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Tide pools can be some of the most interesting mini environments to stumble upon during a beach stroll. Santa Barbara has plenty of oceanfront property (ie Hotel Milo), so in turn there are tons of scenic spots to seek out these tiny, aquatic, fascinating ecosystems. Here are some of our favorites:

Bates Beach

Also known as North Rincon Beach, Bates Beach is located slightly south of Hotel Milo in Carpinteria. This coastal area sweeps in a big C shape and when the tide is low, there are dozens of shallow, rocky pools that become visible, perfect for tidepooling.

The best way to find sea life in these low-lying pools is to wait till low tide (check online here for times) and overturn rocks slowly, watching for the splash of a jumping octopus or the scurrying of a crab hiding under a nearby rock.

Coal Oil Point

Walk along Devereux Beach to a peninsula called Coal Oil Point, where you can find some of the best little tidepools in Goleta. This beach is frequented by UCSB students who live in Isla Vista and like to spend their free time at the beach, whether it’s tanning, surfing or finding tide pools in search of sand crabs and octopuses.

This section of the coast is also part of the Coal Oil Point Natural Reserve, which protects a wide variety of coastal and ocean inlet habitats. Keep an eye out for some of these protected animals, such as the Snowy Plovers and Black-tailed Jackrabbits!

Coronado Butterfly Preserve

This isolated section of cliffs in Northern Santa Barbara has some of the most beautiful wildlife both in and out of the water. The butterflies here are spectacular and the tide pools at the base of the cliffs are charming spots brimming with sea life.

Park on Coronado Street and then walk a short distance through the eucalyptus grove to the edge of the exposed bluffs. As with all tide pools, the best time to go is during low-tide.

Montana de Oro

If you find your way north of Santa Barbara, Montana de Oro is located in San Luis Obispo and has some of the best short hiking trails and most popular tide pools around. The entire ocean bluff base is filled with rock crevices and small pools at low tide. With so many spots to search, it’s hard not to find a few sea creatures scuttling to and from their hiding spots.