King Tide in Santa Cruz (Why it’s the Best Time to Explore Tide Pools!)
Happy New Year, Friends! This is my first post of 2022 and I’m so excited for this year! I spent New Years Eve cozy at home with my husband and then on New Years Day I woke up early and hopped in the car with my friend for a quick weekend getaway to explore the tide pools during the King Tide in Santa Cruz. The weather was perfect with a crisp temperature of 55 degrees and beautiful clear blue skies. After weeks of rain here in California it was so nice to see and feel the sunshine. Winter can be a great time to visit California coastal cities!
Even though Santa Cruz is one of my favorite weekend getaways in California there is a very specific reason I chose New Years Day weekend to visit Santa Cruz. There was a King Tide happening Jan 1st – 3rd and I knew this would be a perfect opportunity to go to the beaches and check out the tide pools. Read ahead and let me explain more in this post.
What is a King Tide?
A King Tide is when the alignment of the Sun, Moon and Earth cause the greatest tidal affects of unusually high tides paired with unusually low tides. High tides bring the sea level up approximately 1-2 feet higher than average high tide and can even cause flooding in certain areas. During low tide areas that are normally not accessible can be explored. These astronomical tides are predictable and occur amongst coastlines world wide. California experiences them about twice a year in December and January. The most recent King Tides just happened December 4th & 5th 2021 and January 1st – 3rds 2022.
To learn even more about King Tides and their impact and insight to what future tides may be like check out the King Tides Project where they are documenting and studying the high King Tides.
Why Visit During King Tide in Santa Cruz
During low tide, areas that are normally not accessible can be accessed and explored. The low tide makes for a perfect time to take a walk on the beach as sand bars that you can’t normally walk can become walkable. And it is also an amazing time to go explore the tide pools. The low tides can reveal many sea critters that normally aren’t seen often such as sea anemones, sea stars, urchins, crabs and more!
I have always been fascinated by ocean life so this was such a treat for me! There were many many sea anemones and a few star fish which is more than I have ever seen in the wild before! I absolutely plan to visit again during the next King Tide in Santa Cruz and I can’t wait to see what else I find!
Where to Find Tide Pools During King Tide in Santa Cruz
Some of the best beaches to view the Santa Cruz tide pools are Natural Bridges State Beach, Pleasure Point, Wilder Ranch State Park to name a few.
Happy tide pooling!
Other Things to do in Santa Cruz
While you are visiting the Santa Cruz tide pools for the weekend, I can give you a few recommendations of things to do after cruising the beaches. (Stay tuned for future guides to visiting Santa Cruz as well!)
- The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
- Natural Bridges Monarch Buttery Trail
- Take a walk along West Cliff Drive
- Visit Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
- Watch the surfers a Pleasure Point
- Stroll around Downtown Santa Cruz
- Visit Capitola Village (Just 15 minutes from Santa Cruz)