La Jolla Tide Pools: Expert Tips, Best Beaches, When to Go (2023)


La Jolla tide swimming pools are among the many finest on the town, as we now have a number of spots to go to alongside our 7-mile shoreline. One of the numerous nice issues about them is that they by no means look the identical. Tides change, and sea life strikes from one habitat to the following. I’m an enormous advocate of going to the seaside when they’re seen, whether or not you’re a resident or a vacationer.

What you’ll discover on this publish is a mixture of tide pooling matters: the place to go tide pooling in La Jolla, a preview of sea life usually seen, suggestions for finest tide pooling practices, and different useful recommendation you’ll wish to learn earlier than heading out your self.

My sources embrace data gathered from my very own experiences (together with a tide pooling journey tour with Birch Aquarium) and an interview with Danny Beckwith, an Education Specialist at Birch Aquarium after I first printed this text.

See additionally: Best Tide Pools in San Diego

When Is the Best Time to Visit La Jolla Tide Pools?

While tide pooling is a well-liked factor to do in winter, I’m getting tons of questions on it year-round attributable to an elevated curiosity in methods to get exterior in San Diego.

Danny says, “Typically, we start seeing good times [for tide pooling] starting in late October, going all the way to March.” The moon’s gravitational pull (the solar has a smaller tidal impact, too) on the Earth because it rotates causes decrease tides to fall throughout daylight all through this season.

Fun reality: California experiences two excessive tides and two low tides per day.

Where Are the Best La Jolla Tide Pools?

  1. Dike Rock
  2. La Jolla Shores Beach
  3. La Jolla Cove
  4. Shell Beach
  5. South Casa Beach
  6. Between Wipeout Beach and Hospital Point
  7. Windansea Beach
  8. False Point
  9. Birch Aquarium at Scripps

Most entry factors to La Jolla seashores could have tide swimming pools if there’s a minus tide. Some entry factors are tucked away in residential neighborhoods, whereas others are simply accessible from Coast Blvd. or La Jolla Shores Beach.

However, the very best tide swimming pools in La Jolla to take a look at for folks unfamiliar with the world are listed under.

1. Dike Rock

Tips for visiting la jolla tide pools

Dike Rock is positioned simply to the north of Scripps Pier. This is the place Birch Aquarium hosts tide pooling excursions as a result of it’s the most effective tide swimming pools in La Jolla.

Danny says, “Dike Rock is interesting because it’s more of a sandy habitat interspersed with big rock formations.” The sand attracts juvenile fish, blind gobies, and completely different shrimp.

The youngsters cherished fastidiously climbing over the rocks right here throughout our tour. Every little pool was house to a special plant or animal. The profit to tide pooling in a bunch is that there are extra eyeballs to spy completely different animals—I can’t suggest it sufficient.

And, after all, the Birch Aquarium guides are enjoyable to discover the tide pool ecosystems with as a result of they know precisely the place to look. When we visited, large sea hares had been out in abundance laying eggs.

Directions: It’s best to park within the La Jolla Shores Beach parking zone. You’ll stroll onto the sand and head north towards Scripps Pier. Pass the pier, stroll just a few hundred yards, and also you’ll see the rocky space at low tide.

You may also discover nearer Dike Rock parking alongside El Paseo Grande Street and use the cement stairway to the seaside simply south of Caroline’s Seaside Cafe. You’ll see Scripps Pier to the fitting and can hold strolling to Dike Rock.

You will see some parking heaps on this space however notice that they’re UC San Diego parking heaps, and permits could also be required.

2. La Jolla Shores Beach (South of The Marine Room Restaurant)

I’ve been instructed that prime numbers of child sea hares have lately been noticed right here at low tides. This reef formation can be enjoyable to probe for the standard marine life, like hermit crabs, tube snails, sea cucumbers, and extra.

