking at Seaside.

Encinitas has tide pools among the rocks north of the stairs at surfing mecca Swami’s Beach.

Carlsbad has a broad reef at Terramar Beach which has been labeled the “Carlsbad Tide Pools” by locals. It’s worth a stop if you are in northern San Diego County during low tides.

See nearby Tide Pools in Orange County and Los Angeles

 

Beaches on this map

  • bigs-tide-pools-at-cabrillo-national-monument-san-diego-ca-large

    Cabrillo National Monument

    There are only a few beach access points in Cabrillo National Monument near San Diego, but this park is loaded with things to see. Point Loma, the peninsula where the […]

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  • Sunset Cliffs Natural Park Bryce Feb2015 (4)

    Sunset Cliffs Natural Park – Garbage Beach

    Sunset Cliffs Natural Park is a steep hillside park between Point Loma Nazarene University and the ocean. There are boot-beaten footpaths all over the hillside here to explore. The beach […]

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  • New Break Beach Sunset Cliffs Bryce Feb2015 (7)

    New Break Beach

    New Break Beach is a hard to reach surfing spot in the Sunset Cliffs area of San Diego. This beach is narrow and probably all wet at high tide. Access […]

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  • No Surf Beach Sunset Cliffs Bryce Feb2015 (5)

    No Surf Beach

    The San Diego area beach known as “No Surf Beach” is located between Hill and Froude Streets below Sunset Cliffs Boulevard in the Sunset Cliffs neighborhood. There is a short steep […]

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    Camino De La Costa Beach Access

    Camino De La Costa Beach Access is located on Camino de la Costa just north of Bird Rock in southern La Jolla. At a sharp bend in the road there […]

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    Bird Rock Beach

    Bird Rock Beach is a rocky shoreline with a view of Bird Rock in the southern part of La Jolla. This area is known for tidepool exploration at low tide […]

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  • La Jolla Cove beach at San Diego.

    Windansea Beach

    Windansea Beach is below Neptune Place in La Jolla at the west end of Westbourne, Nautilus, and Bonair Streets. The name is a shortened version of “Wind-and-Sea” and comes from […]

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    Whispering Sands Beach

    Whispering Sands Beach is a city beach located at the north end of Marine Street Beach in La Jolla. This area is sometimes referred to as Nicholson Point Park even though […]

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    Hospital Beach

    Hospital Beach, aka “Hospitals,” is located along Coast Boulevard in La Jolla. There is a narrow grass strip on the bluff above this point called Coast Boulevard Park. Hospital Point […]

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    Shell Beach

    Shell Beach in La Jolla is located at the south end of Ellen Browning Scripps Park. At this spot there is long set of stairs that takes you from the […]

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  • La Jolla Cove Beach BryceApr16 (5)

    La Jolla Cove Beach

    La Jolla Cove Beach is located at the northeast end of Ellen Browning Scripps Park in La Jolla. This beach is protected by a rocky point which blocks waves rolling […]

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    Tide Beach Park

    Tide Beach Park is the north beach of Solana Beach, CA. Hike down a long set of stairs from the intersection of Pacific Avenue and Solana Vista Drive and you’ll […]

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    Cardiff State Beach – Seaside Beach

    Seaside Beach is a sandy beach in Cardiff State Beach at the border between Solana Beach and the Cardiff-by-the-Sea area of Encinitas, CA. Cardiff State Beach is the long sandy strip along […]

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    Swami’s Beach

    Swami’s Surf Beach is a famous surfing mecca at the south end of Encinitas, CA. The park at Swami’s Beach is a great vantage point for watching surfers and has […]

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    Terramar Beach

    Terramar Beach is the narrow beach in front of the Carlsbad California community of Terramar. Technically this beach is part of South Carlsbad State Beach, but there are no signs […]

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