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Where and when to find tide pools in Seattle

Early summer’s a good time for splashing around + discovering maritime marvels.

Washed up seaweed and two starfish are stranded on the sand at a local beach. One of the starfish is bright purple with speckles of raised white bumps. The other, smaller starfish is a reddish-pink hue with a dark brown speckled pattern.

These sea stars were found just out at Constellation Park.

Photo by @austinaumell

Call us nerdy (we know what we are), but tide pool gazing is right at the top of our summer bucket list.

Tide pools are fascinating phenomena formed as waters recede from the shoreline during low tides. As the water goes out, sea critters get trapped in the pools formed in the nooks of rocks and beach debris — making these areas excellent spots for observing microcosms of marine wildlife with crabs, sea stars, anemones, and more.

But because tide pools require specific conditions, they also require a bit of planning.

Changing with the tide 🦀

You’re going to want to line your trip up with at least one of the two low tides of the day by checking the NOAA’s tide predictor chart. However, a low tide doesn’t necessarily mean the water has receded enough to create the pools. Keep an eye out on those charts for negative heightsthat’s the sweet spot.

Lunar patterns are something else to keep in mind. During new moons, the sun and the moon line up and combine their gravitational power (after a sick high-five, of course), pulling the ocean towards them. This means the tide height differential is a lot greater, making the water recede further for some stellar tidepooling action.

Where to go 🦀

Constellation Park | West Seattle | During notably low tides, the beach turns into a field of sandy pockets where crabs and moon snails like to hang out.

Discovery Park | Magnolia | Take in this park’s meadows and dramatic cliffs on your way to its two miles of protected tidal beaches.

Golden Gardens | Ballard | The rocky areas on the corners of the beach are going to be where you want to hang out during low tides.

Rialto Beach | Olympic Peninsula | If you’re in the mood for a day or weekend trip, this spot is considered one of Washington’s best for tide pools. Just note that this will require a bit of a hike and a four-hour drive.

Good to know 🦀

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