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King tides in Santa Cruz: A natural show to explore in Family

One of the best things in California during the winter and fall is the King tide season 👑. Living in Santa Cruz we get to enjoy it every year specially since my kids were little. I adore when my kids experience outdoors, and KING tides are great opportunity to explore sea life. But if you never hear of it before you may ask what king tide is exactly.  I love January in Santa Cruz, California.

Why are king tide great?

The King Tides offers one of the most fun natural shows for the youth and adults that love nature.  As a mother of a little merman, I have to say he was in heaven finding all the sea creatures. It is so wonderful to see his passion about all the Earth’s creatures. 

Kids love Splashing anemones were the favorite thing they do as well as climbing the rocks uncovered for the low tide. Rocks were millions of years before were corals houses and you can see that. Millions of years fossils are as well undiscovered by the low tide and the show is just Amazing.  Here are few pictures you definitely can see beyond the regular low tide. Make sure to don’t smash little creatures.

What is king tide? 

King Tide season! It is the most extreme tide of the year 🌊. It occurs with the special alignment of 🌎🌒Earth, and Moon at the nearest and farthest points respectively of the Sun 🌞, resulting in the largest tidal range seen over the course of a year. So, tides are enhancing extreme low tides. 

This is an amazing natural phenomenon that happens every January. The king tide causes extreme high and low tides. It occurs with the special alignment of heavenly bodies: when the Earth, Moon, and Sun are aligned at the nearest and farthest points respectively of a body’s direct orbit around the Sun, resulting in the largest tidal range seen over the course of a year. 

So, tides are enhancing extreme low tides. This exposes prime conditions for looking at tide pools, miles of beach, and extended beach exploration. The king tide causes extreme high and low tides💦. This tide exposes prime conditions for looking at tide pools, 🐙miles of beach, and extended beach exploration. 

When will king tide will happen in 2024

January 11 & 12, 2024 and February 9, 2024.

Best Spots to see king tide in Santa Cruz

In Santa Cruz, California, there are several spots where you can observe king tides. Here are recommended spots:

West Cliff Drive: The scenic West Cliff Drive offers panoramic views of the coastline. You can find multiple vantage points along the cliffs to observe the king tides.

Natural Bridges State Beach: This beach is known for its natural rock bridges and is a popular spot for watching high tides.

Lighthouse Field State Beach: Located near the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, Lighthouse Field State Beach provides an elevated viewpoint for observing king tides.

East Cliff Drive: Similar to West Cliff Drive, East Cliff Drive provides coastal views, and you can find spots along the cliffs with stairs to go down the beach.

Capitola Village: with its picturesque beach and waterfront, can be a charming location to observe king tides.

Things you can do:

Go for a walk around the stretch of the coast. It is possible to walk from Watsonville to Capitola the best stretch are the beaches around pleasure Point and New Britton for us. There are few king tide guide walks around the coast. 

Other Places to Explore king tide:

Noyo Headlands Park, Mendocino County at Glass Beach, W Elm Street.

1700 Elkhorn Road, Watsonville. Sonoma County

King Tides walk on Berkeley WaterfrontBerkeley, Alameda CountySea Breeze Deli, 598 University Avenue

Are There King Tides in California?

Yes, king tides occur in California, during specific times of the year, gravitational forces result in higher-than-normal tides.

In California, king tides are most noticeable along the coastline, where they can lead to elevated sea levels and more significant tidal fluctuations. Coastal areas, including those in Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego, may experience the effects of king tides.

These events often attract attention because they can offer a glimpse into potential future sea level rise impacts and how coastal areas might be affected. People interested in observing king tides should check tide predictions and safety guidelines, as they can provide a unique opportunity to witness the influence of tidal forces on the coastline. It’s essential to exercise caution and be aware of potential coastal hazards during these events.

How often does a king tide occur?

It happens when this alignment of 🌎 occurs every year. They are here during the winter and fall.

King tides, which are the highest predicted high tides of the year, occur a few times annually. They are typically associated with the gravitational pull of the sun and the moon when they are in alignment with the Earth. The occurrence of king tides is most notable during specific lunar phases, particularly during the full moon and new moon.

In general, you can expect king tides to happen a couple of times each month, typically around the time of the new moon and full moon. The gravitational forces are strongest during these lunar phases, leading to higher-than-normal tidal levels.

While king tides themselves are a natural and recurring phenomenon, they have gained increased attention in recent years due to concerns about sea-level rise and the potential impacts of climate change on coastal communities. King tide events provide a glimpse into what future sea levels might look like under different scenarios.

Can you swim in a king tide?

Swimming is Not a good idea since the water is retrieve so much. It can be challenging and potentially dangerous. King tides bring exceptionally high water levels, strong currents, and powerful waves to coastal areas. The conditions during a king tide may create hazardous situations for swimmers, including:

  1. Strong Currents: The elevated water levels during a king tide can lead to stronger-than-usual ocean currents. These currents can be difficult to navigate, making swimming more challenging and posing a safety risk.
  2. Increased Wave Action: King tides are often associated with higher wave heights. The powerful waves can create turbulent conditions, increasing the risk of injury or exhaustion for swimmers.
  3. Rapid Changes in Water Depth: King tides can cause rapid changes in water depth along the shoreline. This can result in unexpected drop-offs or deeper areas, increasing the risk of accidents, especially for those unfamiliar with the local conditions.
  4. Underlying Hazards: The higher water levels during a king tide may expose underwater hazards that are normally submerged. Rocks, reefs, or other obstacles may become more dangerous during these events.

It’s crucial to prioritize safety and exercise caution around coastal areas during king tides. If you are considering swimming, it’s advisable to check local tide predictions, be aware of any posted advisories or warnings, and follow the guidelines provided by lifeguards or local authorities. Additionally, if you’re not a strong swimmer or are unfamiliar with the specific conditions, it’s recommended to avoid swimming during king tides. Always prioritize your safety and the safety of others .

It can get pack and wild but it is super fun and extraordinary for kids and enjoyable to all. Seeing amazing sea creatures and underwater life is truly amazing.

I Hope this is useful for you. Enjoy!


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I am Rocio

Hello there! Thank you for stopping by. My name is Rocio, and I’m a Latina mother with a wanderlust. I believe that family trips are important in forming well-rounded kids. Even when you have kids, you can still travel, so I help busy parents figure out how. Through my blog, Real world Mami, I want to give you tips that will help you plan epic trips to both well-known and less-known places around the world. Happy Travels!

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