Best Places for Tide Pooling

Experience some of nature's little wonders and sea life critters in one of the many tide pools along Monterey County's shoreline. The easy access invites kids and adults alike to closely explore the local wildlife including crabs, abalone, mussels, sea anemones, star fish and if you are fortunate enough you might even spot an elusive octopus.

Tide pooling is best done when the tides are low but you can almost always find something fascinating year round. It is important to enjoy the wildlife while not disturbing their natural surroundings and remember to use caution while tide pooling. Some of the rocks can be slippery if still wet so wear sturdy shoes that can grip onto the rocky shores and always keep your eye out for approaching waves. Most importantly, it is vital to protect the environment and remember there is an "absolute no take" policy on all Monterey County tide pools. 

Here is our list for some of the best places for tide pooling. Keep your eyes open for an array of mollusks, fish and crustaceans, and best of all it is free!

Asilomar State Beach

Pacific Grove is a hot spot when it comes to tide pooling. The rocky beaches of Asilomar State Beach offer the perfect habitat for the ocean's smaller creatures including sea anemones, sand dollars and sea urchins. The area along Sunset Drive is a particularly thriving area.

Point Pinos

Don't let the beautiful views of the Pacific Grove Golf Links and Point Pinos Lighthouse distract you from the gems just beneath the ocean's surface. Point Pinos in Pacific Grove, also known as the Great Tide Pool, is one of the most populated tide pool habitats in the world and are even visible during high tides.

Point Lobos State Reserve

Not only is Point Lobos State Reserve one of the greatest meetings of land and sea, it's also a spectacular place for tide pools. Weston Beach, west and a bit south of Point Lobos' main entrance, is exceptionally good for the protected pools. Plus, your chances are excellent for sighting an otter or two!

McAbee Beach

After scoping out the sea otters, sharks and jellies at the Monterey Bay Aquarium head over to McAbee Beach below Steinbeck Plaza on Cannery Row for a more immersive encounter. The well protected beach is also a great place for sea glass scavenging.

Lovers Point Beach

This popular Pacific Grove beach is literally crawling with slimy and creepy critters. The jagged rocks near Lovers Point's shoreline create an ideal spot for small crabs, mussels and lots of kelp!

Pfeiffer Beach

The secluded and stunning Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur is great for a day at the beach and for tide pooling. Not only can you find purple sand at this beach but you are also likely to see star fish and sea anemones in the smaller tide pools. The entrance to the beach can be tricky so be sure to keep your eye for a yellow "Narrow Road" warning on the side of the road. The beach is located at the end of unmarked Sycamore Canyon Road, which is the only paved, un-gated road on the west side of Highway One between the Big Sur Post Office and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.

17-Mile Drive

Among the various golf courses and celebrity mansions along 17-Mile Drive in Pebble Beach lay some of the finest tide pools the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary has to offer. The shallow and rocky shores are full of creatures waiting to be discovered. Keep in mind there is a $9.75 fee into the gates of Pebble Beach.

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