The best tide pool beaches in the US

Stef Zisovska

Tide or rocky pools are pools formed during high tide and exist as separate pools only at low tide. Basically, they are holes in the rocky cliffs filled with sea water. Tide pools are perfect homes for many marine animals and creatures.

Many of them can’t be seen with our eyes. The shallow parts of the cliffs suffer attacks from the ocean storms and high tides. In other conditions, these same pools are exposed to too much sun and strong winds. Not too many organisms can survive this severe weather changes. The ones who are doing it the best are lichens and barnacles.

Tide pools
Tide pools

Tide pools are divided into a high and low zone. The high tide zone gets flooded during each high tide. In these areas, you can find sea algae, as well as starfish, sea anemones, chitons, crabs, and mussels. Marine algae make a perfect shelter for the small organisms and the hermit crabs.

The low tide zone is usually submerged and is only visible when the tide is very low. This zone is richer in biodiversity and has more seaweed and organism that live here. The organisms living in the low tide zone don’t need to adapt to the drying cycles and also don’t suffer strong ocean actions. Here you can see abalone, anemones, brown seaweed, chitons, crabs, green algae, hydroids, isopods, limpets, and mussels. The most beautiful creature living in the tide pools is the starfish.

Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, California

Tide pools in Santa Cruz (Natural Bridges State Park) from spray/splash zone to low tide zone – Author: Brocken Inaglory – CC BY-SA 3.0
Tide pools in Santa Cruz (Natural Bridges State Park) from spray/splash zone to low tide zone – Author: Brocken Inaglory – CC BY-SA 3.0

Moss Beach, California is a hidden stretch of sand 30 miles south of San Francisco. The area is abundant with sea life, and there are lots of things to see from all kinds of critters to seals and humpback whales. The volunteers of Fitzgerald Marine Reserve are always there to explain visitors what are they seeing.

Shi Shi Beach, Washington

Shi Shi Beach is a 2-mile beach situated inside Olympic National Park in Washington. This the best tide pooling spot to be found in the United States. Just name a critter and you’ll find it here. The sea has carved this coast and created numerous tide pools that thrive with life. Among the most famous inhabitants of Shi Shi are starfish, razor clams, limpets, chitons, hermit crabs and sea cucumbers.

First Encounter Beach, Massachusetts

Crab hole
Crab hole

The beach is located near Eastham, Massachusettes. Its name comes from a historic encounter between the Pilgrims and Native Americans. Today, this spot is a perfect place to find tide pools and observe the diverse marine life living in them. Tiny fiddler crabs are the most numerous residents here. If you spot breathing holes with a diameter of a straw, know that there are crabs below.

Hunting Island State Park, South Carolina

Keyhole Sand Dollar – Author: Sharon Mooney – CC BY-SA 3.0
Keyhole Sand Dollar – Author: Sharon Mooney – CC BY-SA 3.0

This southeast beach is a very popular place for collecting sand dollars. Also, here you can find white shrimps, hermit crabs, blue crabs, spot-tail bass and diamondback terrapins. Most visitors make a day trip from Beaufort, which is 16 miles away. Sometimes an American alligator can be seen in the area, which is a special surprise for the tourists.

Tide pools are a perfect gift of nature that allows us to explore closely the sea life. If you live near some of these areas, enjoy observing the critters living in your neighborhood. If you have never visited any tide pool, now is the time to do it. Enjoy the marine life of these majestic pools.

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stef-zisovska is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival