15 Best Beaches in Washington State
Author Brad Lane lives in the Pacific Northwest and loves traveling up and down the Washington coast.
Washington's best beaches stretch up and down the coast. These aquatic destinations range from the extended shorelines of the Long Beach Peninsula to the rocky seashores in Olympic National Park.
Some beaches cater to classic sandy activities, like castle building and kite flying. Wilder beaches in Washington offer different adventures, like tide pool exploring and sea stack admiring. And due to a general western-facing orientation, nearly all beaches in Washington offer stunning sunsets at the end of the day.
Other beach activities in Washington include swimming, fishing, and exploring retired military barracks. While summer is the most popular time to enjoy a beachscape, winter offers a valuable time to unplug next to the water. Winter storms often bring a mesmerizing roll to the tides, and the "off-season" is prime time to spot migrating whales along the coast.
Plan your next beach vacation with our list of the best beaches in Washington state.
1. Alki Beach, Seattle
Alki Beach is one of Seattle's best beaches, and for good reason. This West Seattle beach park defines summer fun in the city. And Alki Beach hosts thousands of swimsuit-clad families and visitors throughout the extended summer season.
Everyday activities include sand volleyball, laying out a blanket, and having a bonfire on the beach. The Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound back the beachscape, as does a regular fleet of ferries and boats on the water. A paved pedestrian path navigates the park and provides a popular route for joggers, bicyclists, and strollers.
Southwest of Alki Beach Park, the Alki Point Lighthouse provides a great photo opportunity and potential guided tour.
2. Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park
The feral coastline of Olympic National Park is on full display at Ruby Beach. Dramatic sea stacks and abundant driftwood define this postcard landscape under eight miles north of the Kalaloch Lodge. The picturesque sea setting makes Ruby one of the most popular beaches in the park.
A steep, paved path leads down to the beach from a parking area, slowly revealing the breathtaking ocean scene with each turn. Ruby Beach has a rocky shoreline more conducive to hiking around than sun tanning on a towel. With ample space to explore both north and south, Ruby Beach also offers one of Olympic National Park's best hiking trails.
Changing tides reveal a rich world of aquatic creatures to observe at Ruby Beach. Alongside abundant tide pools, the area is popular with other types of wildlife like colonies of nesting birds.
The surrounding Kalaloch area of Olympic has several rugged beaches. Other breathtaking beaches to explore in the region include South Beach and Kalaloch Beach. And other nearby sandy spots known as Beaches 1 through 5 also offer quiet coastal appeal.
Accommodation: Best Lodging Options for Olympic National Park
3. Long Beach Peninsula, Long Beach
The city of Long Beach offers easy access to the expansive Long Beach Peninsula in far southwest Washington. The 28-mile stretch of sand on the peninsula is the principal attraction of this charming ocean community. And its sheer length, touted as the "World's Longest Beach," provides a quiet and uncrowded beach experience
The Long Beach Boardwalk extends half a mile from the city, offering an excellent ocean view. The boardwalk also provides a perfect vantage point during the Washington State International Kite Festival every August. For further exploration, a paved Discovery Trail also departs from Long Beach and meanders along the coast.
Alongside ample opportunity to enjoy the saltwater air alone, the peninsula is home to six state park units. The crown jewel of these state park units, Cape Disappointment, is on the southern end of the peninsula and fails to live up to its name.
4. Pacific Beach State Park, Pacific Beach
Pacific Beach is a gateway community to the state's shoreline and part of Grays Harbor County on the central Washington coast. This vibrant ocean town is less than a 90-mile drive from Olympia and lends access to several beaches in the area. The closest ocean attraction is at Pacific Beach State Park.
Pacific Beach State Park encompasses 17 acres and over 2,300 feet of shoreline. Visitors pitch tents and park RVs at the state park's campground to spend the night, and day visitors spend most of their time exploring the beach. Every visitor has the option in the evening to have a small bonfire near the surf.
