Beach Trip! Take a Daycation to Crab Cove

Nature lovers will want to head to Crab Cove in Alameda for an educational Daycation about Bay Area marine life. Photo via Yelp.

ALAMEDA – Summer is the perfect time for a trip to the beach, and for nature lovers, there’s no better beach than Crab Cove. Located at the north end of Crown Memorial State Beach in Alameda, the Crab Cove Marine Protected Area is California’s first marine reserve on an estuary. Estuaries are defined as bodies of water usually found where rivers meet the sea. At Crab Cove, this provides a unique opportunity to view a wide variety of creatures and habitats.

The best time to view this intertidal life is when the tide is two feet or lower. At that time, you can see the mudflats and rocky shore, which are host to many animals, like blue mussels and shore crabs. To make sure you get this optimal viewing, consult a tide chart as the tides change daily.

All forms of collecting are prohibited in the Crab Cove Marine Protected Area. Further, while you’re invited to explore, you’re asked to do so carefully. If you move any small rocks, put them back in their original position as intertidal creatures are sensitive to the sun and wind.

During your trip, you’ll want to stop by the Crab Cove Visitor Center. It’s of modest size but is jam-packed with information and interactive activities about the San Francisco Bay’s history and habitats. It is also home to an 800-gallon aquarium, which lets you see all kinds of creatures up close. The staff is friendly and eager to answer any questions. The Visitor Center is wheelchair accessible and has a small gift shop. School groups often visit Crab Cove on field trips and naturalist-guided programs are available with advance reservation. On the weekends, drop-in interpretative programs are offered.  You can also get a trail map at the Visitor Center.

Crab Cove is an ideal place for young children to play in the water as the water is shallow and calm – there are no waves to topple anyone. Additionally, you will find one of the greatest inventions ever on the beach – a beach toy library. You “check out” the sand toys for playing and then return them to the box when you’re done. No schlepping toys from the car across the hot sand!

Between the Visitor Center and the sandy beach is a large grassy area. You can play a game of football, Frisbee or even fly a kite here. There are also picnic tables.

Summer months feature free Concerts at the Cove on select Friday evenings through August. You’ll be able to enjoy a night of music and watch the sun set on the bay. The Visitor Center stays open later on these nights and there are kid-friendly activities.

If you go: If the kiosk is attended, parking is $5. The Visitor Center is located at 1252 McKay Ave. in Alameda. It is free and is open Wednesday through Sunday. From March through September, the hours are 10am-5pm. Dogs are not allowed on the beach. To learn more, go to: or call 510-544-3187. You can find a tide chart at:

Your Town Daycations is a series featured in the print edition of Your Town Monthly. This article was originally published in the July 2017 issues.