Discover the amazing natural world of tide pooling on Oregon’s Adventure Coast: Coos Bay, North Bend, Charleston
“Wait until low tide and walk out to the tide pools bursting with life, from giant green anemone to sea stars and tiny crabs. The rock formations are carved into strange, alien shapes, evoking a truly primordial feeling. The rocks can be extremely slippery, as much of the area is covered in sea moss, which can make them a little tricky to cross. But the secrets found within are well worth the adventure.” - Sunset Bay is a pocket of wild beauty on the southern Oregon coast.
What do limpets, sea slugs, snails, chitons, starfish, urchins, sea cucumbers and barnacles all have in common? They are examples of marine life that can be found alive in tide pools all along Oregon’s Adventure Coast: Coos Bay, North Bend, Charleston. Tide pooling is the perfect example of an outdoor activity that can be enjoyed by just about anyone of any age at any time of the year. You don’t need special equipment, nor do you need special skills. All you need is a good pair of walking shoes, a warm jacket (in case it’s chilly), a keen eye, and an idea of where to look. If you’re wondering where are the best places to take your family tide pooling on Oregon’s Adventure Coast, keep reading!
For clarity, let’s begin by defining what a tide pool is. Tide pools are shallow pools of water that form when the ocean tide retreats and leaves seawater trapped in hollow formations in the sand or around rocks near the shore. Tide pools are sometimes filled with colorful, mysterious marine life and ecosystems that can be explored during low tide when the tide pools are exposed and accessible.
Tide pooling is especially popular on the Oregon Coast because they are considered some of the most bio diverse habitats and ecosystems on the planet. This is especially true on Oregon’s Adventure Coast: Coos Bay, North Bend, Charleston thanks to our rugged topography, sandy shores, bays and estuaries, isolated coves, sea caves, extensive sand dunes and the open Pacific. So if you’re looking for a grand tide pooling adventure with friends and/or family, you couldn’t find a better place.
Please remember to treat the area with care. These are living plants and animals in their natural environment.
#1 WHEN TO GO
Tide pooling can be enjoyed any time of the year, but the time of day is important. According to Morris Grover, an expert in Oregon Coast marine life, “The best time to go tide pooling is one to two hours before the low tide,” he said in an interview for Oregon Coast Beach Connection. “That gives you plenty of time to explore before the tide starts coming back in. The tide doesn’t stop at low tide - it immediately starts coming back in for the high tide.”
Find out what times it will be high tide and low tide on Oregon’s Adventure Coast by visiting https://tides4fishing.com/us/oregon/coos-bay and/or www.tideschart.com for an easy-to-use tide chart specific to our area.
#2 WHERE TO GO
“The best places to send our coastal visitors looking for tide pools are the state parks, especially those with kids,” says Seaside Aquarium’s Tiffany Boothe, to Oregon Coast Beach Connection. “State Parks are easier to access, safer, and visited more frequently. This is a plus, not a minus. The more people around, the more likely you and your family can get help if needed. And most importantly, they’re the most beautiful.”
Cape Arago State Park
Tucked away below the cliffs, a short walk along the steep trails will take you to a secluded cove where tide-pools and fossils can be found on Cape Arago Beach. Visitors can also enjoy whale watching, fishing, and scuba diving. Two trails can be found here for excellent hiking opportunities; the south trail leads to pool sides full of sea life, and the *north trail lets visitors view offshore colonies of seals and sea lions.
“This sister park to Shore Acres (THE local MUST VISIT) boasts a spectacular seal and sea lion preserve and a fantastic beach-comber setting. At low tides, the rocky pools are overflowing with a wide variety of spectacular sea life. Children should be closely watched and sure footed.” - TripAdvisor
*The north trail is closed from March - June to protect the seal pups during birthing season. Picnic benches and restrooms are available.
Click here to learn more. Cape Arago Hwy Loop Charleston, OR 97420
A winding path leads you from Shore Acres State Park to a secluded ocean cove directly below. Those who find their way to this “secret beach” are treated to glorious tide pools, along with wonderful views of wildlife. Please do not bother the seal pups you may find on the beach. They are not lost, only waiting for mom to return. Learn more. 89814 Cape Arago Hwy Charleston, OR 97420
Sunset Bay State Park
A favorite among locals and tourists, Sunset Bay State Park is protected by towering sea cliffs and features beautiful sandy beaches, amazing tide pools, picnic facilities, restrooms, and campgrounds. Beach goers will find easy access for beach combing, bird watching, swimming, and boating. Learn more. 89814 Cape Arago Highway Charleston, OR 97420
#3 HOW TO STAY SAFE
- Always go during low tide.
-Stay Alert - Never Turn Your Back to the Ocean! We all love the Oregon Coast, but visitors should always be alert and aware of coastal safety hazards with the potential danger of undertows, sneaker waves and rolling logs - no matter what. Click here for Beach Safety Tips.
- Wear comfortable shoes with grip. Please, do not ever go barefoot. You never know what sharp surfaces and potentially harmful objects your feet may encounter. Bring shoes with grip to ensure you’ll keep your footing as you make your way down paths to the beach, and to keep your feet safe.
- Watch where you step. It can get slippery out there, especially along the rocks!
#4- TIDE POOL ETIQUETTE
It is up to us to be good stewards of the land. When visiting natural areas like the Oregon Coast, we ask you to take special care and follow these seven “Leave No Trace” principles. If you see wildlife (like baby seal pups), please appreciate it from afar and do not attempt to touch or interact with them - it is after all, their home.
-Do not remove attached organisms. It could damage the organism and potentially destroy the ecosystem. Take photos, not souvenirs!
-Wet your finger before gently touching any creatures in the tide pool.
-Put EVERYTHING back the way you found it. Do not leave rocks overturned. Rocks are a crucial part of the ecosystem of many organisms you’ll see when tide-pooling. Leaving rocks overturned could expose the animals to danger and damage the ecosystem
Ready to plan an adventure you and your family will remember for years to come? We’re here to help! There is plenty of space to spread out and socially distance! Contact Oregon’s Adventure Coast with any questions you may have about things to do on your vacation! Download our Visitor Guide (PDF).
Editor’s Note: As the developments in Coronavirus (COVID-19) continue to unfold, please follow the direction of our public health authorities, including the CDC, Oregon Health Authority, and Coos Health & Wellness, to protect yourself, our community and our visitors.
Face coverings are mandatory for all when inside a public space AND outdoors when 6 ft distancing cannot be maintained.
If you are ready to travel, we are ready to welcome you back to Oregon’s Adventure Coast. However, if you are feeling ill or not comfortable traveling right now, we encourage you to stay home and stay healthy. Let’s all do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Please visit https://ecs.page.link/xhV4h for more information.