How to Rock Pool in England: An American Girl’s Guide

This post contains affiliate links for which I may make a small commission to help keep the site running. You will not be charged extra for these items had you not clicked the links. Thank you for your help to keep the site running!

Spread the love

Over the August bank holiday weekend, Guy told me that he was going to teach me how to rock pool. Being a native Floridian used to vast sandy beaches, I didn’t really know what he meant. We’re going to go look at some rocks? We’re going to go collect some rocks? No, he said. We’re going to go rock pooling!

Right, okay, well the only pools I know of are the sparkling blue ones in a backyard that you float around in, but I’m open to this adventure.

We were down at the coast, just a few miles from Dover, and his family had a spot they had been rock pooling in for years. We had to first pick a time to go based on the tides. If the tide was too high, it would be covering the rock pools. And if the tide was low but coming back up, you’d only have a short amount of time before the pools were covered again.

Hey, sidenote! If you’re traveling to the UK or live in the UK, whether for a short period of time or as an expat, why don’t you join my Facebook group where you can ask questions, get advice or just look at pretty pictures of this part of the world! Just click here to request to join and I’ll add you!


Once we got down to the rocky area, I started seeing little pockets of water everywhere. The terrain was nothing like anything I’d ever experienced, and the rocks were slippery with the seaweed and other sea gunk covering them. I almost wiped out multiple times before the action even began.


It turns out that there was a particular rock pool known for the sea creatures that lived in it, as there was plenty of hiding space. One of the key rules on how to rock pool is that you keep your favorite rock pool a secret, though, so the masses don’t turn up and steal your fun!

You might also enjoy  How to Overcome Culture Shock Like a Pro: Understanding the 5 Stages of Culture Shock


The actual, practical, ‘how to’ of rock pooling involves putting a piece of bait on a string. We used natural bait found on the coast, but we saw other people with hunks of meat. You basically dangle the bait in the rock pool, just a couple inches away from the side.


If you’re lucky, fish, shrimp, crabs and other sea creatures will swim out to grab it or investigate what’s going on.

Guy promised me before we went that it wasn’t meant to hurt the animals. We would bait them, feed them, possibly put them in a bucket to observe and then release them back into the rock pool to live the rest of their life happily ever after.


Of course, what he didn’t anticipate was that within 10 seconds of putting my first bait in the water, it was grabbed by a sizeable fish who then got his mouth stuck on the hook. I screamed, being traumatized more and more every second as I feared I had hurt it.

I kept apologizing to the fish and promised him I’d get him off the hook soon (I grew up in the suburbs with no real natural interactions if you can’t tell).

He was soon released, and while I think he probably has a case of fish PTSD, he swam back off into his hiding place.


The rest of the morning was much more humane and fun. We caught a few crabs that we watched scurry around and fight over the food. Shrimp started poking their heads out from under their hiding places and we caught a glimpse of how these creatures live and interact in these pools.


After we had stayed near our rock pool for an hour or so, another family came over to join us. This then started attracting every other family on the beach, who wanted to see what we were up to. This was our cue to leave them to it, as the creatures are far less likely to come out when there are a lot of people around making noise.

You might also enjoy  How to Find Cheap Flights in Europe

While I had no expectations either way going in, I was surprised how much fun we had just dangling some bait on strings for hours. I thought I might get bored, but it became addicting to see how many different creatures you could see.

Best of all, it was free! Okay, we had to pay for parking, but it’s England so what do you expect.

Have you been rock pooling, in England or elsewhere? What’s the best creature you’ve ever seen?

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


2 years ago

Love this! It brings back happy memories of my childhood – I was born & brought up in a seaside town in England and we used to go rock pooling with school in the Summer. It was the 70’s – it was allowed in those days 🙂 All that balancing and trying not to slip is great for the leg muscles – free fun and a workout!!

Bernadette Jackson

2 years ago

This is my childhood too. At least one of us would manage to get a scrape or two on the rocks, someone would lose their jacket and I’d swear the crabs were laughing at us as they swiped the bait and scuttled off back under the rocks. Last time we went to Appledore on the estuary in Devon, there were new generations of families doing the same thing, although mostly from the safety of the stone steps. Best critters seen? Probably jellyfish at Saunton Sands.


Contact me


Contents of this website, including text, images, and videos, are Copyright © Kalyn Franke. All Rights Reserved. Licences have been obtained where necessary for other contents. Contents of this website may not be used or duplicated without written permission of Kalyn Franke. Music pieces remain copyright of their respective copyright holders. Licences for music pieces have been obtained where required.

Copyright © 2018 Kalyn Franke