A Park a Day: White Point Beach, San Pedro

July is National Parks & Recreation Month, and all month long LAist will be featuring a hand-selected park a day to showcase just a few of the wonderful recreation spaces—big or small—in the Los Angeles area.

White Point (also known as Royal Palms Beach) is a secluded and raw beach spot located under the bluffs of White Point Park in San Pedro. Sheltered under the cliffs, ice cream trucks, ocean view playground, and parched hiking trails of White Point Park, this beach features warm tide pools filled with colorful sea creatures, big ocean sprays, intriguing rock formations, and a feral cat colony. The rockier terrain of White Point Beach attracts a quiet, low key crowd that appreciates the sound of crashing waves and kid-friendly tide pools.

According to the National Park Service, White Point was a major abalone fishing, farming, and processing spot for first generation Issei Japanese immigrants who pioneered the area's abalone industry during the 1890s after their employment with the Pacific Railroad Company. Anti-Japanese propaganda and legislation halted the Issei abalone works at White Point in 1905. In 1915 the site's natural sulphur resources were used to build a resort with piped in sulpher pools. At the time, it was one of the few recreational facilities that Japanese were allowed to use. The resort grounds were demolished during the 1933 Long Beach Earthquake and all that remains of the White Point Health Resort is a broken fountain.

These days White Point is used by the public for all sorts of activities, but the big draw here seems to be the tide pools. These little aquatic habitats stay warm year-round and contain communities of small marine animals. At any given time, the tide pools brim with sea cucumbers, hermit crabs, coral clusters, sea urchins, and starfish. It is okay for visitors to pet the tide pool dwellers, but removing the animals or taking them home is considered theft and defacement by the Los Angeles County Parks Department because it depletes this public treasure for future visitors and disrupts the natural habitat. The White Point tide pools are located amid the big rocks by the sand. Use caution when entering the tide pools — they are very slippery.

White Point is perhaps most beautiful at low tide when unusual stegosaurus-like channels of slick rock jut out of the ocean. The formations on the southern end of the beach are difficult to navigate but slow, careful maneuvers make the effort well worth it to view these fault-squished and striated folds of earth. The rare rock formations are also good hiding spots for marine life, especially sea urchins. Other interesting geologic asides at White Point include the tar seeping rocks that dot the sand; the cliff strata and collapsing trees viewable only from the beach; he odd mixture of signage that has merged with the bluffs as a result of local tectonic movement.

The northern part of White Point's beach has a manicured promenade along the water with plaques detailing the parks history, benches, and pretty tile work, although many visitors prefer to lounge on large rocks or beach chairs to watch the waves crashing against the rocks on the southern end. The main entrance of White Point Park on Paseo del Mar has a playground, lush grass, bathrooms, and picnic tables that overlook the sea with an excellent view of Catalina Island. To access the beach, visitors can drive or walk down Kay Fiorentino Drive. The parking lot on Paseo del Mar is less expensive than the lot at the bottom of the hill beside the beach.