The kind of beach holiday you’ll get in Washington is not the sun and surf beach holiday you’ll get in California – it’s something else entirely. Washington’s beaches come mixed in with an array of natural habitats, great wildlife watching, and dramatic coastal landscapes.
There are peculiar beaches on sandspits, eye-catching views of sea stacks rising out of the Pacific Ocean, and plenty of beaches surrounded by woodlands. If you love the beach but always find yourself wishing there was a little more than sand and sea, you’re going to love the best beaches in Washington.
A beach holiday in this state is great for anyone who wants to tie in a trip to the coast with other outdoor adventures, like hiking coastal trails and camping in the woods.
12. Shi Shi Beach
Shi Shi Beach is within the Olympic National Park. The landscape is out of this world; it has rugged sea stacks that stick out of the ocean and perfectly contrast the sandy shoreline.
There are tide pools where you can search for crabs and other mysterious and funny looking marine wildlife. Your day on Shi Shi Beach will be a little different, it’s not the sort of place you come to sunbathe. But it is great for a scenic walk!
The beach is halfway along the 6.7 mile long Shi Shi Beach Trail, a stunning oceanfront and forest trail in Olympic National Park – so you can trek there and make the most of your time here.
11. Cape Disappointment
The cape was formerly known as Fort Canby State Park. It sits along the Long Beach Peninsula and, despite its name, is far from disappointing. There are two miles worth of beaches, lots of lush hiking trails, and two old lighthouses waiting to be explored.
Cape Disappointment is near the towns of Ilwaco and Long Beach; you can drive there easily from either one. If you fancy staying overnight and stretching out your time on the beaches of Cape Disappointment, bring your tent and stay at one of the campsites.
Don’t miss a trip to the most important lighthouse, Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, which was built in 1856 and is the oldest lighthouse on the West Coast. Many lives have been saved thanks to this historic lighthouse!
10. Rialto Beach
Rialto Beach is another stunning beach in Olympic National Park. The landscape of this beach is much like that of Shi Shi Beach; there are huge sea stacks emerging out of the shallow Pacific waters in the distance and waves rolling onto a shoreline that is a mixture of rocks and sand.
There are masses of driftwood along the shore, and it’s not hard to see why – at Rialto Beach the woodlands that cover the hills in the distance meet the sea.
Forget sandcastles and ice cream, bring your camera and binoculars. Keep your eyes pierced for local wildlife (and the many creatures that pass by out at sea), go for a walk, and spend some time just admiring the impressive views.
The city of Westport sits at the edge of Grays Harbor. It has a picturesque marina you can visit, watching the boats bob up and down on the sea is very relaxing. One perk of coming to Westport is that the beaches in the area are generally dog friendly, so you can bring every member of the family!
Spend your days whale-watching, eating fresh seafood, and going on fishing adventures (out at sea or from the sand). Stroll along nearby beaches, like Cohasset Beach or the beaches at Twin Harbors State Park or Westhaven State Park.
Lots of the beaches near Westport have campgrounds too, so if you want to have a more outdoorsy beach adventure you can pitch up there.
8. Dungeness Spit
This beach isn’t like anything you’ll have seen before. The Dungeness Spit is a long sandspit, which can be visualized as a trail of sand stretching out into the ocean. It juts about five miles into the Pacific off the edge of the Olympic Peninsula.
Come and enjoy a day on the beach with a twist – the ocean is on either side.
Rocks, lots of accumulated driftwood, and not much sand, the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge is more a place to come on an adventure than for a tanning session.
Keep a lookout for wildlife like seals, orcas and elephant seals on the horizon. One of the coolest things about this ocean split? It’s still growing! It’s estimated it has grown some 15 feet each year for the last 120 years!
7. Fort Worden Historical State Park
Fort Worden Historical State Park is in Port Townsend. It’s the perfect beach escape for anyone who loves history as much as they love the sea and sand.