If the tides are low, exploring this space and Dike Rock on the identical go to can be straightforward. It’s in all probability a 20-minute stroll on the sand between these two finest tide swimming pools in La Jolla. And La Jolla Shores is one among my favourite sandy seashores in the complete San Diego space.

Directions: Park within the La Jolla Shores Beach parking zone and stroll south on the sand previous our two La Jolla seaside inns. You may also park on the floor streets close to The Marine Room restaurant and use the general public seaside entry on the south aspect of La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club to entry the tide swimming pools and lovely views at this very fashionable San Diego seaside.

3. La Jolla Cove

A sea lion rests during low tide at the La Jolla Cove tide pools
Sea lion resting at low tide on Point La Jolla

If it’s low tide at La Jolla Cove, most of the La Jolla sea lions and seals will head out to little rock islands within the ocean. This means you may be capable of stroll out onto the massive flat rocky space referred to as Point La Jolla between Boomer’s Beach and La Jolla Cove, the place they might usually hang around.

I say may as a result of this level is slated for year-round closure beginning in November 2023, so I’m not precisely positive what your potential to discover tide swimming pools will probably be like when strolling onto the rocks right here is prohibited. The sea grass and rocks in view throughout low tides are beautiful, and even should you’re on the boardwalk or at adjoining Ellen Browning Scripps Park, you may see some crabs and some sea anemones however not a lot else.

best tide pools
The sea lions gained’t probably be right here throughout low tide, however that is one other little tide pooling spot to search for.

Your finest wager is to take the steps all the way down to the sand to discover the small cave and rocky areas accessible from La Jolla Cove seaside. This little spot and the Point La Jolla space are often what folks consult with after they point out La Jolla Cove tide swimming pools.

The different excellent news is you can begin right here and stroll south down the boardwalk to a number of of the opposite tide pooling spots listed under. This seaside is a superb place for swimming as a result of waves usually don’t break right here, and it’s an entry level to the underwater park the place you’ll see much more sea life snorkeling or scuba diving.

Directions: Find La Jolla Cove tide swimming pools parking alongside Coast Blvd or close by residential streets. During peak busy days (weekends throughout tide pooling season), you could wish to think about a paid lot alongside Prospect Street. The closest is within the La Jolla Financial Building. I’ve written intimately about La Jolla Cove parking.

4. Shell Beach

Shell Beach tide pools in La Jolla at golden hour.
Shell Beach tide swimming pools at golden hour.

Shell Beach is a superb little place for tide pooling and one among my favourite hidden gems. The final time we visited, seen marine life included numerous hermit crabs, limpets, small fish, and some sea anemones. The Shell Beach tide swimming pools generally reveal themselves in the summertime, which, as talked about earlier, is just not the traditional tide pooling season.

The cement stairway to the sand could be blocked on the base by huge rocks washed up by the ocean. You’ll have to tread fastidiously over them.

Directions: The stairway to Shell Beach is adjoining to Ellen Browning Scripps Park on the south aspect, so that you’d park your automotive as should you had been visiting La Jolla Cove.

5. South Casa Beach

Keep strolling south from Shell Beach towards Children’s Pool Beach. South Casa Beach is behind the Children’s Pool sea wall and lifeguard station (Children’s Pool is the place the La Jolla harbor seals hang around). This is one other tide pooling gem with quick access by way of a stairway. This tends to be a simple spot for youths to discover as there may be sand to stroll on along with rocks.

Directions: You can park at La Jolla Cove. Alternatively, there may be road parking on Coast Blvd or close by residential streets.

6. Between Wipeout Beach and Hospital Point

best tide pools in la jolla

Walk a couple of minutes additional south from South Casa Beach to Wipeout Beach. From right here to Hospitals, passing Whale View Point is one among our favourite tide pooling spots.

If you’re a images buff, Hospitals is the place these little spherical and curved swimming pools reveal themselves (they’re extremely well-liked on Instagram and Pinterest) throughout low tides.

