best tidepooling beaches of the Olympic Peninsula

If you’re fascinated by weird and colorful sea life, you’re going to love exploring the tide pools of the Pacific Northwest. Not every beach is equal, however, and some offer far better tidepooling opportunities than others.

Is there anything more fascinating than a tide pool teeming with weird and colorful sea life? Mussels, urchins, crabs, anemones, sea stars, chitons, and so much more. Tide pools offer a rare glimpse into to another world that is usually hidden beneath the waves.

Washington state is home to some of the best tide pools in the country, and all are within easy reach of Manitou Lodge. Before you rush right out on your tidepooling adventures, however, there are a few things to consider.

Tide Pool Safety and Etiquette

First and foremost, tide pools and their inhabitants are rare and fragile. The ocean may seem vast and its resources inexhaustible but, in reality, that more describes humanity’s often unintentional negative effect on the natural world.

When tidepooling, please remember to respect the living environment and live animals you’re looking at. It can be okay to touch some creatures but please be careful and never pry or capture an animal.

Similarly, while shells and driftwood are tempting to collect, if everyone who visited took something home, soon nothing would be left. Please appreciate nature in its place.

Secondly – and this is true of any beach explorations you plan, anywhere – check the weather and tide tables before heading out. Several beach areas are only passable at lower tides and you don’t want to get trapped. Plan to arrive at the beach at least 30 minutes before the lowest tide.

Finally, watch your step. Rocks can be slick and sharp and sneaker waves can seemingly come from out of nowhere. It’s tempting to go barefoot when on a beach but, when it comes to tidepooling, it’s almost always safer for your feet to wear shoes of some kind.

Now let’s go to the beach!

sea stars in a tide pool

Rialto Beach

Rialto Beach is one of the most popular beaches on the Olympic Peninsula and just 3 miles from Manitou Lodge.

The beach is well known for its stunning sunsets, heavy driftwood, and colorful tide pools. It is also home to the iconic Hole-in-the-Wall formation. Park in the Rialto Beach parking lot and hike down the beach towards the sea stacks and Hole-in-the-Wall. Here you’ll find tide pools with unique orange and purple sea stars, whelks, nudibranches, chitons, limpets, and many others.

LaPush Beaches

LaPush area beaches – First, Second, and Third Beach, respectively – are just south of Rialto Beach and, thus, also within easy driving distance of our Olympic National Park lodging.

All the beaches have rugged sea stacks and myriad tide pools to explore, along with amazing sunsets and frequent whale sightings.

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach is around 50 minutes south of Manitou Lodge on US Hwy 101.

This beach is easily one of the most accessible and popular beaches on the Olympic Peninsula. It’s also home to some very impressive sea stacks and excellent tidepooling. You’ll see mussels and barnacles, wolf eels, small crabs, brittle stars, and maybe even the otters of nearby Abbey Island.

Beach 4 at Kalaloch

Kalaloch’s Beach 4 is farthest from Manitou Lodge, around another 20 minutes south of Ruby Beach on 101 and also easily accessed from the highway.

Beach 4’s inter-tidal zone offers even more tidepooling. The sediment layered bluffs along the beach also offer a fascinating glimpse into the area’s geological history.

anemone found while tidepooling

Tongue Point at Salt Creek

Salt Creek is in the opposite direction of the other beaches on our list. It is located northeast of the Forks area and just west of Port Angeles on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Tongue Point juts out into the Strait at Salt Creek and is home to the Tongue Point Marine Life Sanctuary. Tongue Point’s interconnected tide pools are unlike those of most other beaches. When exposed, the large, inter-tidal habitat reveals a few thousand square feet of marine life all at once. Salt Creek is famous among marine biologists as well as tourists. Many consider it to offer the best tidepooling in the state.

Best Olympic Peninsula Tidepooling Beaches

Learn more about Olympic Peninsula tidepooling on the Olympic National Park website.

Manitou Lodge’s Forks area location makes exploring Olympic National Park a snap. Let us know what things you’d like to do or see and we’ll get you pointed in the right direction.

See you soon!