Pacific Beach State Park is also one of the most popular places in the region to spot whales migrating along the coast. The best time of year to spot whales is January and between March and May. Bring some binoculars to get the best views of the majestic mammals.
The state park is one of many beaches worth visiting on this part of the coast. The community of Moclips to the north has abundant sand to explore. To the south, places like Copalis Beach and Griffiths-Priday State Park also attract beachgoers.
Read More: Best State & National Parks in Washington
5. Fort Worden Beach, Fort Worden Historical State Park
A century ago, Fort Worden was a strategic military base and home to thousands of soldiers trained to protect Puget Sound. Today, this former military installation is now a popular historical park near Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula. Included in its 432 acres are two miles of inviting saltwater shoreline.
The beach at Fort Worden encourages time spent at leisure. It's easy to kick back to the sound of lapping waves and get lost in the distant view of the North Cascades on the horizon.
Fishing endeavors are also encouraged with a 120-foot dock. Plenty of mooring at the park accommodates all types of water vessels, and kayak rentals are also available.
After some beach time, the rest of the park features abandoned barricades and other tourable remnants of its military past. The Point Wilson Lighthouse, on the northern end of the beach, is one such remnant that offers an excellent postcard image of the ocean.
Read More: Top-Rated Things to Do in Port Townsend, WA
6. Rosario Beach, Deception Pass State Park
Over two million visitors a year agree that Deception Pass is one of Washington's best state parks. This seabound state park spans Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands in Puget Sound, connected by the iconic Deception Pass Bridge.
On the northern and less crowded Fidalgo Island, Rosario Beach offers great tide pools and a headland hiking trail. Rosario Beach is actually two beaches on either side of Rosario Head. Both the north and south sections of this curved coastline feature rocky shores bounded by drift logs.
Both beaches also provide excellent tide pooling next to Rosario Head. A looped hiking trail navigates Rosario Head for a great vantage point of Puget Sound and the Deception Pass Bridge.
7. Seabrook Beach
On the central Washington coast, Seabrook is an ideal small coastal town for a weekend trip. The community of Seabrook comprises several colonial-style homes perched atop a sea cliff above the Pacific Ocean. Many of the houses are available as vacation rentals.
Several of the vacation rentals in Seabrook are surprisingly affordable. These charming places to stay, and a 2.5-hour drive from Seattle, make Seabrook popular for those looking to escape the city.
The beach itself offers the true getaway. Steep steps are the only way to access the beach below the community of Seabrook. Upon making it down to the shore, a wide-open beach and forested headlands invite leisurely days exploring the surf.
For family travel, the Gnome Trail in Seabrook is always a big hit with kids.
8. Rialto Beach, Olympic National Park
A rocky shoreline adds to the rugged landscape of this famous beach in Olympic National Park. As do the dramatic sea stacks rising from the surf. Humongous drift logs also define the space, and all these aesthetics add up to an otherworldly experience when visiting.
It's a short walk from the parking area down to Rialto Beach. From here, hikers can head north on the rocky shoreline as far as their energy levels take them. Backpacking is also popular in this edge-of-the-continent environment, with hikers needing a permit to spend the night.
Inland from Rialto, Mora Campground, one of Olympic's best campgrounds, features first-come, first-served sites surrounded by coastal rain forest. And the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center is an hour's drive inland for a more in-depth look into Olympic's lush surroundings.
9. Ocean Shores
Ocean Shores is a quaint coastal community 2.5 hours from Seattle. The vast stretch of the Pacific Ocean draws all types of visitors to Ocean Shores, making it a fun place for family vacations or romantic outings.
Everyday activities on the beach include kite flying, sand-dollar searching, and generally relaxing as the waves pound the shore. Other ways to enjoy the surf include guided horseback rides, boat rentals, and chartered fishing adventures. The streets of Ocean Shores also entertain in the form of cute shops and local eateries.
The North Jetty is a fun place in Ocean Shores to watch big waves at work. This human-made rock wall also features a big sandy beach to explore.
