See San Simeon’s Sea Life

San Simeon is home to abundant wildlife, and San Simeon Beach’s tide pools are the perfect place to get up close with nature! Find saltwater mussels hiding among the rocks, discover vibrant starfish making their way along stretches of sandbars, or simply watch the sea anemone ebb and flow with the tide. No matter what you’re looking for, the tide pools are teaming with plenty of sea life to observe and explore.

Located off Highway 1, directly across the street from the entrance to Hearst Castle, San Simeon Beach is easily accessible by car. Find a spot in the parking lot, and head to the beach at low tide—in the early afternoons and early mornings.

It’s time to head out and discover the various sea life in the tide pools!



Tide Pool Critters

Anemones - A close relative of coral and jellyfish, sea anemones attach themselves to rocks in tide pools or on coral reefs waiting for small fish to pass close enough to reel in with their stinging tentacles.

Barnacles – These little fellows have a hard-outer shell, similar to crabs, but use their legs to eat. The legs, or Cirri, trap food beneath the shell to feed the barnacle.

Crabs – Crab shells come in all shapes, sizes and colors, including white, tan, green and brown. These crustacean move around on eight legs, primarily using the larger front legs to eat and defend against predators.

Fish – The most common fish found in tide pools are Sculpins and Opaleyes, ranging from 3-5 inches in length. They are well camouflaged, so look closely for these fish swimming near the rocks!

Mussels and Clams – These critters spend up to half their day exposed to air when the tide recedes, surviving by sealing their shells shut with seawater trapped inside. When the tide rolls back in, the mussels and clams open their shells to allow food and fresh seawater to enter.

Sea Slug – The sea slug is very similar to a garden slug, but instead of lungs the sea slug has gills. These slimy critters spend their days feeding on red and brown algae found in the tide pools.

Sea Stars – These beautiful creatures range in colors from bright orange to soft pink. Sea stars have five arms, with tubes on their body strong enough to open mussels and clams to feed on.

Snails – Marine snails are categorized into two groups, herbivores and carnivores. Both types of snails use a sharp tooth that they use to scrape algae off of rocks or drill into an animal’s shell.

Urchins – The sea urchin is completely covered in spines with the purpose of protecting, feeding and creating a home. While the spines look intimidating, they do not hold any venom.


To learn more about the wildlife in San Simeon, visit here.