4 Experts Reveal The Best Spots in the UK To Go Rockpooling
Armed with a net, bucket and an endless beach to explore, rockpooling is a wonderful, free way to get your kids closer to sea life and offers hours of entertainment.
Image credit https://www.esplanadehotelnewquay.co.uk
Britain’s coastline is home to several rockpooling worlds that play host to all manners of minibeasts, but which ones are the best? With the help of experts, we’ve rounded up the UK’s top four spots for those who revel in rockpools.
1) Swansea Bay, Swansea
Image credit https://www.visitswanseabay.com/
When you think of an idyllic beach, Swansea’s shores probably don’t spring to mind. But Swansea Bay’s beaches are beautiful and teaming with tonnes of marine wildlife to explore – they were even named 10th best in the world in 2017!
Situated in South Wales, Bracelet Bay is just around from Mumbles, a popular seaside town in Swansea. Its beach features stunning deep blue sea, with smooth white sand alongside a rocky coastline, for which it’s won both a Blue Flag and Seaside Award.
According to an expert at Visit Swansea Bay, Bracelet Bay is the go-to place for rockpooling, with a variety of creatures to discover: “It (Bracelet Bay) has a rocky shoreline which makes it great for rockpooling. You’ll find crabs, hermit crabs and small fish in the deep pools”. The bay is considered a Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI), with a small fossilised coral reef that’s located next to a grass verge near the center of the bay.
Note – there is a lifeguard on hand between May – September, meaning you can sit back and relax while your kids explore the rock pools safely.
The beach has a large carpark (approx. 100m away) with a fantastic view of Mumbles Lighthouse, which has stood on an outer island at Mumbles Head since 1974. There are also plenty of quaint refreshment facilities nearby – a top favourite is the Castellamare, an Italian restaurant and café bar with stunning lighthouse views. The public toilets are located a mere 100m (approx.) from the beach.
If you’re staying in Mumbles, Bracelet Bay is only an 8-minute drive and 26-minute walk away (according to Google Maps). You can check out the bus timetable here.
Lynmouth beach. Image credit https://www.beachretreats.co.uk/
Known for its dramatic cliffs, rocky coves and sandy shores, North Devon is an ideal destination if you’re looking for a rural getaway.
Jennette Baxter, Development & Marketing manager at Visit Exmoor, considers North Devon’s rocky coast the best place for rockpooling:
“Exmoor’s rocky coastline is the ideal place for rockpooling. Stretching from North Devon and up through into West Somerset, Exmoor has the highest sea cliffs in England. Although you can admire its beauty by walking along the South West Coast Path, lots of the coast is inaccessible by land. However, this makes the accessible parts even more special!”
Jennette believes there are three beaches in Exmoor which stand above the rest for rockpooling – “Try Combe Martin, Lynmouth and Watchet. You can rock pool at any time of the year”.
Lynmouth is very popular with tourists, meaning it has lots of amenities nearby – including a gift shop, plenty of restaurants, public toilets and lots of parking. It is known as one of the best surf spots in Devon. It is also one of the most dog-friendly beaches around, as they’re welcome all year round.
If you’re looking for a quiet seafront and an abundance of rockpools then Combe Martin, located on the north-west edge of Exmoor National Park is the perfect spot. There are plenty of opportunities to fish and even spot the occasional dolphin.
According to Jennette, Watchet the beach is also perfect for fossil collecting, and a lot of the beach’s findings are on display at the Market House Museum: “Fossil hunting on Watchet beach is like rockpooling – but better. You might find something 200 million years old”! The town is also situated in a beautiful harbour that holds a few cafes and shops.
All three beaches are renowned for their safety, but Jennette advised for keeping an eye on the tide: “You need to look out for low tide. The beaches are safe but you do need to keep an eye on tide tables, as the sea comes in quite quickly in these parts”.
Devon Wildlife Trust have created a useful guide to their rocky shore animals, which you can download here.
3) Fistral Beach, Newquay
Image credit https://www.esplanadehotelnewquay.co.uk
Famous for its postcard views, Newquay has been voted “One of the favourite seaside towns” (Visit Newquay). With its beautiful Atlantic Ocean, Newquay is home to some of the UK’s rarest sea creatures including pufferfish, sharks and rays. Its rock pools are considered Cornish gems, with one of its most notable being Fistral beach.
Also known as “the home of British surfing” (https://fistralbeach.co.uk/), Fistral beach (on the north coast of Cornwall) is one of Newquay’s most popular beaches.
The Esplande Hotel, a family beachside hotel describes Fistral Beach as their residents’ “playground”.
According to the hotel, Fistral’s rockpools are teaming with life, but you do have to be patient: “At first glance the pools may appear quiet – maybe a small fish darting into a crevice but not much else. However, wait quietly and the creatures of the rockpool will emerge from their hiding places and go about their business. A pool that looked fairly empty can become a little hive of activity in no time”!
You can check out their rockpooling guide here.
If you’re patient, you could spot the following rockpool dwellers:
- Common Prawn
- Velvet Swimming Crabs
- Snack-locks Anemone
- Tompot Blenny
When you are finished rockpooling there are a variety of other activities available. The local town is packed with famous high-street brands and restaurants if you’d like to grab a bite to eat and indulge in some retail therapy. There is also a surf school and equipment such as longboards, paddle boards and wetsuits for hire all seasons if you’re a fan of water sports.
4) Bembridge, Isle of Wight
Image credit http://www.isleofwightattractions.co.uk/
On the south coast of England, the Isle of Wight is the UK’s second most-populated islad. It has well-conserved wildlife and is well known for its high cliffs, coastal scenery and picturesque rural landscapes. The Isle of Wight’s towns and villages are also home to a variety of accommodation that offer unique holiday experiences.
On the east corner of the island is the small village of Bembridge, and it’s here where you’ll find a rockpooling goldmine.
Richard Bicknell, the Manager at Whitecliff Bay, Away Resorts’, providers of holiday homes for sale on the Isle of Wight, believes Bembridge beach is perfect for rockpooling:
“Bembridge beach is one of the widest beaches in the Isle of Wight. This combined with its shallow waters and rocky terrain makes it a hotspot for finding all sorts of strange and fascinating marine wildlife.”
Although parking is limited at the nearby restaurant Crab & Lobster Inn, a free carpark is located at the very end of Forelands Field Road. There is also a quaint Beach café nearby, which is quiet and peaceful.
Bembridge is approximately a 28-minute drive from Newport – the principal town of the Isle of Wight. If you’re needing to rely on public transport, it only takes just over an hour on the train to reach Newport.