Rock pooling and crabbing is loads of fun and the South Devon coastline has so many perfect places. Check out the best spots. What will you find?
Rock Pooling and Crabbing in Devon
You don’t need to go on safari to find wild, exotic creatures. The good ole British seaside is teeming with interesting wildlife, sure to fascinate your curious kids.
The South Devon coastline is studded with spectacular pools, housing all manner of minibeasts, from crabs, shrimps and starfish, to limpets, whelks and mussels. If you’re really lucky, you may spot a small fish like a goby or blenny, or even a seahorse!
Best of all, it doesn’t have to be a perfect sunny day to go rock pooling and crabbing. There are plenty of adventures to be had, whatever the British weather is doing.
Tips for Rock Pooling and Crabbing
Hunting for small sea creatures at the beach is loads of fun, but, as always, it’s safety first. Our coastline is tidal and nature must always be respected. So before you set off with your buckets, check the tide times and seek local advice – locals know which places have strong currents and where the incoming tides can cut you off.
Low tide is the best time for rock pooling, as this is when most pools will be exposed. But don’t head off without the right equipment. We recommend strong, waterproof footwear as rocks can be sharp and slippery, sun cream and sun hats to keep you protected, and a cardie or jumper as it can get chilly by the water’s edge. Use clear buckets or Tupperware pots to view your creatures – kids will be delighted at the sight of a starfish clinging on the side of a bucket with their suckers and mouth. Take a good guide with you too, so you can identify your finds.
We recommend using your hands to handle the creatures, as nets can damage the ecosystem. Always return your marine creatures to the same place you found them, and ensure they’re the right way up. If you take any shells home, check they don’t have any occupants lurking within.
Don’t be despondent if you don’t spot something straightaway. Sometimes you need a little bit of patience and some detective skills. Patterns or bubbles in the sand can indicate a creature is hidden beneath, so dig gently with your hands to see what’s about. Marine animals like shady spots, so pick up rocks and turn over seaweed.
Great Places to Go Rock Pooling and Crabbing in South Devon
The best places to find marine critters are sheltered, rocky shores, while the underside of piers and boulders can provide rich pickings. We’re spoilt for choice in South Devon, but these are some of our favourite spots.
- Explore the glistening pools at our very own Coryton Cove in Dawlish Warren to find crabs and other sea life.
- Shoalstone beach has a rock pool as big as a swimming pool, in addition to lots of smaller pools.
- The underside of Salcombe Pier is carpeted in sea squirts, charmingly known as sea pigs as they have two holes that look like a pig’s snout. You can also find star ascidians here.
- Stoke Gabriel in the mouth of the River Dart is a crabber’s heaven, and the River Shack Café sells crabbing equipment and bait to help lure some little nippers.
- The Mouthwell Beach area of Hope Cove is a rock pooler’s heaven.
- And Wembury Bay near Plymouth is one of the country’s most renowned rock pooling sites, especially after Bill Oddie said it was his favourite place to go wandering at low tide!