Exploring the best Tide Pools in Pismo Beach

 The Beautiful Pacific Ocean

The ocean is my happy place!  We constantly have the discussion of beach or mountains when choosing a place to vacation…. my family is 50/50.  While near the ocean, one of our favorite activities is too see the Tide Pools and the exploring the best Tide Pools in Pismo beach is a lot of fun!

What are Tide Pools?

The oceans’ shores are constantly in motion.  The boundary between land and sea constantly changes with the tide’s rhythmic rise and fall. When the tide retreats, seawater trapped in depressions in the rocks forms tide pools.

These shallow pools and surrounding areas uncovered by the retreating tides are often teeming animals and plants, which must adapt to environmental extremes to survive.

Why Pismo Beach Tide Pools?

The Tide Pools around Pismo Beach are amazing and a must see.  Look no further than Dinosaur Caves Park for the best place for exploring tide pools in Pismo Beach.

The tide pools in this area are located at the base of step high cliffs. Getting to the tide pools can be challenging. The easiest place to find a way to some tide pools is the park at Dinosaur Caves. The tide pools are small but offer visitors a chance to see common types of marine life.

This location is best accessed at low tide. Visitors can expect to see lots of sea anemones, snails, limpets and urchins when conditions are right. The tide pool areas is a flat area with lots of little pools that form in the eroded rocky area at the base of the cliff. There are other locations that have tide pools but these are only accessible to the more adventurous types.

A look into the water

Best Time for exploring the Tide Pools in Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach daily tides chart provides the current high and low tides for the day or for any upcoming day so you can know before you go. Check here for the day you plan on visiting the Tide Pools in Pismo Beach.

Location and Amenities of the Best Tide Pools in Pismo Beach

The best place to park is the parking area at Dinosaur Caves Park. Park in the lot and walk south toward the hotel. You can also park closer to the staircase on the street but the park is worth a stop.

There is a long steep staircase that leads down to the beach area. The parking is free and there are restrooms back at the park.

Enter the bottom of the sea floor to explore the Tide Pools in Pismo Beach

Tide Pools in Pismo Beach. Best place to go. California Adventures. Kelly Luvs Blog
Panoramic View

Once you walk down the steps and reach the beach, the ocean is right in front of you.  You can choose to explore left or right, we choose left. We wanted to see the caves which are normally underwater during higher tides.  You can walk right through tunnels to reach different parts of the shoreline.

You can walk through the caves or climb over too.  It is amazing to see the ocean floor from this perspective!  We loved it and hope you enjoy it too!

Tide Pool Etiquette

Being good visitors…

Tidepool organisms are well adapted to meet great challenges at the sea’s edge—but they can also be very sensitive to the kinds of impact people have.  Communities that may appear everlasting may take many years to recover from a single damaging event.

This remarkable and valuable resource is well worth protecting—and can be safeguarded by keeping a few points in mind:             

Have you ever exploring the amazing world of Tide pools? On a recent trip to California we discovered the best tide pools in Pismo Beach.  Read more at
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Watch your step

Step on bare rock or sand whenever possible—for your safety as well as the safety of the rocky shore inhabitants.  Many tide pools have plenty of viewing opportunities at the sand-rock interface (where standing on rock can be avoided almost entirely). Unless a walking stick is truly required for your safe travel, please leave it behind:  the small tip applies a huge amount of killing force to life on the rocks.

Watch your step.

Slow down, look closely, and watch patiently to observe the sea life in its home.  Quietly watching a pool or gently moving seaweed aside will reveal individuals and behavior that would go unnoticed in a rush.

Watch your step

Touch the animals very gently with only one wet finger to lower the chance of harm. Please do not poke or prod.

“If you pry, it will die.”

Clamping or attaching to the rock is how many tidepool inhabitants survive heavy wave action:  prying them off the rocks will damage them as well as leave them vulnerable to the incoming surf.

“Keep it low and let it go.”

Scuttling crabs might tickle, and they may pinch and will try to walk off your hand.  If you must pick them up, keep your hands low to the ground so they don’t have far to fall in an accident.  Return any picked up inhabitant as soon as possible to its home.

Replace all material you move

The rocks, shells, and seaweeds give protection to the animals below—including the ones you didn’t see:  it is important to return moved items to exactly the way you found them.

Don’t take it home—alive or dead!

It is nearly impossible to find a shell with no other living thing in it or on it.  “Empty” shells are critical habitat for many other organisms, from hermit crabs to limpets to seaweeds, and more.  (In fact, even the minerals in the bits dissolve and enter the water, where they’re taken up later and used to build new shells.)


Your discoveries and delights with others, while modeling and encouraging good tide pool etiquette. Share your favorite photos here and explore those taken by other visitors!

Show your Respect

Best idea: take only pictures and leave the wildlife and plants for others to enjoy.

Best tide Pools in Pismo Beach. Learn more at
My family exploring the Tide Pools

I hope you get to explore the best Tide Pools in Pismo Beach too.  It is worth your time.  What an experience!!

Under the Sea

PS. For more California Adventures Check out posts on Yosemite National Park , Perfect Day in San Francisco or Los Angeles and Kings Canyon-Sequoia National Park