The Best Tide Pools in Malibu to Check Out

by Erica Garza

If you’re in the mood for exploration, Malibu tide pools are sure to astound. Teeming with sea creatures like crabs, octopus, eels and small fish, these stunning pockets give you a front-row seat to ocean life and you don’t even have to change into your swimsuit. But before you drive out to the coast, check out our guide to the best tide pools and what you should know about the Malibu tides, such as the best times to view sea life. 

Also, be aware of restrictions around the tide pools, which are put in place to preserve the natural beauty of Malibu’s beaches. Do not bring dogs to the pools, as they may disturb sea creatures, and watch where you step. While any time of year is an excellent time to catch a glimpse of wildlife, winter months tend to bring Malibu’s low tides, which are ideal for tide pooling. Here is where you may find the best tide pools on the Malibu coastline: 

Leo Carrillo Tide Pools

35000 West Pacific Coast Highway

Malibu, CA 90265

Open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., the Leo Carrillo Tide Pools are rocky and wild, with various rugged caves, cliffs, and tunnels to view sea anemones, hermit crabs and sea stars. There are even two sandy beaches on each side of the tide pools to rest and recharge after you’ve satisfied your curiosities. Keep in mind that the rocks can be quite slippery, but the area is still safe for novice explorers tide-pooling for the first time.

Check out Leo Carrillo State Park tide times for today.

Point Dume Tide Pools

Cliffside Drive & Birdview Avenue

Malibu, CA 90265

You may already be familiar with the large cliff for which Point Dume is renowned, but just to the south of this picturesque point are tide pools full of sea urchins, mussels, crabs and sea stars. Open from sunrise to sunset, Point Dume State Park is home to stunning hiking trails and bluffs. When you spot the metal staircase, you’ll have begun your tide pooling adventure. In addition to watching for sea life, keep your eye out for cliff-roosting birds.

Check out Point Dume State Beach tide times for today.

El Pescador Tide Pools

32860 Pacific Coast Highway

Malibu, CA 90265

One of three small beaches at Robert Meyer Memorial State Beach, El Pescador has the shortest hike for eager tide poolers looking for a more relaxed experience. At the bottom of the bluff, you’ll find a sandy cove surrounded by tide pools and rocks filled with sea snails, barnacles, urchins, sea stars and more. While nearby El Matador Beach also has its fair share of tide pools, El Pescador tends to be less congested, so you may have the pools to yourself. This area is also home to many sea birds like pelicans and sandpipers and is open from 8 a.m. to sunset.  

Check out El Pescador State Beach tide times for today.

El Matador Tide Pools

32350 Pacific Coast Highway

Malibu, CA 90265

A more popular area at Robert Meyer Memorial State Beach, El Matador, is home to shimmering tide pools teeming with giant sea anemones, crabs, sea stars and chiton. There are also rock columns, arches and sea caves begging to be explored from 8 a.m. to sunset. The hike down is a bit longer than the hike at El Pescador and involves a steep dirt trail with no handrails and a set of stairs.  

Check out El Matador State Beach tide times for today.

Fuel for the Pools

Now that you know the insider secrets to Malibu’s tide pools be sure you fuel up for a day of exploring. Stop at Rockwell Kitchen on your way for wholesome food and beverages that combine health-conscious superfoods with your favorite comfort meals. Too excited to grab a bite? Rockwell Kitchen is open Tuesday through Sunday until 6 p.m., so you can refuel after your day of adventure.

Erica Garza is an author and essayist from Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in TIME, Glamour, Health, VICE and Good Housekeeping.