Tidepooling and Kayaking in Kachemak Bay

This is the second installment in my series of posts about Kachemak Bay Wilderness Lodge including information about enjoying some of these same activities whether you’re staying there or not.

Low Tide at Kachemak Bay Wilderness Lodge

Water levels can shift more than 20 vertical feet during tide changes in this expansive estuary

Not many kids can say they’ve touched an octopus but my son is now proud to lay claim to this experience. Exploring the shoreline and tide pools during low tide at Kachemak Bay Wilderness Lodge is one of the best parts of staying there (for an overview of all the great things about staying there, see this post). Outfitted with rubber boots (kids should bring their own since the lodge doesn’t have a huge selection of kid sizes) and plant and animal identification cards, we joined experienced guide Dan during one of the lowest tides of the summer.

We learned about:

  • Barnacles (did you know there are over 1,200 species?)
  • Sea Stars (do you know which type is the fastest?)
  • Anemone (do you know why one is called a “Christmas tree?”)
  • Octopus (do you know where to look for them on the shoreline?)
  • Crabs (do you know about the one that decorates its shell?)
  • Kelp (have you tasted the different kinds?)
  • …and Pirates

The pirate part had nothing to do with our tide pool exploration but our dear guide, Dan’s pirate impressions made our children fall madly in love with him and all kinds of silliness ensued.

Octopus at Low Tide

Here is our peek at the leg of a Giant Pacific Octopus. Since they have no bones, they can squeeze themselves into very small crevices

Boy touching octopus

William gently touching the moving leg and suction cups on the octopus

Sunflower Sea Star

This colorful creature is a Sunflower Star, they usually have 24 legs and can grow larger than three feet in diameter! We saw mostly purple and red ones like this but they also come in pink, brown, orange or yellow which explains their name. The Sunflower Star is the fastest sea star in the ocean

Striped Sun Star

A Striped Sun Star

Sea Star eating a clam

This Leather Star is eating lunch–its stomach is out to consume a clam

Rock climbing

William climbing rocks with his favorite guide, Dan. Blimey, this is where the pirate shenanigans started

Pirate Girl

“Aaaaargh!” That’s a shell eye patch in case you were wondering

After a little down time and a yummy fireside picnic lunch, we paddled over the same places we had explored by foot earlier in the day. This was a wonderful lesson to help the kids understand the changing tide.

Ready to Kayak

Kayaking Kid

Double sea kayaks are the norm for lodge guests and our 4 and 6 year-olds did great in the front. That is, until one decided to spontaneously combust into tears claiming extreme hunger and cold. Oh my…. and just when things were getting more interesting and we found a pirate cave.

Kayaking into a cave

Our kind and patient guide, Dan, casually pulled out a thermos and mixed up cups of hot cocoa for the kids as if he regularly mixes drinks from a kayak. Then, as if he had read their minds, he reached into a pocket and fished out an energy bar. He had them at “Ahoy, Matey” (from the pirate time earlier in the day) but this took the kids over the top. They now refer to Kachemak Bay Wilderness Lodge as “the place where Dan lives.”

Kayaking Kid with Cocoa

William, post-meltdown. Lord help us if he expects this every time we kayak…

Thanks to the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, you can explore this area even if you aren’t staying at the Kachemak Bay Wilderness Lodge. They may not pamper you with hot cocoa on the go and you’ll need to bring your own lunch (how will you ever survive?) but this impressive non-profit organization is equipped to set you up for a day of adventure and fun in the intertidal zone and on the water. Consider their Guided Natural History Tour, a day trip of exploring the beach and hiking the trails. Kayaking is an option as well but if you choose not to, you’ll still enjoy plenty of time on the water and witness all kinds of wildlife during your ride from Homer over to Kachemak Bay.

Last but not least, if an excursion of this sort isn’t going to fit into your schedule or budget then at least visit the Wynn Nature Center or the Pratt Museum in Homer to get a better feel for the history of this remarkable area and all that it has to offer.


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