13 Best Beaches on the Olympic Peninsula – ONP Beach Guide


Looking for the best beaches in Olympic National Park?

I live twenty minutes from the Olympic Peninsula and have explored all thirteen stunning beaches featured in this article. 

This comprehensive guide includes activities, top beach picks for camping and RVing, accommodation options, and travel tips.

I share my first-hand experience to help you determine the best beach on the Olympic Peninsula for you.

Let’s go!

Quick Guide: Best Olympic Peninsula Beaches

Olympic National Park is only a portion of the peninsula.

Point of the Arches on Shi Shi Beach at low tide on a blue sky, summer day with rocks jutting out of the sand
Point of the Arches on Shi Shi Beach in ONP is a spectacular experience at low tide.

While most beaches on the Pacific Ocean side of the peninsula featured here are part of the park, the beaches on the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound sides are not. 

  • Best Beach on the Strait of Juan de Fuca side: Salt Creek
  • Best Beach on the Pacific Ocean side: Second Beach
  • Best Beach on the Puget Sound side: Fort Flagler

Beaches on the Strait of Juan de Fuca side

This map shows the location of each of the four best beaches discussed in the next section of this article.

1. Fort Worden Beach

🗸 Discover Pass Required

With over two miles of shoreline to walk at Fort Worden, there’s much to explore here, including old military bunkers and hiking and biking trails.

Pack a lunch and walk the driftwood-laden beach to Point Wilson Lighthouse, enjoying expansive views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Past the lighthouse, enjoy your meal on the sand while looking toward Mt Baker and the North Cascades. 

This west side of the park excels with amenities. The Cablehouse Beach Canteen serves sandwiches, snacks, cold drinks, and ice cream. 

After lunch, walk the pier to the Port Townsend Marine Science Center for relaxed hands-on learning about sea life. 

If you have only a few hours, it will be an unforgettable afternoon. But I recommend staying at least one night, giving you more time to explore this 432-acre park. 

Orange sunset sky and sea cliff on the coastline at Fort Worden State Park beach
The north-facing beach at Fort Worden State Park is where you will catch a stunning sunset.

Camp at the state park campground or stay in one of Fort Worden’s vacation rentals. RV camping is also available, right on the beach!

And if all of this isn’t enough, a quick drive will take you to the center of Port Townsend, where you’ll find excellent restaurants and shops that reflect the artsy vibe of this small coastal city.

2. Dungeness Spit

🗸 Daily Entrance Fee Required

If you’re not someone who’s lived near a coast, you might be asking, what’s a spit? It’s a narrow slice of land that stretches out into the sea, and this sand spit, in particular, is our country’s longest.

The Dungeness Spit is an easy 11-mile round-trip stroll, which means you can spend an entire day here walking at a leisurely pace. On your walk toward the New Dungeness Lighthouse, you’ll see bald eagles fly above you and Harlequin ducks in the bay behind the spit.

The Dungeness Spit is the major attraction of the Dungeness Recreation Area, an area so vital to native and migrating birds that President Woodrow Wilson established the surrounding 772 acres of land and water as a national wildlife refuge.

Man walking over small rocks on a beach with driftwood at Dungeness Spit
My good friend Andrew and I walking the spit on a blue sky day in late September.

So recreate responsibly and respect protected areas closed to visitors to preserve this place as a refuge for wild creatures. 

Because this sand spit is a breeding ground for native birds, dogs are not allowed.

3. Salt Creek

🗸 No Day Use Fee

It’s common for locals to declare that Salt Creek Recreation Area is their favorite place to camp.

I return year after year with my husband, our two Siamese cats, and our RV, and I never grow tired of this remarkable place.

One year we saw a seal pup that appeared to be stranded on the rocky shoreline. We were worried and curious about its circumstance. Thankfully, a ranger was on-site to ensure visitors did not disturb or help it back into the water.

The reason? She speculated that it was time for this pup to learn how to swim and forage on its own. Sadly, only 50% of seal pups will reach age two. 

We stayed a bit longer to watch it. Of course, humans being humans, a family with rambunctious young boys got too close to the pup and probably scared it. 

There’s so much natural beauty here: shoreline cliffs, a massive sea stack with a stand of evergreen trees, forest trails with waterfalls leading to a hidden cove, and tide pools filled with anemones. The landscape gives ultimate meaning to the hashtag #pnwparadise. 

Dramatic cliffs and mountains in the distance at the best beach on the Olympic Peninsula, Straight of Juan de Fuca side
The view of Crescent Bay from Bluff Trail above. Photo credit Emma A. on the dyrt

Despite the beach’s accessibility, once you’re here and ready to explore, it feels like a wild and remote place.

