King Tide Throws Rocks Over Sea Wall, Radically Alters Butterfly Beach

The famous and usually pristine beach community of Montecito, known for being home to movie stars and royalty, was shocked and awed on Sunday, January 22, as many residents found their beloved Butterfly Beach strewn with a plethora of rocks, including all over the walk ways and street in front of the luxurious Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel and Coral Casino Club. The rocky debris is a never before seen sight, according to long time residents. A King Tide, following the recent storm surge which had already dramatically altered the landscape with shells and sticks and debris was the culprit: at high tide the waves threw rocks where cars park and people often set up beach chairs, making the entire beach appeared twice as rocky as it has been since the rains began. Notably, much of the trash and shells that have been there since the storm last week — on the usually all sand, clean beach— is gone, with rocks of all sizes and shapes now being the dominant feature. The Four Seasons has remained closed since the start of Covid, and suffered damage in the storm last week, as well as the 2018 Montecito Mudslide.

Scroll through the photos above and see below

By Amy Katz

Hundreds of visitors to Montecito’s Butterfly beach on January 22, 2023, a favorite seascape of Royals and Movie Stars, were confused, then awed, to see rocks strewn all over the walkways, sidewalks, street and sand, further altering a landscape already dramatically changed in recent weeks due to the atmospheric river/storm surge.

The culprit was a “King Tide”, which  sent waves and rocks catapulting over the sea wall in a never-before-seen surge in front of the luxurious Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel and Coral Casino Club. Notably, much of the debris and shells that have been on the beach in recent days are gone: rocks are now being reigning feature.

King tides occur when the orbits and alignment of the sun, moon and Earth merges to produce the most gargantuan tidal effects of the year.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, “rubble on the road and pro-surf worthy waves predict the way our landscapes will be in the future: King tides preview how sea level rise will affect coastal places. As time goes by, the water level reached now during a king tide will be the water level reached at high tide on an average day.”

More regal tides were expected Monday and Tuesday, although not quite as high as Saturday’s stone thrower.


Written by Anonymous

What do you think?


0 Comments deleted by Administrator

Leave a Review or Comment


  1. Mother Nature doing her thing. Every so often she lets loose. It’s great. I just wish we could stop spending ungodly amounts of taxpayer money to keep the creekside ultra wealthy Montecito homeowners in their poorly-located properties. See Noozhawk article:
    Very unnatural to me to have to trap (debris basins, nets!), dig out, and truck all this earth that’s coming down from the mountains and lay it somewhere else. Talk about Carbon footprints. They’re even running street sweepers all around the Goleta beach entrance because of the mud footprints. Add insult to injury? Goleta Beach Park is closed to us until who knows when.

    • BASIC – great points. The existence of the crap they’re trucking to our beach is unnatural. Normally, it would have flowed downhill into the Cito beaches, were there no homes along the creeks. But…. don’t dare complain about it, lest you be “shamed” by non-local know it alls who condescendingly lecture us about how it’s “necessary” and actually “helpful” for our beach. I don’t know a single Goleta local who shares that sentiment.

Goleta’s Community Deputy Available to Help Businesses Prevent Burglaries

Residents Displaced in Goleta Home Fire