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How To Use the Tide Schedule To Your Advantage

Family on beach

If you are an ardent beachgoer, you have undoubtedly arrived at the coast eager to enjoy a stunning beach, only to discover that it has disappeared underwater later that same day. This 'disappearance' is due to the work of tides, which can vary wildly throughout a single day.

Tides are the daily changes in water levels for water bodies connected to the ocean. You can think of them as large waves that form out on the ocean due to the Moon and the sun's gravitational pull. There are two daily tide cycles in a place like the coast of Washington, meaning there are two low and two high tides in a single day.

Two daily tide cycles are common in most places. Depending on the area, the difference between low and high tide can be incredibly big or pretty small, so keep this in mind. Generally, tides take about six hours and twelve minutes to go from high to low and low to high. The height difference between high and low tide is the tidal range. This range is not so noticeable in some places, but it can be quite obvious in other areas.

Tides can vary significantly for one day, so knowing how to read and use a tide schedule or tide table to your advantage is essential. This knowledge can distinguish between a regular and fun day at the beach or sea and a disastrous one. Here are some insights into tides, tide schedules, and how to use tide tables to your advantage.

What Are Tides, and What Causes Them?

Reason for tides

Tides are simply the rise and fall of surface water levels of oceans, bays, gulfs, and inlets occurring at regular intervals. According to the National Geographic Society, the earth's rotation and the Moon's gravitational pull are the two main factors responsible for high and low tides.

Essentially, whichever side of the earth is nearest to the Moon at any given time is influenced by its gravitational pull the most, causing the sea level there to rise and create high tides. As such, tides vary daily and from place to place. Luckily, because we can predict the Moon's position a long way off, useful tide schedules offer you a fair idea of what to expect at sea or when you arrive at the coast. It is worth mentioning that other factors like geography and the weather can influence tides, but tide tables are useful for basic information only.

What is a Tide Schedule?

Tide table

If your main question is "What time is high tide?" anytime you are heading out to the beach or fishing, you will undoubtedly be interested in tide schedules. A tide schedule or tide table indicates the local time of high and low tides for particular areas on specific dates. This schedule tells you when to expect high and low tides and how high they will be. You will often find tide schedules in a tabular form.

It is essential to find the specific tide schedule for the area you want to visit because tides vary significantly from location to location. The schedules are often posted at beaches, but visiting them for real-time information may not always be convenient. Fortunately, you can find this essential tide information on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA's) Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS) website.

They predict tide data for more than 3,000 locations across America and are one of the leading sources of accurate tide information. However, accurate weather platforms like are also worth considering for correct data, so keep this in mind. Our platform is one of the easiest and fastest ways to access accurate weather information for the specific area you are interested in today, the next day and even for the next fourteen days. In addition,

  • We offer information on other relevant conditions like humidity, temperature, and visibility.
  • Our data is collected from many sources and updated more often than other websites, giving you more real-time information.
  • We present our data using various styles of weather radar and satellite maps so that you can visualize cloud, snow, cloud, and rainfall predictions in many different ways.

It is vital to know that tide tables differ slightly. However, once you have a specific schedule for where you are going, the date, time, and height of tides are the three vital pieces of information to pay attention to.

How to Read Tide Schedules

Step 1: Search For the Dates You Will Be Out

Tides change daily, so there is no point finding out today's data if you won't visit the beach or go fishing for another week. Therefore, always search for the tides of the dates you will be fishing, beachcombing, or hiking after settling on your location of interest. For instance, let's assume you want to embark on a backpacking trip along Washington state's beautiful coastline in mid-October and need to know when to expect high and low tides. This information might be necessary because you may want to know whether you can camp along the beach or safely pass a rocky point at specific times. You can search for this area's tide schedule on in October on the specific dates you will make the trip.

Step 2: Determine High Tide

Before examining high and low tides, it is crucial to understand what these terms mean. Schedule data is the area's low tide height average, not the ocean floor, and it is set low so tides don't fall below it. If you wish to get out in the water, you will want to learn how high the tide will be at its peak and when this will occur. This number will be indicated in feet in America, but you may find it in meters in other places. High tide predicts how high above schedule data the tide will be at its largest swell. It is usually indicated as a positive number and may have a plus (+) sign in front of it. For instance, a high tide of ten feet means that the tide will be ten feet higher than the standard low watermark, so keep this in mind.

