Plan Your Shoot

Below are some tips and guidelines to help you plan a fun and productive shoot.  The most important thing to remember, however, is to be safe!  Take extra precautions when you walk on slippery areas or near big waves, and always be aware of your surroundings and the weather conditions.

Where should I take pictures?

Check out this GoogleMap for king tide dates and times in your neighborhood. – If you are interested in participating in our citizen science photo monitoring program take a look at our other GoogleMap that has specific locations identified by a variety of coastal organizations as places of interest to observe changes from year to year.


View California King Tides tide chart 2013-2014 in a larger map

Some of the most powerful images are taken in coastal areas that are subject to flooding and erosion, and of places where high water levels can be gauged against familiar landmarks (such as cliffs, rocks, roads, buildings, bridge supports, sea walls, staircases, dikes, and piers). Below are some locations around the state where you can view the King Tides.

North Coast/Humboldt: Eureka: Woodley Island; Indian Island; Del Norte St. Pier; Halvorsen Park/The Adorni Center. Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary. King Salmon Beach. New Navy Base Road in Manila/Samoa.

San Francisco Area Outer Coast: Ocean Beach; Stinson Beach; Bolinas; Pacifica: Beach Blvd. Sea Wall near the municipal pier; Laguna Salada. City of Capitola. City of Santa Cruz.

Inner SF Bay: Proposed Treasure Island development site. South Bay: Redwood Creek and proposed Redwood City dev. site, Dumbarton Bridge.  Marin: Corte Madera, Richardson Bay, Gallinas Creek (north of China Camp).

Central Coast: Monterey: Marina State Beach, Monterey State Beach, Cannery Row; Carmel: Carmel Beach; Big Sur: McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Andrew Molera State Park Beach, Garrapata State Park Beach, Pfeiffer Beach.

Santa Barbara Area: Isla Vista beaches, Devereux/Coal Oil Point Beach, Campus Point, Sands Beach, Goleta Beach County Park, Leadbetter Beach, Arroyo Burro/Hendry’s Beach, Butterfly Beach, Miramar Beach, Padaro Lane, Carpinteria Salt Marsh, Hobson State Beach, Faria, and Emma Wood State Beach.

Santa Monica: Broad Beach, Malibu shoreline homes, Marina del Rey, Port of Long Beach, Port of Los Angeles.

Orange County: Seal Beach/Sunset Beach Oceanfront (City of Seal Beach), Huntington Harbor (Huntington Beach), Newport Beach islands and peninsula (Newport Beach).

San Diego: San Diego Bay, Oceanside Beach, San Elijo Lagoon, Del Mar Dog Beach/San Dieguito Lagoon Entrance, Torrey Pines (where Penasquitos enters the ocean), La Jolla Shores, Mission Beach, Imperial Beach, and the Tijuana Estuary.

View NOAA tide charts for specific tide and location information.

What other information do I need with my photos?

Remember to take note of the time, date, location, and orientation of your photos so that you can include this information when you upload to Flickr. If your phone or camera has geolocation service, turn it on so that you can record the exact longitude and latitude of your shot as well.

“Before and after” pictures contrasting low and high tide for the same location can be particularly powerful imagery.

When shoud I take pictures?

The best time to take pictures is at the daily “peak tide”, or when the tide is highest. Peak tide occurs at different times along the California coast. Peak tides for some popular locations are listed in the table below. For additional locations, visit NOAA’s Tides and Currents website.

Note: Weather patterns will significantly impact water levels, and higher water levels often happen around the same time as storms. Many times the impacts of storm surge and high winds during storms are more dramatic than the extreme high tides. The Initiative welcomes photos of high water at any point during the year: either during King Tide events or during storms that bring higher water levels. 

List when the king tides happen on different parts of the California coast

List when the king tides happen on different parts of the California coast