Tidepool Activities on the Coast of Olympic National Park

Green Sea Anemone, Photographer Shawn Sheltren
Though not a flower, the Giant Green Anemone opens its tentacles like flower petals in the tidal waters. It is surrounded by pink Coralline Algae.

Shawn Sheltren, NPS Photo

The most popular tidepools are at Kalaloch's Beach 4 and Mora's Hole in the Wall.

Second Beach, Third Beach, and Ruby Beach are also excellent places to view intertidal life in the park.

The most important aspect of tidepooling is choosing the right time. Tides at Olympic National Park change every day. Tidepools get exposed when the water is at low tide, but not all low tides are created equally. The best tidepooling is when there is a "minus tide", or a tide that is lower than normal. Some low tides may be 3 feet, which is not great for tidepooling. Aim for tides lower than 1 foot for the best tidepooling.

Tide charts for the entire Pacific Coast: Destruction Island Tides.

What Lives in Tidepools? Learn more here.

Tidepool Etiquette: Please review tidepool etiquette and safety tips if you are planning on visiting the tidepools whether participating in a a ranger-led program or on your own. Learn a few tips about Tidepool Etiquette from the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. More...


Safety in the Tidepools:

  • Watch closely for the returning tide and "sneaker waves."
  • Algae and seaweed make the surface rocks extremely slippery. Use caution and test rocks before committing to stepping on new surfaces.
  • Wear sturdy shoes that you don't mind getting wet.
  • Keep children close as rocks and waves can be unpredictable, and falling hazards may lead to severe injury.
  • Do not bring dogs onto tidal rocks as the sharp stone, along with barnacles and mussels, can cut their paws and lead to infection.
  • Do not leap from rock to rock. Always keep at least one foot on the ground.
View looking south from Hole int he Wall at James Island and Rialto Beach.
Hole in the Wall is 1.5 miles north of the Rialto Beach Trailhead. During low tides, it is an excellent location for exploring tidepools.

Mora Area

Download a Mora and Rialto Site Guide.

Special Safety Tips for Hole in the Wall:

  • Do not cross through Hole in the Wall when the tide begins to cover the floor of the arch.
  • Hole in the Wall is constantly battered by waves. Falling rocks can be a significant hazard, so avoid lengthy visits right next to and under the arch. If you hear rock falling, cover your head and move away from the arch.

Exploring Tidepools at Hole in the Wall on Your Own: Plan to arrive at Hole in the Wall at least 30 minutes before the lowest tide. Remember to include the 1.5 mile (1 hour) hike to the Hole in the Wall from the parking area at Rialto Beach.

View of Beach 4 looking North from overlook.
Flat and creviced rocks under waves surface at Beach 4 are unveiled at low tide to display a diverse population of tidepool creatures.

Shawn Sheltren, NPSPhoto

Kalaloch Area

Download a Kalaloch Site Guide.

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13 minutes, 57 seconds

As the climate changes, many early signs will appear along our ocean shorelines. This twelve minute film takes you to Olympic National Park’s wild Pacific Coast and follows marine ecologist Dr. Steve Fradkin as he studies its rocky intertidal zone.

Last updated: June 10, 2024

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