November through March is optimal tide pooling season in San Diego. We were there in April and still saw plenty. If you go, remember that the pools are delicate ecosystems that are home to many creatures. Tread lightly and don’t touch or remove anyone from their home!
The most important thing to take into consideration when you go is the tide. Check the tide charts. You will want to visit any tide pool during low tide in order to view them safely. We opted for a morning when low tide was really close to sunrise, which usually results in lower crowds. It seems like the crowds really never start to arrive at SoCal beaches until between 10am and noon since that is usually when the morning clouds burn away and the sun comes out.
The good thing about arriving early is that it makes it easier to find parking. We parked on the street on Coast Blvd. right across from the tide pools. Parking here made for an easy walk half a mile north to see the seals at the Children’s Pool.
At the tide pools, we saw limpets, barnacles, anemones, crabs, hermit crabs, chitons, and mussels. If you stare at each pool long enough, something will start to move. At first glance, it may seem dull, but upon close observation, there are beautiful natural pink, purple, green, and blue hues brought to you by the flora and fauna that strive to survive here.
The rocks themselves have been shaped by the water and the burrowing sea life over millions of years. You can see fossils from coral that used to live here.
Basically, if you like the ocean even a little bit, you’ll like it! Neither of us had ever experienced anything like this! And to think, it has been just two hours away from us this whole time!
After exploring the pools, we walked half a mile north to see the seals. A great unexpected surprise came when we walked past the Children’s Pool and saw it was pupping season! We learned this happens yearly between Dec. 15th and May 15th when seal moms birth, nurse, then ween their young. Since it was late in the season when we visited (April 16th) apparently most of the young had been weened, because we didn’t see any babies. But, the adults were cute enough to watch!
There are restroom facilities at the Children’s Pool.
You could spend a whole day exploring this area of San Diego. Further to the north is La Jolla Cove which is popular for swimming and scuba diving. If you are an adventurer, you can visit La Jolla Underwater Park and kayak through sea caves. Personally, we aren’t strong enough water sportspeople to be confident enough to go in ocean caves. Most of the beaches in La Jolla are rocky, with only a little bit of sand that can completely disappear during high tide. So, if you want to spend the afternoon relaxing on the beach, you can drive to Mission Beach like we did, or check out Coronado Island.
Watch our YouTube video of the day here: