Be Cabrillo!

Hiking, Tide Pooling and Whale Watching in Cabrillo National Monument

A big year lies ahead. Why not start it off with an explorer’s mind-set? Be Cabrillo! Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, that is, the first foreign visitor (1542) to America’s finest city. Honor his legacy with some San Diego tide pooling, whale watching, and 3.5 miles of walking at the park that bears his name: Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma.

After entering the park, follow signs to the tide pool parking lot (be sure to check the tide charts for low tides, i.e., the best accessibility). Take a 1-mile (round-trip) out-and-back walk on the coastal trail, stopping off at the rocky beaches to search for hermit crabs, bat stars, shore crabs, sea anemones, and maybe even an octopus. Admire the barnacles below and the sandstone bluffs above as you walk along the sea cliffs with a gorgeous Pacific Ocean backdrop.

Gallery image 1 of 10
Gallery image 2 of 10
Gallery image 3 of 10
Gallery image 4 of 10
Gallery image 5 of 10
Gallery image 6 of 10
Gallery image 7 of 10
Gallery image 8 of 10
Gallery image 9 of 10
Gallery image 10 of 10

Then drive back up the hill and park at the visitor center to learn more about Cabrillo. Walk in his footsteps and relive his 1542 discovery of what is now San Diego, enjoying panoramic views of San Diego Bay, Coronado, and downtown.

Next, head south toward the Old Point Loma Lighthouse (built in 1855) and Whale Overlook, a perfect spot to scan the waters for migrating Pacific gray whales. (You can borrow binoculars from the visitor center.) Ready for another walk? Head to the Bayside Trailhead just north of the lighthouse and follow the paved road a half-mile to the dirt trailhead. Here the path descends for a mile through coastal chaparral to an overlook above Ballast Point and the boats and kayaks in the bay. Along the way are numerous interpretive signs and benches with great views as well as a searchlight shelter and power plant, built in 1919 as part of the naval harbor’s defense system. The hike back is all uphill, but you don’t care. You’re an explorer. You’re Cabrillo!

From San Diego, take the I-8 west until it ends, turning left onto Sunset Cliffs, followed by an immediate left onto Nimitz Blvd. Head south on Nimitz for 0.6 mile, turning right onto Famosa Blvd., which becomes Catalina Blvd. Continue 5.3 miles to Cabrillo National Monument. Parking is $10. No dogs.

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Image that represents the story
    Sponsored

    Road Trip Ahead: Oregon Outback

    Remote open spaces, camping under true Dark Skies, hiking and biking trails galore, wildlife refuges, and hot springs! Plan your road trip to the Oregon Outback this summer.

    View
  2. Image that represents the story
    Sponsored

    National Parks Road Trip: Circle of Discovery!

    Love national parks? Love road trips? Combine the two on one fabulous Circle of Discovery route in Northern California and Southern Oregon! This itinerary features 7 national parks with wondrous features.

    View
  3. Image that represents the story

    Easiest Best Hike in the World

    Choose the easiest and most view-rewarding hike in Yosemite. Okay, we’ll go first: the combination of hiking to Sentinel Dome and Taft Point. Both of these lookouts are within a couple miles of each other on Glacier Point Road

    View
  4. Image that represents the story
    Sponsored

    All Roads Lead to Rogue

    Idea for your next road trip: Go Rogue! The Rogue Valley in beautiful Southern Oregon has some of the state’s best hiking, swim holes, and wineries, and the charming historic towns of Ashland, Medford, and Jacksonville.

    View

Trending Stories Northern CA

View all Stories
  1. Image that represents the story

    Tam Slam!

    This 8-mile (round-trip) hike is a pure classic, with redwoods, water-flows, and soaring views of the coastline. Oh yeah, and that ladder!

    View
  2. Image that represents the story

    Secret Beach

    A hidden beach and a killer view? Those are hard to come by, but that’s exactly what you’ll get at Perles Beach on Angel Island. This pocket cove is worth the 1.5-mile trek to get there.

    View
  3. Image that represents the story

    Magical McClures

    McClures Beach is a seductive little spot: small, beautiful, and quiet. It’s easy to while away an afternoon-turned-sunset at this pocket cove in Point Reyes.

    View
  4. Image that represents the story
    Sponsored

    Road Trip Ahead: Oregon Outback

    Remote open spaces, camping under true Dark Skies, hiking and biking trails galore, wildlife refuges, and hot springs! Plan your road trip to the Oregon Outback this summer.

    View