Pacific Northwest Tide Pool Tours are a Favorite Family Treat

Close-up of three kids examining a Kelp Crab found on a Pacific Northwest tide pool tour

Pacific Northwest tide pool tours offer a sensory feast for all ages and abilities

Return to Olympic Tidepool Tours or check out local ecotour rate information on Olympic National Park guided ecotours

Five children of various ages gather around a Pacific Northwest tide pool created on a bed of California Mussels and search for animals

Appreciating Salish Sea biodiveristy

Unlike the Atlantic Coast or Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific Coast and Salish Sea is in a sweet spot for intertidal diversity that includes sponges, sea anemones, marine worms, mollucks (chitons, limpets, marine snails, nudibraches. bivalves, octopus), barnacles, crabs, starfish (technically sea stars), urchins, sea cucumbers, tunicates, fish, and seaweed. 

More eyes are likely to spot a  tide pool prize

Your naturalist guide is a former marine biology teacher and is excited for each Pacific Northwest tide pool tour, which essentially entails careful exploration over a rocky shore during a low tide.  When a 9-year old from Iowa (who has never been to the Pacific Northwest) spies a Giant Pacific Octopus, you know that your tour rocks!

A Pacific Northwest tide pool is shown here populated with Purple Urchin and Giant Green Anemone

An orange eight-legged starfish with a purple stripe on top sits on rocks and kelp at low tide

Viewing tide pools is like organizing a walking tour

A Pacific Northwest tide pool tour is less like hiking and involves more deliberate stepping, balancing, and pausing to appreciate the biodiversity in the Srait of Juan de Fuca (which when combined with Puget Sound, creates the Salish Sea). Pacific Northwest tide pool tours have been organized for seniors by sticking to the level ground of the beach and avoiding the rocky terrain  Although this area is smaller, many very interesting animals are hiding out under seaweed and in sandy tide pools - including some large crabs. 

A grandmother holding a laminated Pacific Northwest tide pool guide looks at at very small tide pool snail that her granddaughter is holding in her outstretched hand

Close-up of a maroon and orange Pygmy Rock Crab that has a very knobby carapace and the pinchers have black tips

Pacific Northwest hiking and tidepooling

If you want a hiking tour, there are locations on the Pacific Northwest coast in Olympic National Park where you can both hike and enjoy tide pools.  If you are interested in a combination of hiking and tide pool observation, consider organizing a full-day Hoh Rainforest and Beach tour.

A large leathery black chiton with white diamond shaped plates running down the center clings to a rock covered in seaweed

Remember to leave no trace and keep it safe

If you love the marine ecosystem, consider embarking on a guided tide pool tour.  The uninitiated can be rough on delicate tide pool creatures, whereas a naturalist guide demonstrates responsible behavior that keeps Pacific Northwest tide pools in good condition for everyone to enjoy.  Read more about how to leave no trace in Olympic National Park tide pools and how to stay safe while exploring tide pools., especially if you plan on embarking on your own Pacific Northwest tide pool tour.

A large yellow and red stripped anemone with a bulbous white and red speckled bottom hangs down from a rock over a large starfish

Bring along an expert on your Pacific Northwest tide pool tour

You will walk right by some of the most amazing tide pool creatures without a marine biology guide to point out many of the small, cryptic, and camouflaged tide pool animals.  Like the art of tracking, you might only be able to view the tunnels, eggs, scat, or carapaces of certain tide pool animals.  Time and experience is required to really show you what you are seeing.

A group of five people of various ages on a mussel bed observing a Pacific Northwest tide pool with a large orange sea star

Low tides are special opportunities

Although low tides occur all year, some of the best daytime low tides in the Pacific Northwest occur from February to August.  Since Pacific Northwest tide pool tours are especially of interest to children (aged 6 and up) and young adults, this seasonal timing lines up well with spring break and summer vacation.  Not all tides are equal and not all days offer good low tides, so make sure that you contact ExperienceOlympic to check on the best day to experience tide pools during your trip to the Pacific Northwest.  People of all ages have enjoyed a guided Pacific Northwest tide pool tour so it is a great option for anyone who is drawn to Olympic National Park as a vacation destination! 

The red and purple feather duster-looking worms are feeding outside their calcareous tubes underwater