Metta on Bishop Beach in Homer
Life as an earthnomad

Is tidepooling just for kids?

Yesterday we went tidepooling. Not growing up by the ocean, I had never heard of the term before. But I’m quite sure that we have discovered a new hobby.

Going to the beach has always been a sandy and wet affair, with lots of work involved for mom and dad. Dad in our family does not nearly get bothered by the work as much, though he takes his fair share. The need to pack towels, swimsuits, dry clothes and lots of snacks (oh the snacks) and then lug more than one can reasonably carry. All while burning feet that have lost those cute flip flops long before we even get half way across the beach.

Then it takes a professional multitasker (aka mom) to keep track of who has been sunscreened how long ago with a continuous awareness if everyone is still safe. While being overly self-conscious in a bathing suit that does not match up with the other beach bikinis around. No, summer beach visits are not my thing.

Cool weather beaches

What a revelation to discover beaches when the sun does not melt a popsicle before you’ve eaten even half of it. Beaches in Spain during the winter, when they are empty but still so much fun to play at. For kids temperature is no issue, as long as you are dressed for it. This is a great time to build those sandcastles, collect shells and pretty shiny rocks.

In Alaska this summer we are experiencing exactly the same. Cool weather for the most part, and we are lucky when it is clear and we have a view. The view on the mountains across the bay is stunning and we can stroll and watch all day. Rocks are available in every size. The children collect them, especially if they sparkle. Or you can make pretty stacks and see how they hold up.


When we were in Homer a few weeks ago, a new friend told us how tidepooling is a favorite way to experience Bishop Beach. Although we explored the shore, we were not there at the right time to be able to check out the little pools.  This time around we checked tide charts in advance and made a plan.

Finn on Bishop Beach in Homer

Once we were at the beach, the tide was pretty low but still had a couple of hours to go. We all had boots on, since it was not a warm day. The kids splashed around getting soaking wet up to their belly buttons. At first sight not much was visible in the little pool that we inspected a bit more closely. But when we started gently removing rocks there was an astonishing amount of life.

Better prepared we would have seen a lot more, of that I am sure. But just the experience of roaming the waterline so low-key, to dig in the sand and enjoy new discoveries is so freeing. It is so easy to get carried away with the adult responsibilities that life throws at you, that it is easy to move away from the curiosity you had as a child. That is such a shame. To look at the world through a child’s eye, makes you see the world in a fresh way, giving you all those wondrous feelings of excitement.

Tidepooling was a reminder for me to take the pressure off and just enjoy what you see, instead of always looking for what you would expect to see. When you drop the expectations, life all of a sudden brightens up. Are you up for a challenge? Can you let go of your expectations and freely experience?

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  • Debra Yearwood

    Several years ago my husband introduced me to tidepooling. I love the beach, but not to sit in the sun and often I don’t even go into the water. I like walking up and down the shoreline seeing what I can find, so imagine my pleasure when my husband showed me that there was so much more to discover than shells. I really like your summary of the power of tidepooling, “…take the pressure off and just enjoy what you see, instead of always looking for what you would expect to see.”

    It’s like a shortcut to being present in the moment. No pressure, just experience.

  • Phoenicia Oyeniyi

    This is the first I am hearing of tidepooling – where have I been?

    Usually our trips to the beaches in the UK are just as you have described. Picnic, swimwear, blankets, bucket and spade, towels, suncream, insect repellent, did I mention suncream?

    We have a wonderful time but the sand really does get everywhere. I now know to use baby powder for easily removing sand from parts of your body. We tend to avoid busy and popular beaches and seek out those more remote with less hustle and bustle, one hut for refreshments, lots of places to sit and watch your children.

  • Jeannette Paladino

    I hadn’t heard of tidepooling and I’m still not sure I understand what it is. I, too, love your comment about being open to what you see and not what you expect to see. It is like walking down the same street day after day and not noticing a store is gone long after it has closed. You expect it to be there. That’s what I love about the stacks in the library. I may have gone looking for a particular book and then find myself picking out a book randomly and reading it for pleasure.

  • Marquita Herald

    I’ve lived near the ocean my whole life so I’m familiar with the joy of exploring tide pools and we often camp at the beach for this reason. In fact, until recently I lived in Maui and the areas where ancient lava flows reach into the ocean feature some of the most amazing tide pools I’ve ever seen. As to your point about expectations, I absolutely agree! In fact, my favorite vacations have always been unplanned road trips where I just picked a direction and then made an adventure of experiencing all that I could along the way.

  • Catarina

    I grew up by the sea but this is the first time I come across the word tidepooling. Probably because in Sweden there is not such a huge difference when the tide goes in and out. And also because we speak Swedish. Checked online dictionaries and there doesn’t seem to be a Swedish word for it. When I lived in London it could have been applied to the river Thames due to how the tide affects it, but the English didn’t use the word tidepooling either. Maybe it’s an Alaskan phenomena?

  • Mina Joshi

    I hadn’t heard of tidepooling before but like the idea of walking along the beach looking for nature’s wonder. I love walking along the promenade and finding a tea shop to relax and watch the world go by as I enjoy my tea.

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