The tide gradually recedes, leaving behind exposed rocks with many little pools of still salt water. In those pools colorful, exotic creatures make their homes – Ocean habitats in miniature.
Starfish live side-by-side with sea anemones and sea urchins. The starfish are red, orange and pink; the sea anemones are a rich purple and green; and the sea urchins a rich, dark purple. A cornucopia of colors that surrounds the rocky shores. Tiny fish dart among the shallows. Hermit crabs move from one shelter to another. These are just a few of the many creatures that call the tide pools home. But, the tide pools are not the only places to find coastal creatures. Watch as sea birds like brown pelicans, seagulls, and common murres feed on the exposed bowls of wildlife.
Tide Pool Locations
There are several good areas to explore tide pools in the Lincoln City area.
One of the best is near Roads End State Park, a corner of the coast which offers exquisite intertidal life. From the park, walk a quarter mile north along the beach until you reach the tide pools. This area is mostly flat with stunning views of northern headlands, but pay close attention to tides as they can sometimes cut off access.
The quickest and most accessible point in Lincoln City is at the 15th Street beach access. There is ample street parking as well as a public parking lot nearby. Although you may park on the beach at this access point, it is strongly recommended to park on the street and walk. Weather and ocean conditions change frequently, and can cause issues with vehicles on the beach.
Inn at Spanish Head
Those staying at the property can easily access the tide pools from their oceanfront location. All others are encouraged to access the tide pools from the 35th Street beach access. Parking is very limited at the access, so please observe street parking signage. From the access, walk south until you reach the rocky formations in front of the hotel.
Catch Your Dinner
Rocky residents like mussels and barnacles thrive in the intertidal zone. Mussels have a long, tapered dark blue to black shell. The vivid, orange flesh of the mussel is edible and a prized delicacy in many parts of the world. You’re allowed to harvest mussels but only with a license, which can be purchased from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and at the following locations in Lincoln City:
- Eleanor’s Undertow – 869 SW 51st St, 541-996-3800
- Bi-Mart – 1030 SE Oar Ave, 541-994-6284
ODFW requires all mussel harvesters 12 years of age and older to carry a valid shellfish license on them. Before going out, check the local tide tables and the Shellfish Hotline website for any recent closures or updates.
The Pacific Ocean can be unpredictable. If you plan to visit the tide pools, the best time is at or just before low tide. Click here for Local Tide Predictions.
The sea growth on the rocks can make them slippery. Please practice caution and common sense when navigating the tide pools. Check local weather forecasts before planning your trip. High winds and stormy weather is typically not a good time to be out on the rocks. Please be conscientious when handling the sea creatures. Anemones, starfish and mussels all live in a delicate environment that could be easily damaged; too much handling can disturb their habitat.