On an overcast Saturday morning, we headed out to go spelunking at Abalone Cove Shoreline Park in Rancho Palos Verdes. We wanted to explore the tide pools and go for a kid-friendly hike. After a sleepy drive down Pacific Coast Highway, we turned into the park. Start by taking the Abalone Cove Trail at the far left corner of the picnic area and take a moment to enjoy the spectacular view (even on a cloudy day) of Catalina Island. My kids took off running down the trail to get to the beach. The second half of the trail was a little steep – I’d recommend sneakers for everyone.
We spent the first part of our hike walking over the rocky beach. Younger kids might need a little help not to slip. I loved that mine thought of this as an adventure and were so excited to see the tide pools, find crabs, sea urchins and spot the anemones.
Once we explored the beach area, we headed over to the tide pools. We hit the tide pools at low tide. Make sure you check the tides before you go! We were on the hunt for sea stars, but didn’t find any, although the tide pools are full of bright purple sea urchins and anemones. The biggest hit was the hundreds of little crabs by the rocks. On our next trip, I’ll make sure to bring a clear plastic box to let the kids put some of the sea “treasures” for a short period of time while observing at them.
There were a number of families in the tide pool area, but it didn’t feel too crowded. Water shoes are recommended once you get to tide pool rock layers and if you want to walk in the water. When it was time to start our trek back, I mistakenly took the Sea Dahlia trail up from the tide pools which was a little too narrow and close to the edge for kids. Next time, I’ll walk back across the beach and take the Abalone Cove Trail. The view of the tide pools from the top of the trail is breathtaking and worth the extra work.
You also have views of the Wayfarers Chapel (5755 Palos Verdes Drive South) designed by architect Lloyd Wright, son of the pioneering American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright conceived the design of Wayfarers Chapel as a “tree chapel”, a natural sanctuary set in the midst of a forest. On a day when we were less messy and dirty and one of us hadn’t slipped in a tide pool, I’d like to take a tour of the chapel. It’s just past the entrance to the park.
While there is the option to bring a picnic and use the tables up at the entrance or have one down by the beach, we left the park and went to the Golden Cove Shopping Center (31218 Palos Verdes Dr W, Rancho Palos Verdes). We ate at Tomatillo and enjoyed tacos, quesadillas and guacamole. If you are looking for picnic supplies, stop by Trader Joe’s or Subway in the center before you head out.
We will be back again to do more exploring and hopefully spot more marine life. In warmer weather, it would be a great place to stay at also go to the beach.
More about Abalone Cove from the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservatory:
The Abalone Cove Ecological Reserve features two beaches (Abalone Cove and Sacred Cove), tide pools, beautiful bluff-top viewing areas, and dramatic crisscrossing trails. The 64-acre Reserve contains a State Ecological Preserve with important natural marine resources and the bottom of the Portuguese Bend landslide area. Two promontories, Portuguese and Inspiration points, frame Sacred Cove with its sea caves, black sand, and rare plants.
Location: 5970 Palos Verdes Drive South, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275
Parking: $5 per car
Park hours: Check holiday hours! Monday – Friday 12 Noon – 4 PM; Saturday – Sunday 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Written by: Heather Koopman