Asilomar State Beach – tide pools

The one thing I was REALLY excited about along the coast was visiting tide pools. I feel like I know quite a bit about mammals, I can identify the vast majority of things that live on land but the ocean is another story. It’s a mystery to me, and for that reason I am beyond intrigued by it. I’m not landlocked in Ohio. I’m less than a mile from Lake Erie, but like I’ve mentioned more than a few times we don’t have cool things living in the lake. We have some fish, I guess, but in all the time I spend wandering the beaches I really just find trash. So tide pools were my priority on this trip!

I did a bit of research on tides and the best places to go along the coast; one name I kept seeing listed was Asilomar State Beach. As luck would have it the timing worked out so that we’d be pretty close to there around low tide.

I couldn’t get out of the car, and down to the water to rip my shoes off fast enough. We were in what I thought was the perfect spot to find things. It was rocky, and the tide was low but it was actually too low. Everything that I was finding wasn’t covered by water and really just looked kind of gross. It was exciting but a little bit of a let down since I had hyped tide pooling up so much in my mind. I thought it would be this activity I would just go crazy for and instead I was just like “Oh, that’s cool but it looks disgusting…” I poked around trying to find these vibrant, lively looking anemones that I thought the area would be full of but eventually gave up deciding maybe tide pooling isn’t as easy as photos make it look and it wouldn’t be something I’d get to experience on this trip.

We eventually got back in the car, and moved on down the road a bit hoping for better luck. Jeff could tell I was bumming and was insisting we keep on looking despite the fact I was just ready to get to our next destination. I was disappointed (read – crabby) that everything I was finding was either dead, wouldn’t let me near it, or like at the last spot, gross looking because it wasn’t under water. I was shooting the little dude above when Jeff shouted “Kaylah! Get over here!” I was all “Don’t yell me! Gosh!” I walked over to where he was to spot this insanely beautiful starfish. I let out my squeal of approval to which Jeff gloated “Is it okay I yelled at you about that?!”

This was my very fist time seeing a starfish in the wild, not in an aquarium, and excuse me if I sound dramatic but it was magical. It’s so crazy that that’s a real living thing. Nature is wild, y’all! From there things picked up. The starfish was definitely the highlight but I also finally found some anemones who were actually under water and they were every bit as beautiful as I had imagined.

The tide came in a lot quicker than I had hoped and it was time for us to move on so I didn’t get to spend as much time as I wanted checking out the tide pools. Moral of the story here I guess is that tide pooling is all about timing but when you get it right the reward is so great!

This really, truly sparked a love! I’m already researching hot spots to check out along the Washington and Oregon coast (hopefully we’ll get there sometime in the next year or so). I am dying to get back and immerse myself in this world of critters I know so very little about. I feel like I just got this tiny taste of what’s like and I want to learn so much more.

You can find more posts from our road trip under the “travel” tag. 

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  • Tide pools were my favorite thing about visiting Maine. My father kept taking us to more and more secluded places each year. So I remember spending time just looking at the pools and all the tiny invertebrates. I use to know all the different names, but there animals were totally different, never saw a big starfish or sea anemones. They were mostly things with shells.

    • Hmm! Interesting! We have a friend in Maine so I had already been scouting out tide pools up there in case we visited. So neat how is such a difference in the things found in them from coast to coast.

  • I am so glad that you had a good experience after all. We live about 45 minutes from Monterey and it is our favorite place…and our favorite activity- tide pooling. We have been there hundreds of times and it is always different. One time there were hundreds of huge squid washed up….it was both really cool and kind of gross.We recently went out on a whale watching boat for the first time. It was AMAZING! Just off the coast there is a underwater canyon where the whales feed. We saw lots of dolphins, humpbacks and other marine animals..So very cool, and not terribly expensive.

    • AHHH. I would DIE if I saw a squid. That's so awesome.

      So many people have been talking about whale watching recently, it's really piqued my interest. I hope I get a chance to do that someday in the not too distant future.

  • These pics are gorgeous! I've never seen a red starfish in person, just the tan ones, but I agree – they're magical! Your posts make me want to go on all the roadtrips ever!

    • I still can't get over how bright that starfish was. I've never seen anything in nature SO vibrant.

      Good! I hope it inspires you to get out and travel! Nothing better than a roadtrip! 😀

  • How neat you got to come to my area! Lover's Point just had a big sewage spill last month, so that could have affected a lot of the ocean life in that area.

    • That's interesting. I never considered something like that could have been the issue, just assumed I was there at the wrong time.

  • I am not jealous of things people possess but I am jealous/envious of your trip to the coast. I have no interest in anything other than the ocean and mostly tide pools. I would be like a little kid squealing with delight. Can you touch anything in there or will they bite or sting ya? I like when the starfish all gang together in a group. Too cute! I used to write to a girl in Oregon and she went out rescuing starfish on a daily basis. Did you see any tracks from starfish going back to the ocean? That is so cool. I didn't know they had about a jillion little legs (?) Are they legs I wonder? Glad you had so much fun and I am so happy you are sharing your photos here. That will have to do until I can see it for myself. One of your pals here mentioned purple sand and I immediately went to ebay and got some from a teacher who collects it from every beach she goes to for her pupils. GUESS WHAT, IT REALLY IS PURPLE. 🙂

    • I'm not sure. I'm not too hip to things that live in the ocean. I'm tried to keep my fingers away from the anemones and stuff just because I presumed they wouldn't like being poked. But I definitely picked up the starfish. It felt SO much different than I had imagined. I thought it'd be squishy but it a hard shell type feeling on top.

      That's awesome! I'd really love to see a beach with purple sand in person!

    • I can't imagine how exciting it had to be as a kid to play in tide pools.

      I know I have a childlike appreciation of nature but I would just love to see actual kids get excited about this stuff. It broke my heart that my nephew and nieces weren't there with me. They would have just lost their minds.

  • I love how bright the starfish is! Beautiful find.

    Been enjoying to have a look through your 'found on the beach' posts too! I wrote about something similar a few years ago ( – found a bunch of things around my village and on the train route that people had just abandoned (including, most bizarrely, a grand piano… still wondering what the story is behind that.)


    • Ah! Love that post so much. The things people leave behind certainly are interesting. That's so much of what I love about abandoned buildings.

    • Part of me wants be like "GROSS AMANDA! Go to the doctors"

      But then the other half TOTALLY agrees. They remind me of pig vulvas, that was my first thought when I saw them.

  • In your research did you discover anything about the glass beach in Fort Bragg? It used to be a garbage dump so now the beach is completely covered in beach glass and the rocks all have weird objects embedded in them. I think you would love it!

  • A couple years ago we went to Olympic National Park in Washington. The best tidal pooling we found was near the Kalaloch Lodge at Beach 4 and Ruby Beach. The weather was miserable but we still saw a bunch of starfish and other creatures…though my photos didn't turn out as good as yours (absolutely stunning photos btw)! But I definitely had a similar reaction to seeing starfish in the wild for the first time!

  • I'm majoring in Biology, so my classes have taken quite a few trips to the tide pools for ecology/statistics lessons (and I often go alone because, come on). They truly are magical! Fun fact: anemones cover themselves in shell fragments to keep from drying out during low tide! My favourite animals to look for are tiny little specimens called chitons. They're little and kind of hard to find, but so precious.