King Tide at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

My husband and I had tickets for the ‘King’ of all concerts- Tool at  Viejas Arena SDSU  on Sunday, Jan 12. It was a Christmas present from my sister-in-law (thank you, Tess!), so we decided to make a day out of it. My husband even made the situation sweeter by getting a hotel room. I usually work on the weekends, so you can probably imagine how excited I was to take a day off! So, my main objective was to make this one of the best days ever in San Diego  ( my best days are always at the beach!). I knew that the King Tide was due in for that weekend, so I thought what better place to check out the tide pools than over at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park-Garbage Beach.

What is a King Tide?

point loma tide chart jan 11 to 13 King Tide
Point Loma Tide Chart

After a full and new moon, a spring tide occurs, due to the gravitational pull,  of the moon and sun. The result produces a very high tide and, in turn, a very low tide. So, in essence, a Spring Tide is when there is the most significant distance between the high tide and the low tide. The best time to go to the tide pools during extremely low tide is during winter because, In the summer months, all the shallow tides only happen at night.

Garbage Beach low tide comparison Garbage Beach
Top- 2:33 pm
Bottom- 3:21 pm

Today’s (January 12) spring tide was to peak at 4:44 pm at -1.34 ft. We arrived at our destination at 2:15 pm and left by 3:44 pm. While keeping this in mind, you can see the difference in the water level of the photos I am about to present to you. In hindsight, this low tide of -1.34 ft is low, but I did visit just south of here at the Cabrillo

Tide pools sunset cliffs garbage beach

I have written a few posts on Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, so I will leave the links here if you would like to take a look at them

Are you ready? Let’s go!

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

Garbage Beach 1-12-2020 king tide

Why Sunset Cliffs Natural Park? Well, I have always wanted to go down unto the beach here as we always hike up above on the 18-acre linear trail, which runs parallel to the Pacific Ocean. The topography of the land here includes weathered sandstone coastal bluffs, arches and sea caves. So if you want to know the main reason for coming here, well I wanted to see the caves!

Danger! Beware! The Cliffs are Very Dangerous!

Sunset cliffs warning signs san diego hiking

It must be noted, right off the bat, that this area is hazardous. In fact, from the years of 2005 – 2018, there were 24 deaths and 49 severe injuries from in and around the waters of Sunset Cliffs. Almost all were from out of town. There are many signs all up and down the linear trail which warns of the danger of the cliffs being unstable.

unstable cliffs sunset cliffs point loma san diego

Please be very careful and do not walk too close to the edge. If you would like more information, I linked a relevant article up above, which showcases where each injury occurred.

Going Down to Garbage Beach

garbage beach staircase sunset cliffs natural park

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park- Hillside Park (50 acres) is located at the very end of Sunset Cliffs Blvd and Ladera Street. Here on the corner, you will find a metal staircase that will take you down to the rocks below. Usually, you are not able to walk on these rocks without getting a little wet.

But today, the stones are nice and dry, but we made sure to stay away from the stones with algae. We consciously tried to stay away from anything living on the rocks. At times this was not easy, especially when faced with the fact that there is just one way to go regardless.



At the south end of the rocks, we finally arrive at the sand. Almost immediately to the left, there is a rope. It quickly came to me that this is the infamous way down to the beach that I have only heard about.



I saw one woman coming down the rope with a small-mid size dog. I couldn’t even imagine doing such a thing, but these two seemed to know what they were doing.

Later on, when we were hiking up above at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, we came upon the entrance point. Located on in front of Point Loma Nazarene College parking lot

King Tide at New Break Beach 

As we were making our way to New Break Beach, I was getting very excited because this beach is usually covered with water. There is only a small patch on sand present on most days, but today that was not the case.

I made my way to take a closer look at the tide pools. Too bad we didn’t have more time as I would have liked to walk out a little more to see some sea creatures. But on second thought, that probably wouldn’t be a great idea as I did not have the right shoes.


Walking Around Sunset Cliffs Natural Park-Hillside Park

After checking out the tide pools, we went back up the staircase and continued to Hillside Park Section of Sunset Cliffs Natural Park. I love to see how things have been coming with the renovations that have been taking place here since 2005.

Here are a few to compare-

Southern Maritime Chaparral and Coastal Sage Scrub in the northern canyon, and Maritime Succulent Scrub and Coastal Sage Scrub is located in the northwest canyons and southeast corners.

 Sunset Cliffs Natural Park Linear Trail

As you can see, we left the coast about an hour before the low tide reached its peak. I sure wish that we could have stayed a bit longer, but we needed to get dinner and get ready for the concert!

Here is a comparison photo that I took when we first arrived and then when we were about to leave. Can you see the difference?

Do you like to inspect tide pools? If you live in the San Diego area, the next best time to go will be on Feb 7-9th

Resources-

  • https://obrag.org/2019/06/deaths-and-dangers-at-beautiful-sunset-cliffs-a-survey-from-2005-through-2018/
  • https://www.sandiego.gov/sites/default/files/legacy/park-and-recreation/pdf/parkdesign/sunsetcliffsmasterplan.pdf

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