Explore Tide Pools at Dana Point

Orange County Ocean Institute

Added by Julie Cash

  • Gorgeous Ocean Views
  • Explore Tide Pools
  • Learn about Sealife
  • Gorgeous Sunset

If you're ever driving on the 5 between San Diego and Los Angeles and traffic is miserable (always), consider making a stop at Dana Point to check out the tide pools. The best place is behind the Ocean Institute which offers plenty of free parking and a short walk behind the building will quickly get you to the tide pools.

Be sure to check the tide levels and try to go at low tide or no tide to see more sea critters. On the weekends there are docents at low tide and the Ocean Institute offers some guided tours. The best pools are found after walking over the rocks for quite a while, which isn't that far but the rocks can slow you down. Stay to the right by the cliff wall and there is a makeshift path that will ease the difficulty.

Once you find a spot to head closer to the tide pools be very careful not only that you don't slip, as the rocks can be slippery, but be sure you don't step on any animals or plants! You are likely to see lots of crabs, anemones, sea stars and if you're lucky you could see an octopus or a sea lion!

Keep an eye out for the tide so you don't get trapped and have to get wet heading back. Hopefully by this time the traffic has cleared and you can head back on your way.

Pack List

  • Camera
  • Sunscreen
  • Towel
  • Shoes with tread
  • Windbreaker
Read More



Chillin, Photography

Skill Level:



Year Round



Easy Parking
Family Friendly

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

9 months ago

Dana Point tidepools are an example of the sea's beauty!

Dana Point is one of our favorite more secluded places, especially during the winter. The tidepools are brimming with colorful sealife. Make sure that you do not get too close to them or collect anything, and be respectful of the ecosystem.

9 months ago

Added by Julie Cash

More Adventures Nearby

Climb at Intersection Rock in Joshua Tree

Orange County / Intersection Rock Parking Lot

Intersection Rock is located in the Hidden Valley Campground with lots of parking! Overhang bypass route5.

Rayne Grein
1 Saves

Hike Willow Canyon, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

Orange County / Willow Staging Area

This hike has been a must do since I was young.

Doug Hall
6 Saves

Hike to Aztec Falls

Orange County / Splinters Cabin Day Use Area

From Lake Arrowhead, take the 173 to Hook Creek Road until you dead end onto Squint Ranch Road. Take a right at the first fork in the road, and park in the lot for Splinters Cabin.

Tori Marsh
89 Saves