Maybe we’re a bit nerdy (okay, we definitely are), but tide pool gazing is right at the top of our summer bucket list.
Before you call us total weirdos, though, 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 that form in the rocks — making these areas excellent spots for oohing and ahhing at marine wildlife like crabs, sea stars + anemones.
But because tide pools require specific conditions, they require a bit of planning.
Changing with the tide 🦀
You’re going to want to line your trip up at least with one of the two low tides of the day by checking the NOAA’s tide predictor chart. But just because it’s a low tide, it doesn’t mean the water has receded enough to create the pools. Keep an eye out on those charts for negative heights. That’s the sweet spot.
And something 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 and that water will recede more. These are usually good days for tide pool hunting.
Where to go 🦀
Constellation Park | West Seattle | During notably low tides, the beach turns into a field of nooks and crannies where crabs and moon snails like to hang out.
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, Rialto Beach is considered one of the best spots in our state for tide pools. Just note that this will require a bit of a hike and a four-hour drive.
Good to know 🦀
- If you want some assistance identifying all of the types of critters and algae, head to one of the Seattle Aquarium’s Beach Naturalist guided events. Or sign-up to be a volunteer.
- The Seattle Aquarium also has a printable identification guide.
- Read up on tide pool etiquette before you go on an excursion — and note that touching the animals or moving their habitat around can hurt or kill them.