We’re surrounded by water here in the South Sound, but what lies beneath it is a mystery except for a few special times during the summer when low tides meet warm weather-giving you and the kids a perfect opportunity to explore sand and sea creatures normally hidden beneath the waves.
There are several organizations around the South Sound that sponsor regular opportunities to explore area beaches at low tide with volunteer naturalists. It’s a kid friendly adventure, and they’re all Free, though you will need a Discover WA pass for any events at state parks.
North to South,
Metro Parks for Tacoma area beaches Look for events called, “Explore the shore,” or, “Tiptoe through the tidepools”
Harbor WildWatch for Gig Harbor area events Check their calendar, or their fb page. They also do night time pier peer events and regularly have touch tanks at the Skansie Farmer’s Market
South Sound Estuary Association for the Olympia area Look for, “Meet us at the beach,” They also sponsor nighttime pier peer events.
This is also an easy event to do on your own! Just pick the right day and find a good spot.
Where to head?
Good low tide beaches include Titlow in Tacoma, Owens Beach at Pt.Defiance, and the stretches near Redondo in Federal Way and Dash Point in Tacoma .Gig Harbor area readers have recommended Sunset Beach, and Kopachuck and Penrose Point. Olympia area readers recommend Tolmie for tide pool fans. I think Priest Point would probably have some excellent sand. Keep in mind if you go to a state park, you’ll need an annual or one day Discover WA pass, unless you wait until this weekend’s Free Days.
When to go?
Head here for saltwater tide tables. You’ll want to bookmark this for future reference, or it looks like there is an app. Scroll down to Puget Sound, and select the beach near you. Then scroll to the bottom to choose the date and the number of days you want to see. You do need to select something for each field, or you’ll get an error message. What you’re looking for are the minus tides. A -2 or -3 is great for low tide exploration. The time listed will be the point when the tide is at its lowest before beginning to head back in.
What else to know?
This is a messy, outdoor adventure, so dress for a beach outing and wear your sunscreen.
Take only pictures-No souvenirs on this trip, kids! It’s a fun time to bring along a disposable, waterproof camera.
Be gentle-Children should be taught to use one finger only to gently touch any critters (Yes, my big kid briefly violated this rule, and I snapped a pic of the tiny seastar before reminding him).
Return any overturned rocks and don’t otherwise alter the habitat.