Step 3: Determine Low Tide

Knowing when the tide will be at its lowest is vital, especially if you plan to engage in beach activities or walk across a headland known to disappear underwater. Low tide forecasts the water level's lowest point. Because schedule data is average, low tide can fall below this number, so that you might see it as a negative number.

Step 4: Understand Wave Height and Interval

If you plan on being on the water, find a tide schedule that reveals wave height and interval. Wave height is the distance between a wave's highest and lowest points. On the other hand, wave intervals refer to the time between waves as they crash against a buoy positioned to measure these intervals. Longer intervals typically result in high waves that are ideal for surfing. Also, short intervals make for gentler ways you can use for wild swimming.

Step 5: Check the Weather

As mentioned early on, the weather can also influence waves' height. High winds can lead to waves rising over one foot, so keep this in mind. Therefore, if you plan to be in the water, it is best to use a reliable weather platform like to know this information before heading out.

How Tide Schedules Can Be Leveraged in Different Ways

Ship Docking

Ship docking

The occurrence of tides might be a standard event, but it carries a lot of relevance to boats and ships. Indeed, a tide schedule can be your major reference point when your vessel tries to enter a bay, inlet, or estuary to dock if you are a ship captain. Low tides in these areas will tie up your vessel before reaching the dockyard, while a high tide won't permit your vessel to dock in the right area. Since a tide schedule helps predict the height of high and low tide today, you will find it easier to manoeuver your vessel smoothly into the preferred docking destination.

Safety at Sea

Boats in canal

There is no denying that traveling through narrow Intracoastal waterways and shallow ports or under bridges is incredibly risky if you don't know what tides you are dealing with. The difference between high and low tides may exceed 49 feet, depending on the area. If you are a sea captain steering your vessel beneath a low bridge, underestimating this range can be dangerous. Therefore, knowing the tidal range through a tide schedule is crucial to your safety at sea.

Catching Fish


Knowing how to read a tide schedule is essential if you wish to catch fish. This reality is because tides have a huge impact on the water bodies you fish on and can make all the difference between a fruitful outing and an utterly unproductive one. If you are a novice fisherman or own a shipping conglomerate, you can rely on a tide table to make an accurate fishing forecast. A low-tide prediction with a tide schedule will help you pinpoint the location of a particular breed of fish known to congregate in schools only during low tides. Therefore, you can catch more fish for food or profit. In addition, strong tidal currents can trap fish in one area. Knowing when that current will happen through a tide schedule can equally help you hit the jackpot, thanks to an accurate fishing forecast.

Generally, experts advise that you look for areas with higher tide ranges when seeking a good catch. This is because the moving water will bring baitfish to the larger fishes you are after, improving your chances of an impressive catch. Also, according to renowned fishing expert Ken Schultz, the general rules are to fish the falling tide an hour after the high tide and the rising tide an hour before the high tide.

Low Tides for Beachcombing

Woman beachcombing

If you love to visit the beach to search for objects of interest, value, or utility, you can benefit by checking's tide schedule before heading out. Tides form tide pools along several shorelines. These small water pools are typically left behind among the rocks at low tide. These pools of water often contain a lot of marine life that you can admire and collect. You can visit rocky shores like those along the Washington and Oregon coast because they provide the best opportunities to spot marine life in tide pools.

Low tide also exposes a lot of mud, so you can easily dig for clams. It is advisable to start digging an hour or two before the predicted low tide and continue searching an hour or two after the tide starts coming in again. You can find clams by searching for tiny holes in the sand that squirt water when you stamp near them.

Mid-tides For a Wonderful Surfing Experience


You can also use our tide schedule to time your surfing sessions for the best possible experience. If you are a seasoned surfer, you will agree that the best waves come between high and low tide, although this varies by location. Mid-tides are ideal because waves may increase height and speed as the tide rises. Therefore, hitting a rising tide at the right time and place could give you up to 3 great hours of a great swell. The waves could remain almost perfect before reaching maximum high tide.

High Tides for Snorkeling

Woman snorkling

There are benefits to swimming along the surface of water bodies to enjoy the underwater world at low and high tides alike. However, high tides offer better visibility, so you will see underwater features more clearly if you go snorkeling during this period. It may be more challenging to get to the bottom of water bodies to see the most impressive sights during high tides. Nevertheless, this shouldn't be a problem if the water isn't too deep and you are an experienced snorkeler.

Check out our weather information for the most accurate forecasts and tide schedule to make your next beach adventure a breeze!

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