Here, you’ll discover principally rocky bluffs with little pockets of sand. Over time, we’ve noticed crabs, limpets, sea anemones, fish, sea slugs, urchins, and extra. Stay for the sundown.

Directions: Wipeout Beach is roughly the place Coast Blvd and Coast Blvd South briefly merge into Coast Blvd South earlier than splitting once more. You can discover road parking on any of those streets. You’ll see a bit grass strip referred to as Coast Boulevard Park, and Hospital Point is true under it.

7. Windansea Beach

Rocky shoreline with famous shack in the background at Windansea Beach.

The waves surfers rave about listed here are attributable to underwater reefs. Some reveal themselves throughout low tide.

It tends to be rather less crowded right here, although it’s principally a sandstone panorama (that you simply’ll should scramble down a bit) versus precise sand. Sea anemones and varied small crabs appear mostly seen right here.

Directions: Windansea Beach is roughly on the intersection of Nautilus Street and Neptune Place.

8. False Point

False Point is an efficient possibility for these dwelling in or staying within the Bird Rock neighborhood. Its draw is that there are many rocks to navigate, a lot of that are unfastened.

This additionally signifies that you should be very cautious when strolling on the rocks and keep watch over young children right here because the tide swimming pools and rocks are notably slippery.

The excellent news is that flipping them over (remembering to place them again) can reveal varied sea creatures. (This can be the place Birch Aquarium used to guide excursions, however they’ve principally been at Dike Rock lately.)

Directions: You’ll discover these Bird Rock tide swimming pools at Sea Ridge Drive and Linda Way, the place there may be residential parking. Take the steps all the way down to the seaside from Sea Ridge Drive.


If you comply with Sea Ridge Drive north, it turns into Calumet Avenue. You’ll see a small grassy park referred to as Calumet Park. Below the park is a tide pool space. It’s a bit small and I wouldn’t exit of my solution to solely go to it however it’s a 5-minute stroll from False Point.

9. Birch Aquarium at Scripps

Tide Pool Plaza at Birch Aquarium
How fairly is that view? Docents employees the tide swimming pools and reply questions.

When you go to this San Diego aquarium, head out to Tide Pool Plaza for the most effective views in San Diego and to see the tide swimming pools. No, this isn’t the seaside, however they’ve constructed a rocky intertidal zone crammed with sea life that you’d see in La Jolla tide swimming pools.

What can be neat about Tide Pool Plaza is that docents are current to reply questions and assist folks contact the place applicable. You can test the schedule additionally to see when tide pool feedings are occurring throughout your visits.

This is the place I ship folks to see tide swimming pools when no daylight low tides are occurring throughout their go to. Birch Aquarium ought to be on the San Diego itinerary of anybody with youngsters who’re aspiring marine biologists or have an interest within the surroundings.

Directions: The handle is 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla, CA 92037. They supply free three-hour parking of their predominant lot.

What Lives in La Jolla Tide Pools?

It’s unbelievable to suppose that an animal should be capable of tolerate currents, solar, and generally hours within the air to outlive life in tide pool habitats.

“A lot of animals can feel you are walking on the rocks or sense chemicals in the water, and they’ll hide for a little bit,” Danny provides. “If you’re just quiet and watching the tide pool for a moment, those animals will start revealing themselves. It really is a type of magic.”

This is on no account a whole record of animals, however these are probably the most generally seen in La Jolla tide swimming pools and San Diego tide swimming pools throughout the county.

Sea Anemones

La Jolla tide pool tips

Did you recognize that sea anemones can dwell 50 years or longer and that there are over 1000 varieties discovered at completely different depths worldwide? Sea anemones are my favourite tide pool creatures.

We have principally two sorts right here in San Diego. The first is the solitary sea anemone, which I’ve at all times been notably keen on. Their tentacles vary from a pale inexperienced to a blueish-green coloration.

To survive within the air or when disturbed, they curl their tentacles inward to disclose a tender brown exterior dotted with damaged shells. When submerged in water, their tentacles are usually open.

