Just south
of San Francisco, a nature-filled world awaits your exploration. Join Academy experts for an unforgettable weekend of science and scenery along the ravishing, rugged San Mateo County coast.

From dramatic canyons to dry chaparral to colorful kelp forests, the 40-mile stretch of coastline between Pacifica and northern Santa Cruz County is a veritable who’s-who of iconic California ecosystems. Experience this region's exquisite beauty alongside leaders from the Academy's Thriving California initiative as you explore tidepools, embark on plant walks, and enjoy the cozy (and yummy) creature comforts of Costanoa.

Coastal California: A Weekend of Discovery is May 19-21, 2023. Sorry, reservations are no longer available. 

Aerial view of Costanoa eco-resort cabins


Home base for the weekend is Costanoa, one of the Bay Area’s most beloved and unique eco-resorts, located in lovely, low-key Pescadero. Guests will stay in one of 12 Douglas Fir Cabins with stunning mountain, canyon, or ridge views.

  • Per person (double occupancy) in Douglas Fir Double: $1,150
  • Per person (double occupancy) in Douglas Fir King: $1,050
  • Single occupancy in Douglas Fir King: $1,650
  • Per 3rd and 4th guests in Douglas Fir Double: $450


Discoveries by day, deliciousness by night. Immerse yourself in the area’s rich biodiversity and natural history through guided explorations of tidepools and dune ecosystems—and reward your taste buds with gourmet farm-to-table meals at Costanoa and Pie Ranch.




It’s one thing to enjoy nature—it’s quite another to understand it. Deepen your connection to California’s natural wonders with a trio of dynamic (and delightful) Academy co-hosts, Dr. Sarah Jacobs, Dr. Rebecca Johnson, and Alison Young.


May 19-21, 2023 (2 nights)
Costanoa (Pescadero, CA)
Max. 20 participants (ages 13+)
Activity level
From $1,050

  • Yellow
    Two women examine tidepool creatures along the California coast

    Weekend highlights

    Click through the slideshow for a trip preview, and scroll down for more details.

  • Yellow
    Pink nudibranch in a tidepool

    Tour the tidepools  

    Explore some of California’s most vibrant tidepools like an insider—and document your findings via iNaturalist.

  • Yellow
    Red paintbrush flower in a grassy field

    Take a plant walk  

    Learn about the ecology of coastal dune and scrub plant communities and encounter some of their most fascinating species.

  • Yellow
    Headshot of chef Diego Felix

    Eat locally  

    On chef Diego Felix’s menu: Latin American culture, edible biodiversity, and the importance of small-scale producers.

  • Yellow
    Aerial shot of Costanoa eco-resort in Pescadero, CA

    Set your own pace

    De-stress and recharge among the rolling hills, secluded beaches, and rustic charms of Costanoa.

More information

Learn more about Coastal California: A Weekend of Discovery by clicking the categories below.

Highlights & itinerary

Activity highlights

  • We’ll be spending two nights at Costanoa, fully immersed in the natural beauty and wildlife that surround the area. Enjoy early-morning tidepooling on Saturday and Sunday mornings, guided by Academy scientists, where we’ll learn about the ecology of tidepools and oceans. You’ll discover how tides work, get tips for finding the tidepool organisms you’re most interested in seeing, and hear about the survival strategies of intertidal inhabitants along our rocky shore.
  • Saturday afternoon, Academy scientists will lead a plant walk where we’ll learn about the ecology of coastal dune and scrub plant communities. As part of this walk you’ll have the chance to stroll through these different, but closely connected habitats, and hear about the unique plant species that support much of the biodiversity held within these communities.
  • On Saturday night, you’ll enjoy a very special night of learning and dining at Pie Ranch, whose mission is to cultivate a healthy and just food system from seed to table through food education, farmer pathways, and regional partnerships. We’ll take a tour of the ranch, enjoy some locally produced wines, and have a delectable meal prepared by Santa Cruz-based chef Diego Felix of Colectivo Felix that will focus on Latin American culture, the importance of edible biodiversity, and the necessity of small-scale and ecological food producers. We’ll listen to some live music to carry us into the night!
  • Sunday morning, those that are feeling up for it will head back out to the tidepools for some more intertidal adventures. After breakfast, it will be time to pack our things and check out, with plenty of time for more coastal exploration on your own as you make your way back home.

Detailed itinerary


Friday 5/19

  • After you’ve had a chance to check in for your afternoon arrival, we’ll gather together at Costanoa where you’ll hear more about our weekend plans, learn how to use iNaturalist, a tool to help us record biodiversity observations throughout the weekend, meet your fellow travelers, and enjoy a cocktail/happy hour followed by a delicious dinner complete with locally grown produce, wines, and sustainable seafood of the California coast. We’ll finish off the night with a campfire and s’mores!

Saturday 5/20

  • We’ll be waking up early today for our trip to the coastal tidepools near Costanoa, just as the sun is rising! We’ll bring snacks to tide you over until we return to Costanoa for breakfast.
  • After tidepooling, you’ll have some free time before lunch. Some activities might include:
    • Explore the area on your own
    • Participate in a plant-pressing activity
    • Review our tidepool observations and chat about invertebrates with Academy scientists Sarah, Rebecca, and Alison
    • Test your trivia skills
    • Take a nap!
  • In the afternoon after lunch, we’ll go on a plant walk with our botanists.
  • We'll then head off to dinner at Pie Ranch (just a short drive from Costanoa) before heading back to camp for some rest.

Sunday 5/21

  • We’ll go on our second early-morning tidepool discovery adventure, followed by breakfast back at Costanoa.
  • After we pack up and check out, we encourage you to explore the area on your own:
Accommodations & pricing
Interior of Douglas Fir Cabin at Costanoa

Academy guests will stay in one of Costanoa’s 12 Douglas Fir Cabins that overlook the stunning Chalk Hill Mountains, Whitehouse Canyon, and Ohlone Ridge. With either a king or two double beds these accommodations come with a ½ bath (toilet & sink) and access to a dedicated Douglas Fir Comfort Station which include restrooms, indoor hot showers, heated concrete floors, a 24-hour dry sauna, and outdoor fireplace. These duplex cabins have a common front porch and private back deck.

Douglas Fir Cabins include:

  • Fireplace
  • Skylights
  • Bathrobes
  • Comfort Station amenities
  • Mini refrigerator
  • Radio/cell phone charging dock
  • Telephone
  • Coffee station
  • Thermostat-controlled heat
  • Double French doors, which open onto your private deck
  • Hot tub access


  • Per person (double occupancy) in Douglas Fir Double: $1,150
  • Per person (double occupancy) in Douglas Fir King: $1,050
  • Single occupancy in Douglas Fir King: $1,650
  • Per 3rd and 4th guests in Douglas Fir Double: $450

Deposit and payment schedule

  • $500 deposit required to secure your spot by April 1, 2023
  • Final payment due May 1, 2023
  • 100% refund before April 1, 2023
  • 50% refund before April 15, 2023
  • 25% refund before May 1, 2023
  • Refunds not available after May 1, 2023
  • This trip is appropriate for guests ages 13 and up and people with good mobility.
  • Please consider that this trip will require some hiking over rocky terrain as well as walking on sandy trails and beaches.
  • The tidepools are very slippery and require walking over uneven terrain. Be prepared to walk in water up to mid-shin, and be sure to wear shoes with good tread that you don't mind getting wet—no flip-flops!
  • This trip will take place rain or shine.