In blogging about this SoCal region we all love, we have received numerous comments, emails and tweets from visitors who share our passion for O.C. With so many fans of the area, we wanted to give them the chance to tell you about their Orange County experiences, in their own words.
Heather Riccobono, an Arizona resident who recently visited O.C. with her husband and five-year-old daughter, shares her OC experience here:
My husband and I visited Dana Point a few times before we were married and fell in love with the tide pools. We could spend hours exploring them in the warm California sun. Now, several years later, we've finally returned to share the wonderful experience with our five-year-old daughter.
We recently drove from Arizona to spend a long weekend in beautiful Dana Point. The" Ocean Institute" offers interactive tide pool hikes led by an experienced guide. The educational opportunity was the perfect way to introduce our daughter to the tide pools full of sea life. We arrived early with plenty of time to visit the Ocean Institute before our scheduled hike.
We were amazed by all the hands-on learning opportunities, including our daughter's first squid dissection.
After a couple hours of learning inside the Ocean Institute, we sat outside and ate our packed lunch then went to check in at the desk for the interactive tide pool hike. Low tide offers the most ideal viewing points, so the hikes are typically scheduled midday. Our naturalist guide introduced herself, shared safety rules, and started leading the small group to the tide pools. The 15-minute hike followed a narrow path along the rocky beach.
Our guide made many stops to talk about ocean discoveries along the way. She pointed out different types of seaweed, shells and sea life. She also regularly reminded us to drink water and offered her canteen to guests without their own.
We arrived at the perfect spot to explore the tide pools full of crabs, sea stars, and snails, among many other creatures.
Before our group ventured off on their own, our guide shared safety tips and suggestions. She pointed out different sea life and advised us to seek her assistance with new discoveries.
Our curious daughter had many questions for our guide and was amazed by her knowledge. We had a great day learning and exploring on the interactive tide pool hike.
The Ocean Institute is closed during the week for school field trips and activities. Public weekend hours are 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The interactive tide pool hike and other hands-on learning opportunities are included with admission to the Ocean Institute. Admission prices are $6.50 for adults and $4.50 for children 3-12 years. Children younger than 2 do not require admission.
A few tips for planning your visit to the interactive tide pool hike:
- Pack sunscreen, a hat, and water.
- Wear appropriate shoes. The trail is challenging in sandals.
- Tours are suggested for children ages 8 older.
- Call ahead of the day of your desired tour to check the departure time. The tour times change according to the tide.
Although we are comfortable walking and exploring the tide pools on our own, we will definitely go back to the Ocean Institute for another interactive hike when we visit again. Each hike is guaranteed to be unique and the learning opportunities are abundant.