Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Cabrillo Tide Pools in San Diego, California

Cabrillo Tide Pools in San DiegoKristen McLane writes at KristenMcLane.com and she and her husband have recently started a website, Beyond the Zoo, where they highlight great off-the-beaten-path activities in the San Diego area. She guest posts today to give us a taste of the west coast.


San Diego is home to many world-famous attractions. The San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park, Sea World, and LEGOLAND California are all legitimate family-fun destinations. But by far, my favorite San Diego moments have been spent exploring San Diego’s natural resources.

Cabrillo Tide Pools in San DiegoWith over 70 miles of Pacific coastline and temperatures averaging near 70 degrees year-round, it’s no surprise that my family of four spends the majority of our recreational time outdoors. Having recently moved to San Diego from the Midwest, we don’t take San Diego’s natural wonders for granted, especially in the winter.

Tide Pool Adventures
Tide pool adventures are a fun activity for the youngest family member to the oldest. (And dare I say, educational too.) A tide pool is the pool of water collected among rocks after a tide has retreated. What makes tide pools so fascinating is that they are home to many different kinds of plants and animals. Where else can you get an up close view of sea creatures including sea stars, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, octopi, barnacles, mussels, snails, crabs, limpets and sea anemones?

My family enjoys the tide pools at Cabrillo National Monument. Costing just five dollars per car, the entrance fee is a great value. The most important piece of advice to remember is to plan your trip during low tide. Otherwise, the tide pools will be submerged! Consult a current tide calendar when planning your visit.

Cabrillo Tide Pools at San DiegoThe only way to access the tide pools at Cabrillo is to climb down the rocky path north of the parking lot to the shoreline. It’s not strenuous, but it does require sure footing. Keep in mind that because of the rocky nature of tide pools, they may not be appropriate for people with limited mobility. Dress appropriately by wearing comfortable and sturdy shoes. You might even want to pack an extra set of clothes for the kids. My family is unable to resist getting wet! Better yet, dress the kids in bathing suits.

Visiting the tide pools is a real life I-Spy adventure. The more time you spend, the more your eyes adjust to discover the treasures within. A park ranger is stationed at the Cabrillo tide pools to answer any questions you may have. The most obvious (and numerous) creatures are barnacles, mussels, snails and crabs. While not exactly “exotic,” my children have literally spent hours playing with snails and crabs. Sea anemones are also plentiful. It is easy to forget that these squishy looking creatures are alive, until you catch one feasting on a crab!

On a recent visit, my careful observation was rewarded when I caught a peek of an octopus poking out from under a rock. I left that day with a tangible reminder of why it is important to protect and care for our environment. There is no shortage of things to do and see while visiting San Diego. The tide pools at Cabrillo are merely a gateway to all there is to explore beyond the zoo!


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Technorati tags: travel, activities, children, San Diego, California


Sunny Daydreame said...

This is so timely as the hubs and I are taking a vacation to Oceanside soon! Scribbit does it again.

Sarah Jewel said...

It's amazing that I live probably an hour from there but I've never been. I will have to take my son soon!

TJ said...

we were just at the tide pools at la jolla this past weekend. and there were a ton of seals on the beach!!! it was pretty cool, and my kids didn't want to leave. we're going to have to go to my favorite tide pools in LA county soon.

Maddy said...

We loved our visits to San Diego when the children were babies. These days they're not so portable so we make do with tidepooling near SF. Great fun for all the family. Should probably have another go some time soon.

jacjewelry said...

This looks so beautiful! My friend moved out to San Diego a while back, and I've been meaning to visit her... now I have yet another reason!

Stephanie said...

I love Kristen McLane! She leaves great comments on blogs and I enjoy popping in over at her blog from time-to-time as well.

The Beyond the Zoo site is a great concept. If I lived in or around San Diego, I'd definitely make use of their reviews.

Alison Kerr said...

Kristen, like you I love the ocean. I'll try not to dream too much of it - being so far away in Kansas can get depressing if I do :-(

Who'd expect someone living in Kansas to write about marine biology for kids, but the ocean is still in my heart from the days when I lived much closer to it, so I have written about it and intend to again.

Tide pools and snorkeling are two of my favorite things :-)

Mandy said...

This is great! We are going to San Diego in a couple of weeks so this is a great tip! Thank you!