What I did that weekend: Tidepooling at Leo Carillo State Beach


Lifeguard Station, Leo Carillo State Beach

There are honestly months that pass before I cross over east of Fairfax and west of Lincoln. There are months that pass before I realize I haven’t dangled my toes in the freezing cold Pacific. Months between visiting places I love and years before I don a swimsuit. Although I am guilty of it, I hope this blog convinces me and you to leave our comfy little neighborhood pockets.

In the case of Leo Carillo State Beach I hadn’t been there since before I lived here. I was last there on a labor day long weekend in 2004. Ten years ago I had no idea what tide pooling was and while I was trying to tan my pale pale self on the beach I wondered why all of these kids were running around carrying Sea Stars.

I feel like I now belong to a cult. I slowly convince more and more people to join me on tide pooling adventures. My brainwashed glaze as I tell people how amazing and stress reducing I think it is. There is something about concentrating on something so small, like skittering hermit crabs, when the world seems so big and stress inducing.

On January 19th the moon aligned to provide a very long low tide of almost two hours. Here is some of what we saw.


Fiddler Crab, blowing air bubbles


Low tide exposes caves and arches to climb on



There is actually a lot going on in this photo. The loopy lines in the sand are trails from sea snails. There are several anemone and chiton, which are one of the most prehistoric animals still around today.


Sadly Sea Stars are dying off at an alarming rate. They are catching a disease that softens their exoskeleton. Please do not touch these, even though you want to.

Note: Part of Leo Carillo State Beach is a dog beach. Other Malibu beaches can cost you a $250 ticket so read carefully. Remember though that Fido must be on a leash to protect the wildlife habitat. (I am pretty sure you can get a no leash ticket.)

The next low tide on a weekend will be a few months from now. I’ll of course keep you posted.


Parking in the lot is $12. Parking on the side of the Pacific Coast Highway/PCH/1 is free, but as always with L.A. parking read the signs very carefully.

[Getting There: Sadly the 534 only goes up to Point Dume State Beach, but Point Dume and neighboring Lechuza Beach has some really great tide pooling.]

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