The different sort of sea anemones mostly seen are smaller, much less colourful (or brown, actually), and dwell in teams. Sea anemones may also slowly change location, too.


Tips for la jolla tide pools
Photo is courtesy of Birch Aquarium

Our little tide pool crabs are small and quick, scurrying sideways over tide swimming pools with their little pinchers. Fun to look at; they’re in a position to cover in little crevices and just about eat no matter they will seize. They can cut up time above and under the water.

Limpets and Chitons

la jolla tide pools

While they don’t transfer round as you’re watching, I personally love discovering chiton and limpets caught to rocks. They’re fairly widespread in all of our tide swimming pools.

Hermit Crabs

best la jolla tide pools

Always a supply of leisure, hermit crabs could be present in abundance. I’ve seen them scurrying round in varied sizes and beneath quite a lot of shells each single time I’ve been tide pooling in La Jolla.

(To assist youngsters struggle the temptation to take shells from the seaside, inform them that the hermit crabs want them for housing.)

Two-Spot Octopuses

While I’ve but to see an octopus in a San Diego tide pool, Danny vividly remembers his first sighting.

“I got really lucky when I pulled up this turban snail shell,” he says. Turban snail shells are generally discovered round La Jolla tide swimming pools and are concerning the dimension of your fist. He noticed a bit arm and tentacles scrunched up inside and realized it was an octopus utilizing the shell as a hiding spot. He put it in one among their bins and out got here a 2-foot lengthy octopus.

“It just blows your mind because this animal is just scrunched up in there like a cool, neat little hiding place,” Danny says. Octopuses haven’t any bones, to allow them to match into any area the scale of their beak, a neat adaptation for dwelling in tide swimming pools.

Sea Stars

Environmental modifications impression the variety of sea stars seen in native tide swimming pools. We had been fortunate to see two throughout our Birch Aquarium tide pooling tour at Dike Rock.

tide pools in la jolla
A brittle star discovered throughout a Birch Aquarium tide pooling tour in La Jolla.

One of our Birch Aquarium guides noticed a brittle star and scooped it up with water right into a bin for us to see (along with this little sea slug).

The youngsters cherished watching our guides and volunteers attempt to determine what sort of starfish the one pictured under was.

A sea star in a La Jolla tide pool.

It was neat to see the starfish transfer round this pool!

Spanish Shawl

A colorful Spanish shawl as seen in a La Jolla tide pool.
Photo courtesy of Birch Aquarium

Tide poolers in La Jolla can often spot two forms of sea slugs. This first is a Spanish Shawl. It’s solely 2-3 inches lengthy, however its neon purple and orange gills are fairly putting in opposition to the tide pool panorama.

Sea Hares

Sea hares and their eggs (the orange string) as seen at Dike Rock tide pools in La Jolla.
Sea hares and their eggs (the orange string) as seen at Dike Rock tide swimming pools in La Jolla.

On the opposite aspect of the ocean slug spectrum, sea hares develop to a couple of foot lengthy. Sensors that appear to be rabbit ears on their head sense chemical compounds within the water.

Did you recognize you can inform what a sea hare has been consuming by its coloration? If they’re consuming purple algae, they flip purple. If they’re consuming darkish inexperienced algae, they flip black or inexperienced. Sea hares may even emit a darkish purple ink if harassed.


If there are tide swimming pools, there’ll more than likely be quite a lot of barnacles. You’ll see the common selection that grows in clusters on rocks and piers, along with bigger gooseneck barnacles.

Very Important Tide Pool Etiquette

Good tide pooling etiquette is critical to guard these gems. Take solely photos, go away solely footprints is an efficient mantra to bear in mind if you go.

Due to folks spending extra time in outside sights, our tide swimming pools are receiving extra visitors than regular, and it’s really worrying environmentalists and residents.

