Tidepool FAQ'S



When is a good time to visit the tidepools?

Tidepools are only visible at low tide. When the water recedes at low tide rocks are revealed with pools of ocean water trapped along the shoreline. Peek inside and you will find a thriving habitat filled with many living organisms.

When is low tide?

Due to the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun on the earth there are two high tides and two low tides in California every day. Consult a local tide chart to make sure there is an appropriate low tide time on the day you are planning your visit. You can access our local tide chart online HERE. Tide charts are also available at bait shops and some surf/aquatic sports shops or in the newspaper.

What is considered an appropriate low tide time for visiting the tidepools?

The best low tides are negative low tides. During the spring the negative low tides are usually in the early morning whereas in the late fall and winter the negative low tides are in the afternoon. We recommend visiting the tidepools on a day with a low tide of 1.5 ft. or less. We also suggest that you arrive about an hour before low tide so that you have ample time to explore while the tide is still receding.

What should I wear when I visit the tidepools?

Shoes with grip such as tennis shoes or Tevas are ideal when visiting the tidepools. The rocks are VERY SLIPPERY and it is easy to slip and fall. Refrain from wearing sandals or flip flops on your visit. Barnacles and mussels are sharp and may cause injury to bare feet. We recommend dressing in layers as weather conditions may change throughout the day. Sunscreen and hats are also recommended as well as water.

Where are the tidepools in Crystal Cove Cove State Park??

There are four tidepool viewing areas in Crystal Cove State Park: Reef Point, Rocky Bight, Pelican Point, and Treasure Cove.

Reef Point – Enter at the Reef Point entrance. After paying the $15 day-use fee at the entrance kiosk, turn left and park near the first restroom building on the right. There is a staircase behind the restroom building that will lead you down to the Reef Point tidepools.

Rocky Bight – Enter and park at the Los Trancos entrance. At the southern end of the parking lot there are two trails near the restroom buliding and both trails lead down to the Historic District. Once you reach the beach in the Historic District the Rocky Bight tidepools are located at the south end of the beach. You will pay the $15 day-use fee upon leaving the Los Trancos parking lot.

Pelican Point – Enter at the Pelican Point entrance. After paying the $15 day-use fee at the entrance kiosk, turn right and park in Pelican Parking Lot #2 (P-2). There is a boardwalk connected to the paved multi-use trail alongside the parking lot. Follow the boardwalk out onto the bluff and it will guide you to a trail down to the Pelican Point tidepools.

Treasure Cove — Enter at the Pelican Point entrance. After paying the $15 day-use fee at the entrance kiosk, turn right and drive to the last lot. The Treasure Cove tidepools are located at the northern most edge of the beach and require a ½ mile walk along the bluff trail and another ¼ mile along the beach.

Am I allowed to pick up animals in the tidepools? Can I put animals in a bucket?

The tidepools at Crystal Cove State Park are designated as Marine Protected Areas and are protected by law. Picking up animals and/or moving them from their pools is prohibited. Tidepools are homes for these animals and it is disorienting for them when they are removed from their habitat. Placing animals in buckets, even if for a short time may cause irreparable damage or stress for these organisms. In order to ensure the protection of this fragile ecosystem please adhere to the following rules:

Never collect shells, rocks or organisms from the tidepools.

Never remove animals from their pools. Observe them where they are.

Never pull animals that are attached to the rocks.

Never turn over rocks as this may disturb wildlife.

Walk gently, taking care not to step on plants or animals.


What can I expect to see on my visit to the tidepools?

Tidepool conditions vary on a daily basis so there is no telling exactly what organisms you will see on any given day while visiting the tidepools and that’s what makes a visit to the tidepools so exciting! There are many organisms to discover throughout the pools, each equipped with fascinating adaptations for surviving in an ever-changing environment. Visit our Tidepool Gallery to take a look at some of the exciting creatures you may find on your visit to the tidepools at Crystal Cove State Park.