Shi Shi Beach, Neah Bay, Washington
Beachcombers regard this 2-mile crescent of shoreline near the northwesternmost point of the contiguous United States as one of the finest tide pooling beaches in North America. Mussels are the most common inhabitants at Shi Shi Beach, though razor clams, limpets, chitons, hermit crabs, and sea cucumbers live in pools at low tide here, too. Perhaps the only downside to Shi Shi is its remoteness: The quickest way to get there is a 3-mile trail-and-boardwalk hike from a parking lot off Hobuck Road on the Makah Indian Reservation. Be sure to get a $20 Makah Recreation Pass at the reservation museum before you park.
Beach 4, Olympic National Park, Kalaloch, Washington
The rock basins here are on lands occupied for millennia by the Quinault Indians, whose reservation now lies to the southwest. “From tide pools we once ate anemones, limpets, large barnacles, and seaweed,” says Leilani Chubby, curator of the Quinault Tribal Museum. “Mussel shells were used for cutting and for making leggings worn during dances. We still collect mussels on the reservation and bake them in a pit.” Visit on your own or join tide-pool walks organized by the Kalaloch Ranger Station.—CH
Hulopoe Bay, Lanai, Hawaii
The best thing about the tide pools at Hulopoe Bay is their accessibility—the pools are a short stroll from the Four Seasons Resort Lanai, and just down the bluffs from the open-to-the-public Hulopoe Beach Park. There’s even a set of concrete stairs from the main dirt trail down to the pools themselves. On most days, the critter cast of characters comprises crabs, sea stars, limpets, and fish. The tide pools also are a short walk from Sweetheart Rock, an 80-foot-tall rock formation from which, legend says, a warrior jumped to his death after learning his wife died.