Cabrillo National Monument, Point Loma, CaliforniaScenic Wonders, STAFF, USA MAINLAND — By Cathie Nichols on May 8, 2014 at 23:11
By staff writer Cathie Nichols. Photos Copyright © Cathie Nichols.
LIVING IN A tourist destination is not always a good thing. In fact, it sometimes borders on being a major inconvenience.
For example, during the summer, my family and I do not go to the beach. We live about three miles from the white, sandy beaches of the picturesque Pacific Ocean. On the rare occasion we do make a trip to Ponto Beach, one parent (usually me) has to agree to drive everyone, drop off the umbrella/towels/chairs/cooler and sunscreen-slathered family at the side of the 101, and then go back home only to return three or four hours later for family pick-up. Tell me that isn’t inconvenient.
But, the upside is that when the majority of the tourists go home after Labor Day weekend, we can finally enjoy the uncrowded, beautiful beaches up and down the coast, which leads me to San Diego Tourist Tip #1: If you can, plan your San Diego vacation for September or October when it’s still very warm but there’s almost nobody here. The college students and other kids are back in school, and there’s no real chance of the dreaded May Grays or June Gloom.
On a recent Friday afternoon during Spring Break, my family and I decided to make the short trek to the Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma, California. We didn’t go for the history on this particular day but for the amazingly alive tide pools. The tide pools are teeming with living creatures of many different kinds.
Tourist Tip #2: Find out when the tide is low, otherwise there will be less to see and explore at the tide pools.
After paying our $5 fee to enter the park (you can return for free for a week), we turned right onto a narrow and curvy downhill road. Although it’s tempting for the driver to look at the amazing view, it’s probably safer to keep one’s eyes on the road. One wrong move and you may find yourself upside-down at the bottom of a steep hill.
We easily found a place to park, and advanced toward the trail. From the parking lot, we followed the dirt path toward the water.
Tourist Tip #3 & 4: Wear layers because one minute you will be hot and the very next, you’ll be cold. Remember, the monument is an area near water. Also, I highly suggest having water shoes for this trip. Not flip-flops but something closer to a Teva shoe. There is a fair amount of smaller stones, loose gravel and wet, mossy, and very slippery rocks.
Everywhere you look, there’s another amazing photo op. First, there’s the view of the ocean, the coastal plant life, the layered rocks, the caves, the shells, oh my! Seeing thousands of crabs, sea anemones, starfish, and fish can overwhelm an avid photographer. Between two of us, we took at least 80 pictures! On this particular day we even saw a California Sea Hare,which is a funny name for this creature because it looks and moves more like a snail.
Tourist Tip #5: Allow 2-3 hours to explore just the tide pools. Some places in San Diego don’t live up to the hype but the tide pools in Point Loma are not one of them. Cabrillo National Monument is a must-see.
Tourist Tip #6: Wear sunscreen even if it’s an overcast day. You will thank me later when you don’t look like a lobster in your San Diego selfie!
Tourist Tip #7: Wow, who knew I had so many tips? I guess living in San Diego for over 27 years has made me somewhat of an expert, but I digress. Be sure to bring food because there is none available to buy at this San Diego park.
If seeing nature out in, well, nature, is something you and your family enjoy, then the Cabrillo National Monument is for you!
Originally from the East Coast, Cathie Nichols has spent the last 25 years in San Diego, and stays in the area because of its extraordinary beauty and a lovely lack of humidity. Accused by her three children of looking at too many rocks while visiting Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon and the deserts of Nevada, she continues to marvel at the ever-changing southwest landscape. With trips to Palm Springs, San Francisco, Turkey and Greece, Cathie plans to reawaken her desire to see the world, and leave no stone unturned. Cathie tweets as @bloggoneit.