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.
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.
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 Cove, Bird Rock, Shell Beach, and the well-hidden Camino De La Costa Access.
Visit our La Jolla Tide Pools Map page to find more beaches with tide pools.
Tide pools in the rocks north of Whispering Sands
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