It's time to be still and explore the miniature world of tide pools on the Olympic Peninsula's Pacific coastal and Strait of Juan de Fuca beaches. As breezes blow away the morning mist, you’ll discover dozens of fascinating tide pools with sea stars and urchins and other critters scurrying about.
Constantly shaped and re-shaped by the actions of sun, wind, water, and rock, tide pools are a distinctive and somewhat harsh habitat where the ocean water meets the land. Life is tough for plants and animals that live in tide pools. The sun bears down. Wind and water continually pound at the rocks. Nevertheless, the rugged Olympic Peninsula coastline teems with life! Sea stars, barnacles, urchins, anemones, tubeworms, piddock clams and sea snails thrive in these little pools -- and one square foot may support thousands of these tenacious little sea creatures.
Before you go. Did you know that tiny tide pools are actually divided into four zones? Children seem to find these mini-worlds captivating, so if you want to learn more before you go about these little sea critters, EnchantedLearning.com is a link that describes a variety of species, explains splash zones, high-, mid-, and low-tide zones, and explains how the denizens of this angle-deep world survive in their hostel habitat. Another great site for children is Secrets of the Tide Pools. And when you visit our tidal areas, be sure to respect the critters' home and practice tide pool etiquette. Remember the Makah Trabal saying, Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.
How to get to where the sea critters live. From Strait of Juan de Fuca beaches to Washington's Pacific coastline, are hundreds of miles of beaches offer endless tide pooling possibilities. Here are a few highlights:
- Salt Creek Recreation area. Take US Hwy. 101 west to the turn off onto SR 112 (designated a National Scenic Byway in 2000.) After 5.2 miles, turn right onto Camp Hayden Road and dive for 3.4 miles to end at the 196-acre Salt Creek County Park and Campground. In addition to endless rocky tidal pools, you'll find a County Park, with 90 campsites, sandy beaches, a playground and play fields and hiking trails to Striped Peak. And you can wander around the original bunkers that were once part of Fort Hayden during World War II. Nearby Crescent Bay (watch for the signs) offers more beach fun. The park is adjacent to Tongue Point Marine Life Sanctuary. Tongue Point is noted as being the eastern-most located habitat example of open rock coast intertidal habitat in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
- Clallam Bay Park and Slip Point. Take US Hwy. 101 west to the turn off onto SR 112. Continue on SR 112 to Clallam Bay. Slip Point is an outdoor aquarium where our can examine tide pool animals and sealife, under the watchful eye of the historic lighthouse residence.
- Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. This unique sanctuary forms the western edge of the Olympic Peninsula. The sanctuary shares 65 miles of coastline with Olympic National Park, and has a total area of over 3,300 square miles.
- To thoroughly enjoy tide pooling in such a vast area, a great place to begin is to visit the Olympic Coast Discovery Center, located on the Port Angeles Waterfront.
Salt Creek Recreation Area 3506 Camp Hayden Road Port Angeles
Clallam County Parks Fair and Facilities Division Port Angeles
Clallam Bay–Sekiu Chamber of Commerce, Clallam Bay
360-963-2339 or toll free 877-694-9433
Tongue Point Marine Life Sanctuary Clallam Bay
Olympic Coast Discovery Center
115 Railroad Ave. East, Suite 301 Port Angeles