Tide Pooling

Grandma's Cove on a sunny day.
Grandma's Cove is the best place for tide pooling on San Juan Island.


Grandma's Cove is the best place on the island for tidepooling. While exploring the shoreline, you might see anemones, tide pool sculpin, mussels, shore crabs, barnacles, and a variety of seaweeds. Visitors often find sea glass too! The best time to see these marvels of nature is at low tide, so check a tide predictions chart when planning your visit. Please read the following guidelines that will keep you and the animals safe.

Animal Safety Guidelines:

  • A general guideline is to only touch animals as gently as you would touch your own eyeball. For example, anemones should not be poked or squeezed.

  • No organism attached to a surface should be removed by force, however slight. Many animals, such as limpets, chitons, barnacles, mussels, sea stars, and urchins are attached directly to rocks (permanently or temporarily) and using force to remove them would be harmful to them.

  • Animals that are actively swimming, moving away from people, hiding under rocks, or that resist being handled, should not be pursued or picked up.

  • Rocks should not be moved and should be left in their original location and orientation. Organisms living under the rocks have adapted to a certain environment, and rock-turning can harm them.

  • Nothing, especially rocks, should be thrown in any area of the park. Rocks can do great damage when they land in the water, and continue to do damage as they are tossed by wave action.

  • The following should not be introduced into the tidepool area: Containers (such as buckets or cups); nets, scraping, probing, or prying instruments (such as spatulas, trowels, knives, screwdrivers or sticks)

Keeping Yourself Safe:

  • 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. 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.

Colorful aneome found at Grandma's Cove.
Many different colors of Anemones can be found in the tide pools at Grandma's Cove.



Last updated: October 2, 2023

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 429
Friday Harbor, WA 98250


360 378-2240

Contact Us