Ocean Shores makes for an excellent basecamp for the many other sandy locales in the area. To the north, Ocean City and Ocean City State Park also provide a family-friendly beach experience.
10. Cama Beach Historical State Park, Camano Island
Overlooking Saratoga Passage on Camano Island, this historical park was once a stylish 1930s fishing resort. Today, the state park retains much of this untouched charm with dozens of seaside cabins available. On the edge of Puget Sound and steps away from the water, these cabins provide a memorable family beach experience.
Beach activities at Cama include swimming, fishing, and exploring the mile-long shoreline. Outside of the cabin accommodations, the state park also operates the Cama Center, including an elegant Great Hall and the Cama Beach Café.
The Center for Wooden Boats also operates within the state park. This non-profit museum and education space features free admission and regularly scheduled workshops.
11. Golden Gardens Park, Seattle
Golden Gardens is on Puget Sound in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, and it's a popular place to enjoy the coastline. This large sandy beach is the main draw to this community space, enticing activities like beach lounging, volleyball, and bonfires.
The views of Puget Sound and the distant Olympic Mountains are a reminder of why Seattle is such a wild place to live. Visitors take in all that grandeur with a cement promenade that parallels the shore. The park also consists of wetland forest areas with several trails to explore.
The beach's western orientation lends to stunning sunsets in the evening. Expect to share the beach with significant crowds on summer weekends.
Read More: Top-Rated Beaches in the Seattle Area
12. Owen Beach, Point Defiance Park
Owen Beach provides a sprawling sandy shore on the northwest tip of Tacoma in Point Defiance Park. This beach is popular for activities like swimming, kayaking, and picnicking. A paved promenade also spans much of the shoreline, inviting leisurely strolls alongside the crashing waves.
Point Defiance is a popular park on the weekends, and many visitors flock to Owen Beach. Other amenities at this city-owned space include picnic tables and restrooms. The city recently added new facilities to the beach complex, including increased parking and concessions. Kayak rentals are also available.
Owen Beach is just the tip of the attractions in Point Defiance Park. After enjoying the view of Puget Sound, other popular things to do include cruising on the Five Mile Drive and meeting some of the residents at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium.
13. Seahurst Park, Burien
Seahurst is a quiet beach park in a southern Seattle suburb with fantastic views of the Olympic Mountains across Puget Sound. The park is also known as Ed Munro Park. The pebbled shoreline of Seahurst extends for approximately 2,000 feet. This abundant space attracts moderate crowds on summer weekends.
Early mornings are the best bet for experiencing the beach with fewer people around. Beachgoers tend to gather throughout the day and remain until the spectacular sunset in the evening. The park is open throughout the year. Winter provides a much less busy time to visit.
The park includes restrooms, reservable picnic areas, and a playground. The park also maintains a healthy collection of trails that explore the forested inland acres. Regularly scheduled naturalist walks occur throughout the summer.
14. Westport Light State Park, Westport
Westport is a charming beach town at the mouth of Greys Harbor on the south-central Washington coast. The city encompasses the southern peninsula forming the harbor, including the tip known as Point Chehalis. Westport Light State Park also encompasses the tip of the peninsula, with over 1,200 feet of stunning shoreline.
The beachfront extends both directions from the Westport Jetty at Westport Light State Park. A crescent beach extends to the east, giving credence to the name of the surrounding Half Moon Bay. A longer shoreline extends south of the jetty, offering plenty of room for everyday beach activities like surfing, fishing, and laying out in the sun.
15. Kalaloch Beach, Olympic National Park
It's hard to determine the best beach in Olympic National Park, but Kalaloch Beach, on the park's southern coast, is certainly a contender. This long stretch of wide coastline is between Ruby Beach and the community of Queets. It offers several access points and places to spread out on the sand.
It's a tree that perhaps brings the most notoriety to Kalaloch Beach. It's a special tree, a Sitka spruce, with its roots out in the open for everyone to see. The aptly named Tree of Life somehow grasps a crumbling ocean bluff and has become a popular destination for capturing beautiful picutres.