  1. Much of La Jolla’s shoreline is within the La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve. This signifies that you could not take away any marine objects, whether or not dwelling or useless, from these areas. This consists of the world roughly between La Jolla Cove seashores and La Jolla Shores seaside.
  2. Watch out for algae-covered rocks as you discover the tide swimming pools. If it’s inexperienced, brown, or black, keep away from stepping on it or tread evenly.
  3. Whatever you herald, take again out. If you progress something like a rock, put it again. An animal could be utilizing it for a habitat.
  4. Never flip your again on the ocean. It’s straightforward to get excited and never see a wave coming.
  5. If you’re going to the touch one thing, train warning. Be conscious of what could be in your fingers, like hand sanitizers or different chemical compounds which may be dangerous to animals. If you’re not sure of what one thing is, the very best apply is to not contact it. Always rinse your fingers off first and solely contact for just a few seconds.

This graphic is incredible to talk about with youngsters and whomever you’re going tide pooling with. Please put it aside to Pinterest or print out a PDF right here: Birch Aquarium Tide Pooling Tips.

Birch Aquarium Tide Pool Tips

Good tide pool etiquette may also be practiced at house. Danny factors out that the tide swimming pools are the primary interface between land and water in order that any runoff will hit them first.

This means something getting into our storm drains—litter, chemical fertilizers, oil, grease, and extra—can impression our tide swimming pools. Did you recognize that one of many many roles our tide swimming pools carry out to guard us consists of slowing down water earlier than it erodes our cliffs?

They’re vital. Let’s shield them.

What Should I Bring Tide Pooling?

The following recommendation is what I’ve discovered helpful whereas tide pooling with youngsters in tow.

Sturdy Shoes

Footwear is extremely vital. Shoes or boots with a superb grip that may get moist are splendid. Flip-flops will not be suggested as a result of algae that cowl rocks are very slippery when moist.

It can be clever to maintain a change of sneakers within the automotive should you’re headed elsewhere after a tide pooling journey. Your sneakers will get sandy, moist, and soiled.

Pocket Guide

(As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.) If not on a tour the place you might have folks serving to you determine sea life, we just like the California Seashore Life Pocket Guide, which identifies native birds, crabs, fish, clams, mussels, sea urchins, and different sea critters you may see in or close to a tide pool space (sea slugs are oddly lacking from it).

Light Stick

If there may be seagrass in an space, it’s useful to carry a lightweight stick to softly brush it away because it floats over water. However, skip the stick should you or the youngsters can’t resist the temptation to poke animals or hidden areas the place there could be sea creatures.

Clear Container

A transparent container helps youngsters see small animals like hermit crabs should you occur to catch one. The naturalists at Birch Aquarium place water in a container and drop small animals into it for fast viewing earlier than gently releasing them again into the identical pool they had been present in.

In gentle of elevated visitors to our tide swimming pools, please reduce or resist selecting up marine life.

Plastic Bag

You may even see little items of micro trash or trash as you comb by the rocky intertidal zone and benefit from the seaside. If you might have a small bag with you, it’s good tide pooling or seaside etiquette to choose it up.

We personally take part in seaside clean-ups, and also you’d be stunned by what washes up on shore that threatens the animals in our tide swimming pools and may even be hazardous to beachgoers.

See additionally: Best Things to Do in San Diego with Kids

Enjoy our tide swimming pools all through the season and, as Danny says, “Pass along the word of what’s the best way to interact with this habitat.”

Be positive to take a look at Birch Aquarium’s tide pooling excursions and different outside adventures. You may also learn my different record of finest tide swimming pools in San Diego, which incorporates different well-liked spots like Cabrillo National Monument, Swamis in Encinitas, and Tourmaline Beach in Pacific Beach.

Frequently Asked Questions About La Jolla Tide Pools in San Diego

Visiting tide swimming pools in San Diego is a scorching matter recently to hit my inbox, as extra folks choose outside actions. Here are just a few suggestions and a few solutions to FAQs.

