Palos Verdes

Point Vicente Lighthouse - photo copyright Bruce Perry

Point Vicente Lighthouse – photo copyright Bruce Perry

Abalone Cove State Marine Conservation Area and Point Vicente State Marine Reserve, two marine protected areas off the coast of the Palos Verdes Peninsula in Los Angeles County, form an almost 20 mile contiguous protection zone for a coastal biodiversity hot spot. This area the southern end of the Santa Monica Bay and contain surfgrass beds, kelp forests, reefs, and canyons.

Interesting Facts:

  • These two MPAs are offshore of one of the only south-facing beaches in southern California, due to the curvature of the cove.
  • The Redondo Submarine Canyon runs near Abalone Cove and Point Vicente, bringing whales and other deepwater creatures close to shore.
  • Some of the local favorite marine life to spot while on a dive include: large schools of blacksmith, treefish, opaleye, horn and leopard sharks, octopus, kelp bass, sea pens, rays, and guitarfish.
  • Palos Verdes has been depicted in a variety of movies and TV shows. Most notably The Pirates of the Caribbean series was partially produced in these waters, mostly for aerial shots of the Black Pearl moving through the water. Above the site of Abalone Cove SMCA sits the site of Marineland, one of the nation’s first marine-focused theme parks.

Recreation Opportunities:

  • Go for a whale watching tour. Risso’s dolphins, orcas, blue whales and gray whales can all be spotted from these shores. This area is especially popular for watching the migration of gray whales as they arrive and leave their breeding areas in Baja California.
  • See the Point Vicente Lighthouse—a classic lighthouse that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is still in partial operation today, and tours are held several times throughout each month. There is also an interpretive center and museum nearby to explore.
  • Go diving and snorkeling at the Old Marineland Cove in Point Vicente SMCA. This moderately difficult dive features a shallow reef ecosystem featuring kelp, garibaldi, octopus, sea urchins, and anemones. Terranea Resort has installed a very accessible pathway to the water’s edge that accommodates scuba divers and includes interpretive signage.
  • Hit any number of hiking trails around the several land nature preserves on Palos Verdes Peninsula. Search for the endangered and endemic butterfly to the peninsula, the Palos Verdes Blue Butterfly.