Roving Tips and FAQs

Basic Greetings

  • Make eye contact, say hello, and ask “Is this your first visit to Cabrillo?” This opens an avenue to conversation.
  • Foreign visitors, smile and say hello. They often speak a little English. It’s important to connect with them too.

Points of Interest

  • The gap in the cliffs just south of Lot 2 is the “Harbor Seal Window,” a great place to watch the seals basking and playing.
  • Often times visitors don’t know how difficult the Coastal Trail can be, especially our older visitors. If visitors look like they’re struggling, point out a few “pit stops” along the path such as the bench at Lot 2, the wood beam retaining step on top of the Spur Trail and the concrete rail wall by the searchlight. These three stops are great for a rest with a view.
  • The pop-up searchlight – It’s a great segue into the history of CNM and its importance during WWII.
  • The Shaw’s Agave
  • Gray Whale Migration (winter)

Behavior Concerns

In all interactions, it’s important to switch from a behavior correction to a connection quickly. That way it becomes a positive encounter for everyone. Some people may just be difficult to interact with anyway … but this can help:

  • Correct behavior
  • Seek to understand why
  • Educate
  • Help them achieve goal within the parameters of the park

Some examples of behavior corrections:

  • Stay on the path – “I’m sorry, I need to ask you to stay on the path. The view is great from there isn’t it? I understand, but we’re dealing with a lot of erosion and unstable cliffs … have you seen the view from this point?”
  • Smoking/Vaping – “I’m sorry, smoking of anything is prohibited within all areas of the park. It’s a park policy for the safety and comfort of all guests. Thanks for understanding.”
  • Dogs – “I know your dog is having a great time, but it needs to stay on its leash. It’s not safe for it to run around in the brush, we do have rattlesnakes and lots of thorns. The dogs all seem to really enjoy themselves along the path. Just to let you know, dogs are not allowed in the tidepool area: that’s anyplace you see traces of water. The rule helps to protect the marine life. There are plenty of things for your dog to smell and observe on the path. Thanks for understanding.”
  • Picking flowers – “Hi, I’m sorry, I need to collect those flowers you picked. Unfortunately, everything here is protected, so you’re not allowed to remove anything from anywhere in the park. These are pretty, aren’t they? They are Sea Dahlias. Would you like to take a picture of them? There are also great apps you can use to scan any plant and it’ll tell you what it is. That way you can keep your own photo album of flowers you would like to collect.”


  • What is this green metal roof? It’s a pop-up searchlight from WWII. 
  • What are those plants with the stalks? Those are the Shaw’s Agave. Their stalk shoots up and blooms only once in their lifetime and then they die. They normally live about 30 years.
  • Why do a lot of the plants look dead? They are dormant during the dry season. Once the rain comes, they will burst back to life.
  • What’s the best time for low tide? Fall and winter months are when we get the best low tides during the daytime.
  • Are those seals or sea lions? Do you see dolphins? We have both harbor seals and California Sea Lions in the area. We also occasionally see dolphins near the tidepools.
  • When can you see the whales? The winter months, November through February, as they migrate south to Baja California.
  • What kind of birds are those? The ones that glide along the cliffs are California Brown pelicans. The black birds that constantly flap their wings are Double-Crested and Brandt’s Cormorants.
  • Where does this road go? The road dead ends at the Wastewater Treatment plant. You need to go back up the road you came down to get to the rest of the park.
  • Where does this trail go? The Coastal Trail goes from the tidepool area up to parking lot 2. It goes up and down a few hills and is half a mile long.

Last revised 20-Nov-21