About Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego, California
There are only a few beach access points in Cabrillo National Monument near San Diego, but this park is loaded with things to see including two lighthouses, unobstructed viewpoints, and amazing tidepools. Point Loma, the peninsula where the park is located, is surrounded by high sandstone bluffs which make shoreline access difficult, however its elevated location offers excellent views of San Diego and Coronado.
The only “beaches” at Cabrillo National Monument are known for tidepooling, not for sunbathing or surfing. So if you want to walk around the shoreline here, then time your visit for low tide when these world-class tide pools are exposed.
As you enter the park, ask the attendant for a map or directions to the Point Loma Tide Pools. They will send you down Cabrillo Road which leads to a parking lot near the new lighthouse at the point. A trail leads down from this parking lot to the most popular tidepooling area. Trails meander all over the bluffs on the west side of the park, but be careful as they are steep and dangerous in places. A lesser known area of tidepools is at the next parking lot up Cabrillo Road before it ends at the wastewater treatment plant gate. Look for fossils in the rock walls that are part of the fossil filled Point Loma Formation.
After checking out the tidepools, you’ll want to drive up to the visitor center. In that area paved paths lead to various landmarks and viewpoints. Interpretive signs are present at most of these sights.
One path leads to the old Historic Point Loma Lighthouse which sits up high in the center of the peninsula. From an area called the Whale Overlook, you can watch for whales and see a second lighthouse amongst the Coast Guard buildings below. A short path near the visitor center goes out to a stone statue of Cabrillo with splendid views of the beaches on Coronado Island and downtown San Diego. Another trail called the Bayside Trail follows an old military road to a quieter area where wildlife can be spotted.
There is a lot to see at Cabrillo National Monument so set aside extra time to explore around. If you want to see the tidepools, check tide tables and time your visit for a low tide.
- 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr
San Diego, CA 92106
- Park Name
- Cabrillo National Monument, Point Loma Ecological Reserve, Cabrillo State Marine Reserve
- Other Names
- Point Loma Beach
- National Park
- Pet Details
- No dogs allowed on the beach
- Entrance fees for vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists
- Hiking, Tidepooling, Whale Watching, Wildlife Watching, Sightseeing, Walking, Photography
- Tide Pools, Trails, Lighthouses, Statue, Restrooms, Visitor Center, Viewpoints, Walking Paths, Interpretive Signs
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