A Guide to Exploring Tide Pools

Discover marine life in a combination of land and sea during your next visit to the beach.


Explore Vancouver Island’s tide pools to see for yourself what beauty emerges from this ever-changing environment. Use this guide to find out where and when tide pools form, which creatures to look for, and how to protect the local environment:

What is a tide pool & how do they form?

When the ocean retreats at low tide, seawater becomes trapped in a gathering of rocks by the shore, creating a tide pool. The boundary between land and sea is constantly changing as the tides pull in and roll out. Pools of water linger in the shallow craters by the sand, becoming home to a myriad of sea creatures and plant life. This ecosystem requires a specific level of adaptability from its inhabitants, so make sure to get a good look at what kind of life exists within these remarkable environments.

Where can I find tide pools in Parksville Qualicum Beach?

Parksville Qualicum Beach offers access to several different tide pool spots. These locations are perfect for planning a fun day out for families or even a unique date. Some of our favorites include:

1. Parksville Bay

2. Madrona Point

3. Qualicum Bay

“ Pools of water linger in the shallow craters by the sand, becoming home to a myriad of sea creatures and plant life. ” Parksville Qualicum Beach

When is the best time to explore tide pools?

A basic rule of thumb is to visit tide pools at low tide, as the water pulls back from the shore. Check out the tide charts for specifics. Exploring the ocean is a daytime activity, so keep in mind that many parks close at sunset!

What kind of creatures live there?

Dozens of animals and plants make tide pools their home. Sea stars of all sizes and colors, crabs, slugs, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, sea anemones, barnacles, and a variety of fish are just a few of the vibrant organisms you may come across on your next visit. These creatures are experts in adapting to their environment!

How should I dress?

It is never a good idea to go barefoot. Many tide pools contain slippery seaweed and sharp shells, so it’s important to protect your feet! Wear your sturdiest sports sandals, rain boots, water shoes, or any old sneakers that you wouldn’t mind getting wet.

It’s also best to wear something you can move freely in. Loose, comfortable clothing is good for climbing rocks and exploring the pools. If it’s sunny, be sure to grab your sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen.

What should I bring?

We recommend a guide book or a (water-proofed) cell phone to identify the creatures you meet. If you have children, they will love matching the pictures to what they see in real life. If you buy a guide book, make sure it is specific to Vancouver Island as certain animals native to British Columbia beaches may not inhabit other shores.

We also suggest bringing a small bag to collect trash you may create or see left behind. Marine life can be fragile and it is important to protect it from becoming entangled in any litter.

Anything else I need to know?

Be respectful to the animals and plant life and do not take any shells or creatures from the tide pools as souvenirs. It can be exciting getting to interact with marine life, but they are very sensitive to their environment. If you pick up a sea star or barnacle, make sure you put it back right where you found it! It is also important to note that if an animal has attached itself to a rock or the side of the pool, it is best to leave it there and observe from a distance. While we encourage you to gently pick up the rocks and search for life underneath, it is very important to place it right back where you found it to avoid hurting the creatures who live there. Many sea animals are creatures of habit and like to be in the same spot every day, so make sure not to move any animal far away from where you found them so they can find their way back home.

What else can my family do nearby?

After you’re done exploring the tide pools, you’ll have definitely worked up an appetite! Check out Parksville Qualicum Beach’s local restaurants and pubs or make sure to bring food and a blanket to have a picnic on the beach.

For more Parksville Qualicum Beach travel inspiration, request a copy of our Discovery Guide.

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