Updated for 2018
Tidepooling at Low Tide Around the South Puget Sound
Exploring the beach at low tide is one of our very favorite summer things to do with the kids.
Exploring the beach at low tide is a great, FREE thing to do with the kids.
We love to share our favorite places to go tidepooling around Tacoma and the rest of the South Puget Sound. Kids of all ages will find tidepools full of sea creatures magical places.
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. Keep reading for links to every organized event, do-it-yourself tips, beaches to try, and how to find and use the tide chart.
Where To Find Free Low Tide Events
check the schedule from the Seattle Aquarium for South King County and Seattle first events begin at the end of May.
Check Harbor WildWatch for Gig Harbor area events. They do lots of other fun events in addition to their low tide walks.
South Sound Estuary Association for the Olympia area. They offer a variety of educational opportunities for groups K-12, from exploring the beach to going out on a charter boat.
This is also an easy event to do on your own!
Just pick the right day and find a good spot!
Good Beaches To Explore At Low Tide
Good low tide beaches include Titlow in Tacoma, Owen 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.
How To Use The Tide Tables
When to go?
Head here for saltwater tides. 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.
Low Tide Exploration Tips
- 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.
- If you are visiting a beach at a state park you will need a Discover WA Pass.