One of the greatest things about West Sussex is that you’re never too far from the coastline, wherever you’re staying. The spring and summer months are a great time to get out and enjoy family-friendly activities and immerse yourself in nature and learn about local wildlife.

Rockpooling is a fun activity for all ages, it takes the kids away from their screens and gets them breathing in some energising sea air. The whole family will enjoy exploring and learning more about some of the fascinating creatures that live along our coastline. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll find – starfish, crabs, shrimps, limpets and snails. Have a look at our guide to rockpooling, then head down to the sea to get started!

You will need:

  • Buckets or clear Tupperware containers
  • Your rockpooling ID sheet
  • Sturdy and comfortable footwear
  • Pens and paper
  • Camera (optional) 

How to get started

  1. Fill your containers about halfway with sea water - it’s a good idea to have separate containers to keep some creatures apart, such as large and small crabs.
  2. Start searching in the shallow rockpools to see what you can find. You can carefully lift starfish and crabs out of the sea and place them into your containers for a better look, or gently push your buckets through the water to see if anything swims into it.
  3. Using your hands, carefully lift rocks to look underneath and see what creatures might be dwelling underneath, but make sure you don’t prise any from their homes.
  4. Use your pens and paper to take a quick sketch, or take some photos with your camera. Don’t forget to use your rockpooling ID sheet to tick off what you’ve found!
  5. When you’ve finished looking, make sure you return the animals back to the sea where you found them.

Top tips and things to remember

  • Check the tide times in your area before you go, so you don’t get caught out, and keep an eye on them at all times. You can check the tide times here.
  • If you’re supervising younger children, watch out for pincers; and remember, these creatures are very delicate!
  • Don’t keep any sea creatures out of the water for long, and make sure there aren’t too many in one container.
  • It’s important to make sure you return the rocks to the same place you found them once you’ve looked underneath.
  • Nets can cause damage to rockpools and might be harmful to some creatures, so are best avoided.
  • Always wash your hands after you’ve been rockpooling.

Where to go:

  • Shoreham Fort
  • Climping Beach
  • Worthing Pier
  • West Wittering Beach
  • Felpham Beach

Information sourced and adapted from the Sussex Wildlife Trust.

You can find more ideas for family-friendly activities during your stay in West Sussex on our website, and download our activity sheets here.