Travel Blog

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: CALIFORNIA KING TIDES ARE COMING!

California King Tides are coming to Santa Cruz in 2020! The January dates are already behind us, but there’s still a chance to enjoy these impressive tides on February 8 – 9, 2020! These naturally occurring and predictable events are when the highest and lowest tides hit our shores and create an even more dramatic coastline. At high tide, the powerful waves often crash against seawalls and extend beyond their usual natural boarders. The extreme low tides, which have proven particularly popular, expose tide pools rarely seen and allow miles of beach walking and extended exploration.

Take a peek below for more information on timing your visit (yes, timing matters!), where to go and what to look for, tide pooling best practices, plus some photos from past King Tide events in Santa Cruz County! And for those out of the area, some great hotels are offering King Tide weekend discounts and lodging specials to help make those King Tide dreams come true this winter!

TIME YOUR VISIT

As we mentioned, timing matters! The best thing to do is consult a tide chart where you are able to see exact times of the highest and lowest tides. But here’s an Insider Tip: at least an hour before and after the listed low and high tide will yield extreme tides worthy of exploration!

For example, for the February dates, February 8th and 9th have the lowest tides listed at 4:09pm and 4:48pm, but great low tide exploring can be enjoyed at least an hour (if not two hours) before and after that listed low tide time. And another Insider’s Tip: although the most dramatic tides are happening February 8th and 9th, the day before and after the official King Tide dates will still present extreme tides as well!


Photo by @nettisaurus

WHERE TO GO AND WHAT TO LOOK FOR

TIDE POOL AT LOW TIDE
Tide pooling is at its best during King Tides. The exceptionally low tides reveal an underwater world of creatures and habitats well worth the find. From the regular finds like crabs, mussels, anemones, and starfish to the more rare finds of urchins and octopus, the low tides are a fascinating peek into the Monterey Bay. And remember to reference that tide chart and pick one of our suggested beaches on our Tide Pooling Guide. Beaches like Natural BridgesDavenport LandingSanta Maria’sWest Cliffand Pleasure Point are all listed.

Photo by Austen Paul

TAKE A WALK ON THE BEACH – A LONG ONE
During the lowest tides you are able to cover a lot more ground on your beach walk! Many spots that are usually un-walkable become walkable as beach sand is revealed to guide your steps. A few of our favorite long stretches are from Aptos to Capitola, the collection of Live Oak Beaches, and Watsonville beaches to Aptos. And for the little explorers, try the shorter low tide walk from New Brighton State Beach to Capitola Beach.

Photo by Paul Schraub (See first photo for comparison of high tide vs low tide)

WATCH THE HIGH SURF FROM THE COAST
If you’d rather post up on the coast and watch the impressive high tides, places like West CliffPleasure Point, and Davenport will be excellent spots to view the high surf. But be sure to watch from a safe distance since the waves can reach new levels, and when coupled with a typical winter swell of larger waves, can be dangerous if too close.

PROTECT AND PRESERVE THE WILDLIFE AND ECOSYSTEM: BEST TIDE POOLING PRACTICES

Please remember to watch where you step and tread lightly on this delicate and beautiful ecosystem. Please leave creatures alone and only take photos of your King Tide experiences. Help us protect and preserve this beautiful coast so everyone can enjoy for years to come!

SHARE YOUR #SCKINGTIDES ON SOCIAL

We would love to see your Santa Cruz County photos during #SCKingTides! Tag @VisitSantaCruz on social and use the #KingTides and #SCKingTides hashtags. And for those high tides, consider uploading your photos to the California King Tides Project who help people visualize future sea level by observing the highest high tides of today. The shoreline photos during King Tides create a record of the changes to our coast from sea level rise. 

PREVIOUS KING TIDES IN SANTA CRUZ COUNTY

Last year we took our own advice and enjoyed the California King Tides at Pleasure Point. Enjoy the photos and don’t miss 2020’s King Tides!

Last Updated: January 2020

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