The beaches of the Pacific Northwest posses a rugged beauty all their own. Beaches in Washington State are famous for towering sea stacks, spectacular sunsets, an abundance of marine life, clamming and crabbing, tide pools packed with brilliantly colored anemones and sea stars, and much, much more. Between the pristine beaches along the Olympic National Park, the rugged coastline, and the beautiful Puget Sound, Washington State has no shortage of awe inspiring beaches. To help you narrow the choices, we put together a list of the best beaches in Washington State.
Best Washington Beaches
Deception Pass State Park is Washington’s most visited state park, and for good reason. The tall cliffs along the coast look down onto crashing waves and bald eagle nests perched along the jagged rocks. Giant old growth trees provide a cool canopy for picnickers and ample shade on a hot day. Make your way to Rosario Beach for an amazing diving area. The fairly shallow water offers a great environment for beginners and more advanced divers. Pacific octopus and seals are often seen in the water, along with nudibranchs, sea urchins, and hermit crabs. If you’re not an aspiring or experienced diver, take a walk along the 38 miles of hiking trails, and don’t miss the numerous look out points and breath-taking views.
Westport Beach is a favorite of local surfers. The area offers a distinctly family friendly atmosphere, and a wide, long stretch of sand that’s perfect for taking a long stroll. The ocean winds create the perfect weather for flying kites, and the waves here attract experienced surfers, as well as beginner boogie boarders. Pick one up a kite or rent a board and a wet suit at one of the local shops along the waterfront. Westport Beach is also a great place to dig for Razor clams, or rent a bike and ride along the cranberry bogs that line the beach. End the day with a drift wood beach fire, or eat some of the area’s famous and delicious seafood.
First Beach sits on the junction of the Hoh River and the Pacific Ocean, in beautiful La Push. First Beach is well known for surfing, whale watching, and swimming. The wide crescent-shaped beach looks out onto a cluster of sea stacks, and offers a pretty great view of sunsets, smeared with purple and pink hues. The beach is also the first stop along a world famous hike down the coast that visits First, Second, and Third Beach. The beach is surrounded by the Quileute Indian Reservation, giving the area a peaceful and slow paced vibe.
This island waterfront park offers some of the best whale watching in the area. You’ll have to take the ferry from Anacortes to reach San Juan Island, and make the 10-mile trip to Lime Kiln Point. The point is a 36-acre park, and the jagged rocky coastline offers the perfect viewing point to look out over the clear blue water. Peak whale watching season here is May through September, and visitors can see orca whales, minke whales, seals, and sea lions. Take a whale-watching trip or rent a kayak for your own adventure. After you’ve gotten your fill of whale watching, rent a bike or take a drive around the island for a tour of local wineries.
A few years ago Shi Shi Beach was only accessible to kayakers and off trail hikers. A trail through to the two-mile crescent was extended, and now the sea stack lined shoreline is just a 3-mile hike away. While at the beach, you have a good chance of seeing eagles, sea otters, or gray whales off the coastline. There are also plentiful tide pools to explore, and the Point of Arches formation to marvel at. For the outdoorsy types, you can pick up a backcountry permit and stake out the perfect camping spot in the surrounding wilderness. The trailhead to access the beach is in Neah Bay, and you’ll need a recreation pass at the trailhead.
The 28 miles of Pacific coastline that run up the Long Beach Peninsula are a beautiful and sandy stretch of flat, perfect beach terrain. It’s especially convenient for children and elderly, or just those who love to go for a drive, because the miles of coastline are actually a highway. Beachgoers can drive their car right out to the perfect spot with no extra hiking through soft sand. If the moving cars make you nervous, head to Ledbetter State Park for a car-free beach experience. The long stretch of beach is also lined by cute beach towns full of local shopping and an astounding restaurant scene.
On any sunny day in Seattle, it’s a good bet that Alki Beach will be over crowded. If you head two miles south of Alki, you’ll find Me-Kwa-Mooks Park. The Park is small, but the complete lack of commercial diversions leave it almost completely ignored and uncrowded. It’s the perfect place for those in search of tide pools, full of a diverse range of sea creatures like sea stars or hermit crabs. Just off the coast it’s not uncommon to see osprey diving for fish. The beach is just a few minutes from Seattle’s city center, offering up plenty to do and see away from the sandy shoreline.
This article was written by Alexis Hartmann.