Salutations! The Wild Mile headed South to do some exploring this past Sunday. Our Mission Objective? To find and explore the tide-pools of Cabrillo and it’s hidden Sea Cave.
Directions to the Hidden Sea Cave.
- After entering Cabrillo National Monument, make a quick right at the road directed to Tide Pools.
- Once at the base of the cliff, the trailhead to the Sea Cave begins at the 2nd parking lot of the 3 small parking lots.
- Park at the 2nd parking lot if possible, if not, hike to the trailhead.
- When you’ve hiked down the cliff of the commercial trail, your adventure into the tide pools begins.
- Head North, or make a right heading towards the 3rd parking lot.
- During high-tide, it may seem impassable to get to where you need to be.
- We traversed through the tide-pool right below the 2nd parking lot to get to the cliffs on the opposite side, around 2PM.
- Continue your trek where you’ll turn and find yourself in a cozy cove.
- Follow the shore-line on the right to make your way to the other side of the cove where you will see a small opening which leads into the Sea Cave.
- NOTE: The mouth of the cave is almost 2 feet-high, it’s not recommended for those of bigger builds to attempt this for they might not get through.
- Depending on the tides, you can be fortunate enough to do this without getting wet, or if you’re impatient and daring, you will find yourself soaked!
Things to Note:
Location: 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr, San Diego, CA 92106
Distance: 1½ – 2 hour drive south of Los Angeles.
Time: As long as you please.
- $5 entrance fee to the monument.
- Known for its tide-pools, 2-mile Bayside hike & undisclosed hidden Sea Cave.
- Recommend bringing extra clothes (ie. socks, shorts, shirt) and water shoes for exploration to the sea cave.
- 3 tide-pool parking lots. The 2nd to last is preferred.
- Check approx. low-tide times for best opportunities to sea cave.
- Timing is everything. Don’t get trapped by the high-tide! Plan your trip accordingly for the safest results.
We started our day around 9AM. Food packed and batteries charged, we were ready for the day ahead of us. Our destination rested about 2-hours away from our starting point. After our pit stops for snacks and gas, we were finally on our way around 10AM. Fortunately enough, we got there in no time. The drive alone was constant with no traffic whatsoever.
When we got to Cabrillo National Monument, we paid the $5 entrance fee. Cabrillo National Monument has a broad range of activities and places to visit, such as it’s visitor center, the Lighthouse of Point Loma, it’s whale watching vantages & it’s coastal 2-mile hike. Unfortunately for us, time was of an essence and we only had one task at hand; Experience one of the most endangered ecosystems & find Cabrillo’s hidden sea cave!
Note: Park fees goes towards the conservation and preservation of the park, the tide-pools and it’s ecosystem.
As an adventurist and explorer, I tend to experience and discover things on my own. Using logic and senses, it’s MY way of truly experiencing the great unknown. Aside from my gritty ways, I recommend you, the explorer, do the smart thing & come equipped with as much information as possible; for this adventure can be dangerous! Wrong timing of the tides or having non-substantial gear, can leave you in quite the predicament!
Once you enter the park, you’ll be greeted with a sign ‘Tide Pools,’ pointing down towards, well, the tide pools. We entered the first parking lot. Packed with a ton of tourists, we decided to try the next lot over. Luckily for us, the 2nd lot had our name on it.
Note: The tide-pools consists of 3 small parking lots. It is ideal to park at the 2nd lot which is where the trailhead begins to the sea caves. Although you may park at the other lots, you will have to hike further to the trailhead.
About a quarter-mile down the park’s trail, we met the Pacific Ocean and Cabrillo’s tide-pools. Here our adventure began. With no maps or directions, we traveled up and down the sea cliffs, in and out of the tide-pools in search for a sign or presence of where the caves could be. After excavating the area for an hour & a half to no avail, we figured maybe we were in the wrong section of Cabrillo’s tide-pools.
Just to note, the tide was high between the times of 12PM & 1PM. Pretty much we were stuck between the tides and it’s crashing waves.
With our stomachs growling, we headed up to our vehicle to grub. With sandwiches in hands, we glanced around the area from above trying to decipher the sea caves’ general direction.
LIGHTBULB! Considering the tides, I figured we were at the right place at the wrong time. Shortly after we finished our food, we prepared for a second run down the trailhead. By this time, it was around 2PM and the area alone has been cleared from all it’s lingering tourists. Sure enough, we traversed North (or towards the right of the sea cliffs) where we found the sea cliffs across were accessible. The tide wasn’t as high as it was before at this time. Sticking to the walls of the cliffs, we made our way through the knee high tide-pools, to the other side.
Note: The tide-pools consists of mossy rocks and slippery surfaces. It is advised to wear comfortable shoes with traction or use a walking stick traversing through. I fell & slipped a few times even wearing my hiking boots!
Once on the other side, you will trek up the cliff covered in rocks and washed up seaweed. Turn the corner and you will be greeted with the solidity of an open cove. I knew then we were getting somewhere! It was truly a spectacle discovering an empty cove, with no one but us.
Curiosity carried us across the way, where the shore was nothing but small rocks and bushes of seaweed. You’ll see in the corner a small black opening. This is your entrance…
Words can’t describe the feeling I had spelunking through the crevice and into this sea cave. I only wish you can find the vibe & feel the ambiance of Cabrillo’s majestic sea cave!
Traversing back to our car, the tide was at it’s lowest. That knee-high tide we experienced getting there shrunk down to inches. If we had waited a little longer, we could of gotten across the tides pools with ease, possibly without even getting wet. But hey, getting down and dirty… that’s all part of the adventure.
Note: On the bright side of things, traversing through the tide-pools during it’s knee-high conditions (or the time we did) gave us private access to the sea caves. In other words, not many people would have crossed the tide-pools when we did. This made our discovery more personal and meaningful.
After our successful mission, we headed towards Jim’s Cave in La Jolla Shores. Jim’s Cave is a sea cave hidden inside an antique shop. For $5, you can travel down 145 steps into the depths of Jim’s sea cave.
Just outside the shop is a small cliff park where you can find people snorkeling, groups of people kayaking & resting sea lions so close you could touch! But be careful, sea lions are wild animals and do bite. Respect your surroundings and enjoy the view!
Photos shot with: Canon 70D
About the Author: Jared S.
An avid outdoorsman, always on the go. With a handful of hobbies, he collaborates them all through the wild. Follow me through my wildest miles.
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