Updated for 2020
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, and the next couple of days there are going to be some crazy, awesome low tides.
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.
Note: While some beaches are definitely more popular than others at low tide, I have found that it’s pretty easy to get socially distant outside, especially on a stretch of beach where you can typically walk a bit and get away from any crowd. As always, please use your own judgement about what makes sense for your family.
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. It’s really all about going at the right day and time!
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.
On Sunday, August 2nd, there is a -2.1 at around a quarter to 11:00, and on Monday there is a -2.0 at around 11:30. I suggest you get to the beach of your choice an hour or so before the low.
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.
Where To Find Free Low Tide Events
Note from SFM: Pierce County has just entered Phase Two, but I do not when or if organized events will be held. I’ve provided links to those groups, so you can keep an eye out on them!
Low Tide Events in South King County check the schedule from the Seattle Aquarium for South King County and Seattle . They have a link to a flyer with all dates, or you can just click on the beach you would go to for events just at that location. These events are on hold as of 6/6/2020.
Low Tide Events in Tacoma In Tacoma, Look for events put on by MetroParksTacoma called, “Explore the shore,” or, “Tiptoe through the tidepools” Explore the Shore is at Owen Beach at Point Defiance, and Tiptoe through the tide pools is at Titlow Beach. You can also use the Metro Parks Tacoma calendar.
I do see listed dates for Explore the Shore, but I’m not totally sure if these are, “On,” or not. I will try to find out.
Low Tide Events in Gig Harbor Check Harbor WildWatch for Gig Harbor area events. They do lots of other fun events in addition to their low tide walks.
Low Tide Events in Olympia South Sound Estuary Association for the Olympia area. As of this writing, I am having trouble with their website, but you’re looking for the, “Meet you at the beach,” events. They are typically at Tolmie, Burfoot, and Priest Point.