Gear,  Tips & Tricks

Creating the Best Tide Pooling Experience Ever!

We love tide pooling but it can be a challenge with three kids, one of whom is an overly confident toddler. Tide pooling is a two parent thing for us right now. One parent takes the big kids and one takes the toddler. Plus we are taking photos…and making sure kids are slipping or being swept out to sea. But despite the challenges, tide pooling is an awesome way to get up close to some fun creatures. So, today I’m going to share with you a few tips and products to make tide pooling as fun and easy as possible.


First thing, check the tides before you go. You can go tide pooling any time but you will see so much more if you can get further out on the rocks, where water usually is, that’s where the majority of the creatures hang out. Just google ‘whatever beach you are going to’ + ‘tides’ example: ‘Fitzgerald Marine Reserve tides’ and a few results should come up. The best low tides are negative. So keep an eye out for that. Pro tip: more negative tides occur during the winter!

When going tide pooling good shoes are a necessity, the rocks and shells and things can be sharp. I think there are two solid options for shoes when tide pooling, sandals with good grip or water proof shoes/boots/rain boots. Our kids don’t mind getting their feet wet and wear sandals that have good grip and dry easily. Erik, my husband, typically wears sandals or he wore these shoes last time and liked them a lot. I usually forget to bring good shoes after packing extra clothes and water and sweatshirts for everyone and I get stuck wearing cruddy flip-flops. I hate wearing shoes on the beach and grab flip flops…which are terrible for tide pooling, don’t be like me, bring good shoes. And I don’t think good has to mean expensive, as you can tell by most of our shoe choices (even Erik got his shoes in a Christmas sale so they weren’t that pricey either). Tennis shoes aren’t the best option, they will most likely get wet and having soggy feet is just plain not fun. Rain boots could work or waterproof hiking boots too. Good grip is the most important thing in picking a good tide pooling shoe. Ok enough about shoes…I can’t believe I just said that (I love shoes).

After checking the tides and choosing good shoes having a way to identify what you are seeing is really great. My kids received this creature identification card for Christmas. It is such a valuable tool. My kids would see something and then run and grab the card and yell ‘Mom it’s a Mossy Chiton!’ or ‘I think it looks most like a Periwinkle’. It was a great way for them to connect with what they were seeing. Plus this card is laminated and tough, perfect for my boys.

A good beach bag to carry all the gear and a blanket for Mom, Dad and resting kids to sit on is always good. We always bring along a few toys too, these are sturdy and environmentally responsible. Oh, and bring towels and a change of clothes for everyone…always, always a change of clothes. Water bottles are a must and depending on the weather, jackets, beanies or a picnic, click on the links to see what we use.

Once we get home we check pockets for stow away rocks and shells ink pockets and toss those wet, soaking clothes in the wash right away…sea salt can ruin clothes and smells nasty if it sits…trust me.

To further the boys learning and to deepen their connection to the things we saw, we research the creatures, now that we have identified them and we draw them. We use the internet, library books and books that we own, to do our research. We typically do our drawing and research in the days following our trip, not the same day as our adventure…it is usually late and we are tired when we get home. The kids are usually excited to learn more and draw what they saw. Usually. Drawing is sometimes a challenge. If it is, I will print out the pictures I took of our nature finds and they can paste them into their journal that way. It’s like a fun nature/adventure album for them to look back on that way.

I hope you have enjoyed these tips and links to the things that we use to make our tide pooling adventures fun for the whole family! Below is a list of all the links for quick access. Please share any tips or products that you use when tide pooling. Check out one of our favorite tide pooling places here! Thanks for reading.

Remember to, get up, get out and go create and adventure!

this creature identification card
beach bag
Beach ToysWater bottles

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