5 Tips for Visiting the Point Loma Tide Pools with Kids

The Point Loma tide pools have been on our San Diego bucket list for a good five or six years, and I am SO happy that we finally made the trip.

Point Loma tide pools | San Diego | California | Cabrillo National Monument

We were worried that the rocks would be too slippery or the tide wouldn't be quite right for viewing, but the fact is with both nature and children you can never arrange perfect timing. Frankly, you just gotta suck it up and hope for the best.

I often have to remind myself that even a bad day spent exploring is better than a day wasted doing nothing!

The Point Loma tide pools are actually located within the Cabrillo National Monument fee area, so my first tip for this adventure is to invest in the National Parks Pass. Otherwise, you'll be paying $10 here and $20 there each time you visit a place like this, and that adds up fast. The annual pass is available at the gate or at REI. You've probably heard Nate and I rave about this numerous times. $80 gets your whole family into over 2,000 federal recreation sites. That and our San Diego Zoo passes are the best adventure investments we make every year.

Point Loma tide pools | San Diego | California | Cabrillo National Monument

Check the tide chart before you come and try to visit when the tide is at or below 0. Two hours before or after that point, you should be able to spot some good sea life. The tide pools close at 4:30pm, and the tides tend to coincide with park hours well during the late fall and winter months (during the summer, low tide unfortunately happens in the middle of the night).

Point Loma tide pools | San Diego | California | Cabrillo National Monument

Parking can be rough here, so try to come early or on a weekday if at all possible. There are three little lots down by the tide pools, so don't freak out if the first one's full. Keep circling through. Don't try to park up by the monument and walk down, it's way too far.

Point Loma tide pools | San Diego | California | Cabrillo National Monument

The walkway down is slick, but there was only one part towards the beginning where I was really worried about the boys taking a huge tumble.

Point Loma tide pools | San Diego | California | Cabrillo National Monument

Once you get to the bottom, there are plenty of rocks to rest on and it's all relatively kid-friendly.

Point Loma tide pools | San Diego | California | Cabrillo National Monument

I do wish that I hadn't sent the boys in better shoes. I knew we'd need something with a lot of grip, but their good tennis shoes and leather boots are pretty trashed from the experience. There is a LOT of water to step in here. If I'd been thinking ahead of time, I would have dressed them in their Oakiwear waders. That would have been perfect for this!

Point Loma tide pools | San Diego | California | Cabrillo National Monument

Bringing along an extra adult would have been helpful. There were a few spots where the two-parent / four-kid ratio was a little challenging. Four-year-old Sidekick still isn't the most nimble dude on the planet, and he found himself stranded a few times since Nate was busy guiding Minion and my hands were full with baby Bam.

Point Loma tide pools | San Diego | California | Cabrillo National Monument

We eventually steered the whole crew up towards the sandy shoreline, where they all got into the groove of searching for little crabs and shells and eagerly pointing at the pelicans. There wasn't a ton of sea life to be seen on this February day (I was hoping for some sea anemones or the leopard sharks this area is known for) but it was a picturesque learning experience nonetheless.

Point Loma tide pools | San Diego | California | Cabrillo National Monument

Next time we're in the area, we're definitely going to make a day of it and check out the Old Point Loma Lighthouse.

Have you ever taken your kids to visit tide pools?

Point Loma tide pools | San Diego | California | Cabrillo National Monument