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Deception Pass

Low Tide Adventure. Fidalgo Island, Washington


Deception Pass State Park has multiple locations where you can look at low tide creatures. I have only explored the side of the park north of the pass for low tide purposes. Rosario Beach is well known for tide pools but is not the most interesting location for lookings. During low tide, Park Rangers rope off a walk way along the pools for visitors to safely view the wildlife from. This is to protect the creatures that live here. If you visit Rosario beach first you can see the full route before more visitors arrive. There will not be more visible as the tide lowers further.

For more advance lookings proceed south to the Pacific Northwest trail and take it to Bowman Bay. Transverse Bowman Bay Beach and hook back up with the trail. Head west to go on the Lighthouse Point Trail. Pay close attention to the trail and look for opportunities to scramble down to the beach. There are multiple places to do this. These beaches disappear when the tides return so keep an eye on your timing. This can be a very physically challenging low tide adventure. It is recommended that you bring a friend.

Aggregating Anemone

The colonies of aggregating anemones at Deception Pass are of a brilliant green color unlike any I have seen before. These are found all over, but especially in little caves created by the rocky landscape. Though each colony consists of clones, there is a variation from green to white within the same colony. I am unsure why this occurs, but it is likely tied to the symbiotic algae that provides the anemone with its coloration.

Sea Star

I'm not sure what type of sea stars these are, but they can be found throughout Deception Pass. They ranged in size from maybe .5" to 3". Most were very snug against the rock and blended in with the surface. I will update when identified.

Plumose Anemone

Plumose anemone look quite bizarre when out of water. They vary in size, shape, and color. You will find some that look like patches of white gum and others that look like droopy snot. Look for these dangling from rocks, both by the water's edge and in small caves created by boulders on the beach. There are areas that are overwhelmed with them.

Blood Stars

Blood stars are typically on the rocks by the edge of the water or in the water. These can be easily spotted from far away due to their bright color that contrasts with the scenery. They do not appear in abundance, but it is likely you can spot a few. 

Purple Shore Crab

During my visit there were purple shore crab absolutely everywhere. They create a constant background of chittering as they scurry away. Purple shore crab in this area ranged from quite tiny, perhaps .5", to a sizeable 5". Up close their coloration is quite pretty. 

Painted Anemone

Painted anemone are both large and abundant at Deception Pass. Look for them near the edge of the water on and in between the rocks. Look before you step as there are many nestled in the small rocks below your feet.


For the full low-tide experience park at Rosario Beach and get warmed up by taking the roped walkway around the tide pools. This is easy to find- it will be directly in front of the parking area at the beach. If you wish to continue, head east to the Pacific NW trail. It will take you through Bowman Bay to a small system of two loop trails. Take the lighthouse loop. Look out on this loop for little scrambles down to beaches that only emerge during low tide. This is an advanced level low tide adventure as getting to the beaches may be physically challenging and potentially dangerous. 

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