Visit the Tidepools
Fitzgerald Marine Reserve is located in Moss Beach, CA, about 40 minutes south of San Francisco on Highway 1, or 15 minutes north of the city of Half Moon Bay. Fitzgerald Marine Reserve is in a no-take Marine Protected Area; no collecting of organisms, shells, rocks, driftwood, etc. is permitted. Please do not bring buckets to the reef. Dogs are not allowed. The reserve opens at 8 a.m.; closing time varies seasonally and is posted. There is no admission charge.
Visitors can help take care of the tidepools by observing the Good Tidepooler Rules of Conduct.
Planning Your Visit
Fitzgerald Marine Reserve
200 Nevada Ave.
Moss Beach, CA 94038.
The best time to visit the tidepools is during a zero or negative low tide, when the rocks are exposed.
To plan your visit:
(1) Find the low tides for the date you plan to visit. The low tide should be 1 ft. or less during daylight visiting hours, or you will need to select another date.
See our Low Tides page for details. On weekends and holidays our friendly volunteer naturalists rove the tidepools to answer questions.
If your group has 10 or more people, you MUST make a reservation to visit the reserve. First, view our list of tour times to choose an available tour time. Reservations for group tours are only available during specified low tides, and take into account the needs of teachers, parents, and students. The tour times are for appropriate low tides that occur before sunset, and usually on a school day. Refer to the lists to find available tour dates and times, then call the County Parks reservations line (650-363-4021) to reserve.
What if there’s “no suitable low tide” when you want to visit? What this means is that the tide pools are under water that is too deep to see the tidepool creatures, or that the low tide does not occur during daylight visiting hours (8 a.m. – sunset, daily). Even if the tide is not low enough for tidepooling, there are blufftop trails to explore. Pick up a Self-Guided Brochure at the Ranger’s Station for an overview of the trails and the section of the California Coastal Trail that runs through the park.
Get Driving Directions: Click here for driving directions.
Download Tide Zones Guide
Before your visit, read through this 15-page full-color PDF to learn how tides work, get an introduction to the geology underlying the tide pools, and meet some of the organisms you will find during your visit. Also download the TideZoneMap.
To add to your visit, FFMR has prepared a full-color two-sided brochure that you can use as a guide to the reefs and the tidepool creatures.
If your question isn’t answered here or elsewhere on our web site, please use the contact form to submit your question and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
I think I lost my keys/cell phone/jacket at the reserve…
Leave a message describing your lost items at (650) 728-3584 and leave a phone number for our staff to call if the item is found or turned in to the ranger station.
When is the reserve open?
The reserve opens at 8:00 am every morning.
The closing time varies according to the season. See https://parks.smcgov.org/locations/fitzgerald-marine-reserve
The best time to visit the park in order to tidepool is when the low tide for the day occurs during open hours and is +1.0′ or lower.
Can we visit on Thanksgiving? Christmas? New Years? Presidents’ Day? etc.
The reserve stays open on all holidays.