A Walk on the Bottom of the Ocean: King Tides in California

The coastal states of the western United States are California, Oregon and Washington. Each of them has many landmarks, which attract millions of tourists. Majestic landscapes, water sports or hiking along the coast: the choice of leisure is huge and diverse. But there is a rare natural phenomenon that will surprise you while traveling: the royal tide! Today’s Travellizy story is about how you can walk along the bottom of the ocean in California without a diving suit and without even getting your feet wet.

beach night


What are king tides?

The term “king tides” in the USA is used to describe the highest tides of the ocean. The tides are caused by the gravitational forces of the moon and the sun: the moon's gravity is about two times stronger than that of the sun. An increase in gravity occurs regularly in the Western Hemisphere of the Earth, and the difference in wave height is not very large. But three or four times a year, extremely high tides and, accordingly, low tides occur. Powerful waves go beyond their usual natural boundaries. On such days, you can see how the ocean retreats from the usual coastlines, clearing the territory. The seabed is exposed and inquisitive locals and tourists flock to the beaches to take a walk and take impressive selfies during sunset.



Planning is important!

To enjoy a rare natural phenomenon, you need to plan your visit time in advance and explore the place, where you want to take a walk. It’s convenient to use the official website.

tides map

Closer to January and February, the website will show news about where and when you can join the observations, accurate information about which beaches receive guests and when peak extreme high tides occur. Depending on this, you can plan the day, taking into account parking.


Where to go

The ocean recedes from the coast unevenly, depending on the topography of the bottom. Therefore, before deciding about the place, it is better to double-check the recommendations of park employees or reviews over the Internet. If you visit the Bay Area in January-February, then the coast of the resort town of Capitola (Santa Cruz County) or Alameda, a small town east of San Francisco, will be an excellent choice. A visit to any of these places can be combined with visits to other attractions. 




Capitola is a charming town located on the coast of Santa Cruz County. There is the city of Monterey a few miles from here, and we wrote about it in another our article

Calculate the time to arrive on the Capitola coast at 3-4 o'clock in the afternoon. After lunch in a good restaurant, patisserie or visiting a craft pub, you will be pleased to walk along the promenade without rushing. Capitola offers guests beautiful landscapes and cozy streets.


During the royal tides, when the water recedes from the coast, you can walk several kilometers along the coastline along the bottom of the ocean. It is especially clearly visible how high the ocean is at ordinary times when examining steep cliffs.


The maximum tide height in Capitol reaches more than two meters! At normal times in the evening, strong waves make it impossible to get close to the stones.



Precautionary measures

Although a walk along the bottom of the ocean is like a normal promenade along the beach, still be on your guard: wet stones are very slippery. During the walk, it is recommended to wear comfortable closed shoes with a stable sole. If you have children, explain them in advance the danger of running and jumping over wet rocks.

rock sunset

There are also sharp seashells everywhere that can easily cut your feet.


It is necessary to return to a safe place in advance, so as not to be at the mercy of the tides. The exact cycle times can be found on the web pages of local parks.

king tides return list

Attentive travelers will certainly notice small narrow caves at the base of the cliffs.


Investigating them personally is not recommended: rocks are constantly destroyed by waves, they can collapse. In order to minimize risks, rangers monitor the state of observation platforms very carefully. But time and the elements take over, and part of the embankment has collapsed in Capitola recently. Traces of this incident can be seen in the photo:



Alameda: a magical view of San Francisco

If during king tides you are visiting San Francisco, make sure to seize the opportunity and go to the opposite side of the bay. On the picturesque beaches of the town of Alameda, you will fully enjoy a walk along the beach and make wonderful shots with a view of San Francisco.

san Francisco view

All the parking places may be taken, because many locals come here for evening walks.

moon view

Small sections of the beach are fenced off from people: small birds with the unusual name "snowy plover" feed on them. These small dexterous birds feed on tiny crustaceans and mollusks.

bird on water

To allow small but dexterous hunters to feast on their catch, the rangers set up barriers.


For families with children, watching flocks of birds will be especially interesting: Pixar has recently released a short cartoon about a similar bird. A touching sweet story about a savvy chick has won millions of fans around the world as well as the Oscar. Having familiarized yourself with the cartoon before a walk, you can look at the life of seaside birds nearby.


Ecosystem protection and preserving

During the walk, do not forget that you are visiting the inhabitants of the ocean. Under your feet, you may see inconspicuous but living creatures. Try not to step on them, so as to preserve them and not disturb their peace.

ocean livers

Thanks to the king tides, scientists and oceanologists better understand ocean ecology and track the impact of people on marine life.


Scientists ask those who post photos on social networks to use the hashtag #KingTides. Thanks to this, an excellent database is being accumulated, which will help plan actions of special environmental and scientific services.

We wish Travellizy readers a pleasant walk along the ocean bottom! We will be happy to see your photos with the hashtag #KingTides!