There are a handful of places where you can do some decent rockpooling on the Isle of Wight but Bembridge is our current favourite. That makes it sounds like we search for crabs on a weekly basis, which is not quite the case. However, we have found rockpooling to be an enjoyable occasional activity if you want to fill time at a beach when it isn't as sunny as you were hoping.
Other good options for rockpooling are Steephill Cove and Freshwater Bay (the section of beach round to the right as you face the sea rather than the main beach). If you have had success at others, please do comment below. Bembridge is a popular dogs-off-leads beach which is a bit irksome for those of us who limit ourselves to hamsters, but it is good news if you're looking for somewhere you can entertain children and pets at the same time.
The key - of course - is reading the tide tables. On this occasion, we arrived about an hour before low tide which was ideal as the rocks became more exposed whilst we were there.
We spent a good amount of time saying things like "there's one! Oh, actually it's just a pebble" before we hit a lucky streak. After an hour, we had five crabs. I wouldn't say they were huge but they were alive, at least.
Another family seemed to be having more success and were hauling in crabs the size of dinner plates (I may be exaggerating). We questioned them on the secret of their success and they revealed that they were using ham, whereas we were just using a net and a bucket load of enthusiasm. Our four year splashing in the water in her wellies also didn't help.
We briefly thought that the largest crab had eaten the smallest one but thankfully it turned out to be a false alarm.
At this point, my mother announced that we would have a crab race as we almost had enough for one crab each.
As we prepared to empty the bucket of crabs onto the sand it emerged that none of us actually knew how to race crabs, which caused some discussion and debate. Should we put them sideways or straight on? How would they knew which direction to scuttle? Would they mind being out of the water for a few minutes?
In the end we drew a circle in the sand with the edges of the circle touching the water. The crabs were placed into the middle and the winner was the first to reach the edge of the circle in any direction.
After a slow start, the crab assigned to child one scuttled to victory and returned to the water. For the record, my crab came second and Mrs Guru's crab buried itself in the sand and was never seen again.
Isle of Wight Guru's Blog