There are few things more fun than heading out to find the best tide pools and discovering all PNW sea life in their natural habitat. Washington has more than 50 state parks with saltwater beaches, all ideal spots for tide pool exploration. Seattle area beaches are also filled with tide pools and aquatic wildlife.
Grab your bucket, shovel, pull on some rain boots and head out to some of our favorite locations for the best tide pools in the PNW region. We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite areas to explore tide pools along with tips to make the most of your sea adventures. Make sure to check the tide pool tables before heading out! For best viewing, time your visit for an hour before low tide.
Golden Gardens is a popular spot for all beach activities and an amazing area to explore tide pools. Head out on low tide toward the north end of the beach for the best opportunity to spot marine wildlife. Peek under rocks and in the shallow waters to find starfish, sea urchins and crabs. This tide pool area is stellar due to its "close in proximity" which means you can pop in for a quick tide pool experience.
This quieter beach in West Seattle also offers great opportunities to look for sea anemones, marine worms and more in the pools. This stretch of shoreline just south of the Lighthouse at Alki Point provides plenty of watery shallows on the rocky beach. Look for the old pipeline at low tide to find sea stars and moon snails snuggled up.
Located on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Salt Creek Recreation area is a gorgeous tide pool area and has been deemed world famous by many a marine biologist. This area is unique in that the tide pool region is all connected. Tongue Point Marine Sanctuary at Salt Creek is one long continuous tidal pool area which creates an ideal environment when rocky bluffs and rocks meet sand. Visitors will be able to spot starfish, sea anemones, mussels, crabs, barnacles and more in this protected intertidal marine area at low tide.
This dog-friendly beach is a tide pool haven with a large off-leash dog park. The beach near Fort Casey on the west side of the island has great tide pools featuring baby fish, kelp, mollusks and arthropods. The miles of shoreline provide room to spread out and find your own tide pool to curiously explore. The massive amount of driftwood on the beach is ideal for building a fun beach fort.
The tide pools at Saltwater State Park are enhanced with an artificial underwater reef and a creek that runs out to the sea. This location is very popular so take the time to wander a bit for a less crowded area. The rocky shoreline is vast and provides a great location to spot tidal pool inhabitants.
Ruby Beach’s tide pools are easily accessible and popular. Abbey Island sits at the mouth of Cedar Creek and provide a hospitable environment for tide pools among the rocks and sea stacks. Be warned! The tide pools are quite sharp in this area so walking barefoot is not advised. Visitors will be excited to see mussels, barnacles, green sea anemones and starfish and the lucky ones will catch glimpses of otters.
Snag a quick ferry ride to Vashon Island to explore the tide pools at Point Robinson Beach. This beach has both sandy and rocky tide pools which provide a variety of pools to check out. Check out the lighthouse and trails for a great afternoon of exploration.
Tide Pool Tips
Taking time to prepare for your tide pool adventure will guarantee a more enjoyable time for all. Bring along rain boots or water shoes for traipsing through the water. Make sure to leave a change of clothing in the car along with some hand sanitizer to clean up afterwards. A sun hat and sunscreen are also recommended. Check out the Seattle Aquarium Beach Naturalist program schedule and head to a beach when they are out and about! Also tread lightly around tide pools as most animals are very delicate. Use a gentle two-fingered touch should you decide to feel any of the sea life.