Can I see La Jolla tide swimming pools in the summertime?

It takes a bit little bit of effort and luck to see La Jolla tide swimming pools in the summertime when the tide is low principally at night time. You can test the tide charts and go through the lowest potential time. You may see an occasional hermit crab, mussels, barnacles, or a sea anemone or two, however it wouldn’t almost be in the kind of quantity we’re used to within the winter.

You might begin on the La Jolla Cove tide swimming pools and wander all the way down to South Casa Beach to take a peek in these rocky zones. Even should you see nothing, it’s an exquisite stroll. You’ll probably see our seals and sea lions alongside the best way, one other must-see for marine life fanatics and households.

There are nonetheless minus tides, however they’re occurring at night time. Occasionally, they occur within the early morning hours earlier than dawn, so it’s potential, should you’re an early fowl, that you could possibly catch some tide swimming pools in view on the break of day.

Or, higher but, head to Birch Aquarium to see their human-made tide swimming pools.

Are canines allowed at La Jolla tide swimming pools?

Dogs will not be allowed on San Diego seashores, boardwalks, and adjoining parks from November 1 – March 31 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. They at the moment are allowed on San Diego seashores between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. from April 1 to October 31.

La Jolla is part of the City of San Diego, so we adhere to those identical legal guidelines. So, what this implies is you can carry your canine to La Jolla seashores exterior of those banned hours.

However, it’s finest apply to maintain your canine away from any tide pool areas, as canines and marine life usually don’t combine properly.

Are the La Jolla tide swimming pools open?

The seaside right here is at all times open, so our tide swimming pools are at all times open. We have three everlasting lifeguard stations in La Jolla at La Jolla Cove, La Jolla Shores Beach, and Children’s Pool Beach. Lifeguard hours are often from 9 a.m. to nightfall.

What time is low tide at La Jolla tide swimming pools?

Check a web-based tide calendar to see when the very best time to go tide pooling is. Even in case your San Diego trip is deliberate months forward, these calendars will precisely inform you what the tides will probably be like.

If a tide hovers round zero or reveals a minus, that’s your cue to go to the seaside. If you see a adverse one or decrease tide throughout daylight, you really want to go. It’s only a lovely sight, even in case you have no intention of trying to find creatures.

Can I Take Shells from Tide Pools in La Jolla?

It relies upon. If you go to tide swimming pools within the Ecological Reserve, like at La Jolla Cove, you could not take away something apart from trash from the seashores. This consists of shells, rocks, and even sticks or seaweed.

These gadgets function properties or safety for wildlife in these tide swimming pools or play an vital function within the space’s ecosystem. Even with the entire pockets and small crevices in these tidal zones, animals nonetheless battle to search out locations to settle. The extra we take, the less habitats they’ve. So, even at seashores the place you may legally take shells, like Shell Beach, you could wish to think about leaving them.

Do Periwinkles Live in La Jolla Tide Pools?

Yes! Periwinkles are small welks or sea snails that dwell within the supratidal zone, obtain splashes from waves, and are not often submerged. This means you can really see them extra typically than different animals. Their little turban shells typically function properties for hermit crabs.

Can You Give Me Directions to the Best La Jolla Tide Pools?

It’s a bit arduous to information you to precisely the place the tide swimming pools are on the seaside. I might set your GPS for La Jolla Cove and park alongside Coast Blvd. If it’s low tide, you cannot miss the tide swimming pools (you’ll see numerous inexperienced sea grass) between the Cove and south of the Children’s Pool.

You may also set your GPS for La Jolla Shores Beach to view the tide swimming pools south of The Marine Room restaurant or Dike Rock. Set your GPS for Caroline’s Seaside Cafe to get nearer to Dike Rock and use road parking. Take the stairway all the way down to the sandy seaside and stroll north.

Which La Jolla tide swimming pools are your favorites? What have you ever seen?


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