After walking along the two miles worth of beach and admiring the spectacular views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, spend some time discovering the history of this park, which was once a military base. The evidence of its past is still scattered around, like the old Victorian-era homes that once belonged to the Officers working here, the parade lawns, and worn down bunkers.
Once over 1,000 troops lived and trained here, preparing to defend Puget Sound from any enemy attacks. Now, you can enjoy a relaxing beach day here and camp at one of the campgrounds if you want to stay longer.
6. Deception Pass State Park
There are more than just beaches at Deception Pass State Park. There are outdoor adventures and watersports for those looking for an active beach escape. Plus jaw-dropping sunsets by the beach and scenic strolls for those who want to take it easy.
The park has lots of woodland with great camping options, so bring your camping stuff along and turn it into a multiple day trip! Deception Pass State Park is the perfect place to combine time by the sea with time in the wilderness.
With 14 miles of varied saltwater shoreline to explore you certainly won’t get bored of the beach. You can walk along North and West beaches, launch your boat off from Cornet Bat, look for crabs in the tide pools at Rosario Beach, or go sea kayaking – the options are endless.
5. North Jetty (Ocean Shores)
The North Jetty is the northern boundary of Grays Harbor. This huge jetty was completed in 1916 and took nine years to build – it’s not hard to see why either, putting heavy rocks down in front of crashing waves is not easy work!
When you arrive, climb up the rocks to the top of the jetty and watch the waves dramatically crash onto the barrier of rocks that protect the beach on the other side. The waves can get pretty rough, so be careful if you’re coming on a windy day.
Enjoy the sea breeze with a stroll along the dark sand beach on the other side of the jetty and breathe in the salty sea air whilst the sound of the waves takes your worries away.
4. Alki Beach (Seattle)
If you’re in Seattle and you fancy a trip to the beach – this is where you’ll come. There are two miles of beach, with great beach facilities like volleyball courts and public grills (make sure you bring some burgers to cook up!).
There are lots of tidepools the kids can investigate, and plenty of restaurants, bars, and cafes right by the beach as the beachfront runs along the edge of the city. Fancy something more adventurous? Rent a kayak and paddle out into the Pacific.
Bear in mind, there’s more seaweed and driftwood than gold sand – but that’s the Pacific charm! You can get there easily on a water taxi from downtown Seattle.
3. La Push Beaches
There are three beaches near the La Push community, collectively called the La Push Beaches. They are characterized by the surrounding vegetation, like lots of evergreen trees, that run along the shoreline.
The beaches are called First, Second, and Third Beach. First Beach is the only one with direct car access, you’ll have to stroll a little to get to the other two, more secluded beaches. Second Beach has great woodland trails and sea stacks, and Third Beach is a great place to come tidepooling (try and spot the colorful starfish that stick to the rocks!).
Come and admire the fallen trees along the beach, and intricately twisted roots that have been shaped by the sea and time. There are scenic views of the ocean, woodlands, and rocky shoreline from all three beaches.
2. Ruby Beach
Guess where this beach is? That’s right, it’s another favorite in Olympic National Park. The beaches here are just stunning, so it’s no surprise so many of them have made it onto the list. The sunsets are particularly gorgeous from Ruby Beach, so try and come for golden hour!
Spend a few hours walking along the beach barefoot looking for pretty shells. All the while enjoying the picture perfect views of tall, chimney-like sea stacks that stand by much bigger tree-topped ones – each unique and impressive.
The beach is a mix of pebbles, sand, and big piles of driftwood. You’re going to love the diversity along Ruby Beach!
1. Long Beach
Long Beach is a city on the Long Beach Peninsula. It’s close to Seattle and Portland, so you could come and visit the city’s beaches on a day trip from one of the main cities. The fresh seafood is to die for!
You might have guessed from the name that this Washington city is right by a long stretch of beach. Seriously, it’s endless. You can walk on and on and still have more beach left to explore.
Once you’re done with the sand, walk along the boardwalk and have an ice cream or visit the North Head Lighthouse. The boardwalk also hosts the annual Washington State International Kite Festival – an event that’s great for the whole family!