Exploring tide pools is a family-friendly and budget-friendly way to explore Monterey. Kids and adults alike will be thrilled by the marine life teeming in Central California's dramatic coast.
Tide pools are best visited at low tide, but the waiting is part of the fun. The anticipation makes the exploration all the more special. Each tide pool presents a unique blend of sea critters and plant life; no two visits will be the same. Explorers might find starfish, anemones, crabs, mollusks, tiny fish, sea urchins, and sand dollars.
As you wait for the tide to go out, take a walk on Monterey's gorgeous beaches. While you're not looking for tiny crabs, you might see some of California's more significant marine life. Seals, sea lions, and otters are often seen lounging on the rocks or swimming near the shore. Further off-shore, visitors are often treated to sightings of humpback whales, gray whales, and frolicking dolphins.
Monterey Tide Pool Guide
The Great Tide Pool
The Great Tide Pool is also known as Point Pinos. This spectacular tide pool is even viewable during high tide. Famed marine scientist Ed Rickett spent considerable time here studying the diverse wildlife in this tide pool. The Great Tide Pool is known as one of the richest and most diverse habitats in the world. Visitors will see starfish, various critters, and colorful underwater plant life. A boardwalk takes visitors over the dunes to the tide pool overlook.
At high tide, McAbee Beach shrinks to a sliver. At lower tides, the beach expands, and tide pools become more evident. Look for mollusks, fish, starfish, and crustaceans. McAbee Beach is named after John McAbee, who bought the land in the early 1900s and wanted to develop the beach area into a tourism hot-spot.
As a special treat, you might see sea lions enjoying the sunshine on the rocks. McAbee Beach is also known as an excellent spot to search for sea glass.
Lovers Point Park & Beach
Lovers Point Beach features a beautiful area for tide pool exploration. The uneven rocks near the shoreline are a haven for critters. You might find mussels, kelp, and small crabs.
After you've checked out the tide pools, discover the rest of Lover's Point Beach. This is a famous beach for surfing, sunbathing, and playing volleyball. There's a kid's swimming pool, a restaurant, and a snack bar. Try your hand at fishing and see what other creatures hide in the water.
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
Point Lobos State Reserve is known as the crown jewel of California's park system. The dramatic landscape is perfect for surprising underwater finds. Weston Beach has protected pools and is a visitor favorite. Weston Beach is about halfway between the Sea Lion Point parking lot and Bird Island.
In addition to its rock pools, visitors will find rare plants as they explore the park. You'll probably also see seals, sea otters, and sea lions.
Asilomar State Beach
Asilomar State Beach is a one-mile strip of sandy beach that features rocky coves, perfect for low-tide exploration. The tide pools at Asilomar State Beach are full of marine life. You'll find sea urchins, sand dollars, and anemones.
You are also likely to see Pacific harbor seals and sea otters. You might even see Humpback or Gray whales and dolphins out at sea.
Enjoy the Best Tide Pools Near Monterey
Central California is a wonderful location for reconnecting with nature and discovering the smallest finds that bring the largest smiles. Exploring tide pools, enjoying the fresh air, and walking the beach are some of our favorite ways to spend time together as a family. Check out our blog for more family-friendly activities in Monterey.