10 Best Must Visit Orange County (OC) Tide Pools

father and son look at tide pools in Orange County

Orange County boasts over 40 miles worth of coastline. This long stretch of coastline provides visitors a chance to observe all the fascinating tide pools. Our favorite tidepools are located between Dana Point and Corona Del Mar, but there are some things to remember before you go. First of all, plan your beach visit beforehand as tidepools are only visible during low tides. Additionally, keep yourself and the creatures safe by watching your step on the slippery rocks.

Continue Reading for our list of the 10 Best Tidepools in Orange County


shooting looking down to the water and beach at crystal cove

1. Crystal Cove State Beach

The first beach on this list is the beautiful Southen California paradise of Crystal Cove. There are four popular spots for tide pooling including Pelican Point, Reef Point, Rocky Bright, and towards Treasure Cove. As a State Beach, parking is pricey at $15 for the day, but you can also use the park for hiking, snorkeling, camping, scuba diving, and more. We also love that the beach is located just off the PCH south of Corona Del Mar and on the border of Laguna.  Visiting during low tide almost guarantees an amazing viewing experience and there are also tide pool walks for families with interactive docents. 

Address: 8471 N Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651


corona del mar state beach at sunset


2. Corona Del Mar State Beach (Little Corona)

Little Corona Beach in the CDM neighborhood of Newport is a rocky cove famous among snorkelers, scuba divers, and tide poolers. Corona Del Mar Beach is located in a rocky cove, which adds to the beauty of the quaint spot. There is a nice paved path that winds down the hill to the beach, but going back up may prove a challenge for little ones. Lastly, there’s parking throughout the neighborhood, but it fills up fast, which means you’ll have to make the long walk from the Big Corona Parking Lot. 

Address: 3001 Ocean Blvd, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625


Shaw's Cove in Laguna Beach at Sunset


3. Shaw’s Cove (Laguna Beach)

Shaw’s Cove is a fairly small beach in Laguna that’s hidden below oceanfront homes in Laguna Beach, CA. Tide poolers can access the area from the public entrance at the intersection of Fairview Street and Cliff Drive. At low tide, Shaw’s Cove display at the two opposite ends of the beach. Furthermore, the tidepools are located within a State Marine Conservation Area, so don’t remove any creatures from their habitats. 

Address: 1009 Cliff Dr, Laguna Beach, CA 92651


Heisler Park Ecological Reserve during the day


4. Heisler Park Ecological Reserve

Heisler Park is another cant-miss tide pool destination, but like most beaches in Southern California, it can get extremely crowded during peak season. Along with the marine refuge and tidepools, the park also features walking trails, barbecues, picnic tables, gardens, barbecues, and lawn bowling greens. With a wedding gazebo, you can even get married among the tidepools!

Address: 375 Cliff Dr, Laguna Beach, CA 92651


Dana Point Marine protected area from above


5. Dana Point Marine Protected Area

For a world-class tide pool experience, look no further than the Dana Point Marine Protected located directly behind the Ocean Institute in Dana Point. Parking is easy and visitors can take the staircase down to the beach for quick access. If you’re lucky, you can even get a tour from a friendly and knowledgeable docent. 

Address: 24200 Dana Point Harbor Dr, Dana Point, CA 92629



6. Treasure Island Beach

Just South of The Montage in Laguna is Treasure Island Beach and it provides tide poolers with a clean, safe, and better for swimming than nearby Aliso Beach Park. Paid parking is available off of Wesley Street and there’s metered parking throughout Laguna. Even without the tidepools, Treasure Island Beach offers world-class views right in our backyard. 

Address: Wesley Dr, Laguna Beach, CA 92651



7. Goff Cove Beach (Goff Island)

Goff Cove is a south-facing beach protected from the elements by a tall pyramid-shaped rock formation called Goff Island. Fortunately, it’s not technically an island and is easily accessible to visitors. There are big tide pools flowing around the base and the water spots support all types of marine life. 

Address: 30801 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651



8. Salt Creek (Dana Point)

Salt Creek is an angelically beautiful beach in Dana Point located just below the Ritz Carlton of Laguna Niguel. After adventuring through the tide pools, hang out on the beach park featuring a large grass area along with picnic tables, a snack shack, basketball court, and walking path. Keep in mind, the walk down to the beach is fairly long, so be prepared!

Address33333 Pacific Coast Hwy, Dana Point, CA 92629



9. Crescent Bay Beach

Crescent Bay in North Laguna is a popular whale watching and scuba diving spot with the two popular spots being Seal Rock and Dead Man’s Reef. While Seal Rock and Dead Man’s are located offshore, there are plenty of tidepools to see during low tide in the cove. 

Address: Crescent Bay, Laguna Beach, California 92651



10. Rockpile Beach (Laguna Beach)

Rockpile is a hidden gem within Laguna with most visitors heading toward Main Beach or picnic beach. Unfortunately, swimming is not allowed at the cove, but that won’t matter once you’re immersed in the diverse tide pools. 

Address: 400 Cliff Dr Laguna Beach, CA 92651


Take advantage of all the amazing tidepools Orange County and its surrounding areas present? The Hotel Atrium is conveniently located directly across the street from John Wayne Airport and close to every major attraction in the OC. If you’re looking for even more things to do around Orange County during your stay, check out our attractions page. Book your Orange County stay with Hotel Atrium today!




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irvine, ca 92612

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