Best Tidepool Spots

FUN WITH ALGAE: Do you dig digging around  tidepools? There are a number of spots that are perfect for those wanting to get up close and personal with what's lurking in the rocks along California's coast. Some of the best spots are within minutes of downtown San Diego.

WHEN NEGATIVE IS A POSITIVE: Is there anything worse than planning on tidepooling and finding the tide is in? Plan ahead and make sure there's a negative low tide. That's just one of the tips from the pros at Cabrillo National Monument. Winter is best. Other tips - good shoes with gripping soles.

BEST SPOTS: Check out the small tide pool area at the end of Newport Avenue in Ocean Beach for some hermit crabs and shore crabs. Starfish have been spotted at Dike Rock just north of Scripps Pier in La Jolla. Oyster fossils and sea hares can be expected at Swami's along Pacific Coast Highway. You may spot an octopus at Tourmaline Surfing Park if you're lucky.

FIND A GUIDE: In San Diego, Birch Aquarium offers trained naturalists to explain those animals surviving between a rock and a hard place. Their on-site lectures begin in October and require and RSVP. $10-$12.

TRAVELING TIDEPOOLERS: If you're planning a road trip along the coast, check out some other sites that are perfect for an afternoon of exploring. At Point Dume State Preserve, in Malibu, you're just a staircase away from an isolated beach that offers a great spot for tidepooling. Crystal Cove offers an underwater park with tidepools and sandy coves between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach.

PUT IT BACK: Wherever you decide to explore, be sure to follow Tidepool Etiquette 101 - put things back as you found them. Avoid "taking this one home" so that others can enjoy it too!

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