RV spots book quickly, so plan your trips months in advance. Make your summer reservations in January to ensure you secure a campsite!

4. Cape Flattery

🗸 Makah Recreation Pass Required

Including Cape Flattery on this Strait of Juan de Fuca list may be controversial for two reasons. 

The first reason is that it’s not a beach per se, but a cliff. The second is its location, positioned at the northwest corner of Washington State, where the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Pacific Ocean meet.

But considering the quantity of beaches up for consideration on the Pacific Ocean side of the Olympic Peninsula, I’m keeping it here!

And looking at the photo below, you see exactly why Cape Flattery is worthy of this list. 

Sea cliffs and sea stacks topped with evergreen trees at Cape Flattery
The moody scenery at Cape Flattery on an overcast day. Photo credit Dan Coe via WA DNR

The view from the first of the four available viewpoints on the 1.5-mile round-trip trail doesn’t get any better than this. Simply put, it’s world-class. 

Seals, otters, gray whales, and pods of orcas have been spotted from here.

Depending on the season and the weather, the color of the water changes. In summer, the water is a stunning aquamarine color. 

But no matter the time of year you visit, even if it’s foggy, windy, and rainy, you will be in awe of the landscape. 

In fact, this is a great place to visit in winter. As long as you wear a layer of Gore-Tex, rain and fog only add to its dramatic feel.

Though a short trip, there are 200 ft of elevation, tree roots, and narrow, uneven boardwalks to maneuver. Sturdy shoes are highly recommended.

Best Beaches Olympic National Park on the Pacific Coast

This map shows the location of each of the seven best beaches discussed in the next section of this article, including those that are part of Olympic National Park.

5. Hobuck Beach

🗸 Makah Recreation Pass Required

Hobuck Beach is a hidden gem on Makah Bay, only 11 minutes from Cape Flattery. It’s the perfect beach to visit after a trip to Cape Flattery because, unlike Shi Shi Beach – next on this list – it’s easily accessible.

This beach is not part of Olympic National Park. Both Cape Flattery and Hobuck Beach are located on Makah tribal land near Neah Bay.

Visiting the Makah Museum in Neah Bay to learn more about the Makah Tribe is well worth your time. You’ll learn about their whaling history, see artifacts 300-500 years old, a replica of a traditional longhouse, and much more.

This sandy beach is easy to walk; there’s much less driftwood here compared to beaches later highlighted. It’s a scenic place to stroll or sit and take in the idyllic surroundings.

Crescent shaped Hobuck Beach on a blue sky day with low mountains in the background
Hobuck Beach Resort in the distance, Makah Reservation

Hobuck Beach is also where wetsuit-donning surfers can catch a good wave. 

Hobuck Beach Resort and Campground rents surfboards, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards for those seeking to recreate in the water.

Sea and river kayaking can be done here, as the Waatch River feeds into Makah Bay.

You do not need to stay at the resort to visit this beach. If you have a Makah Recreation Pass, you can park, use the picnic tables, and relax on this remote, off-the-beaten-path beach.

6. Shi Shi Beach

🗸 Makah Recreation Pass Required
🗸 Olympic National Park Wilderness Permit Required for Camping

Shi Shi Beach is only twenty minutes from Cape Flattery, and eight minutes from Hobuck Beach, heading south on the Olympic Coast.

This beach is part of Olympic National Park. It’s a worthwhile destination on your park tour if you’re willing and able to put in the mileage to get to it. 

And you must be prepared to encounter mud!

The second mile of the approximately 8-mile round trip hike and beach walk to the landmark Point of Arches is reliably wet and muddy. Visit in August or early September after the dry season to avoid shin-high mud. 

But will it be worth it, even if it just rained? Absolutely. 

Shi Shi Beach is sandy and expansive, with sweeping coastal views. It’s spectacular.

Woman walks on Shi Shi Beach toward Point of the Arches in the distance
The redeeming quality of the mud on the hike to Shi Shi Beach is that it’s generally less populated than Ruby and Rialto beaches.

Bald eagles and western gulls soar overhead as you walk along the rugged grouping of sea stacks that make up the Point of Arches. All around, you’ll see tide pools teeming with marine life. 

Timing is everything. For the best possible experience, check the tide chart.

Plan to reach the Point of Arches at low tide to give yourself hours of exploration. 

Camp for a night or two to experience all the natural wonder this beach offers.

On a clear summer night, you might even be lucky enough to catch bio-luminescent plankton sparkling below your feet as you walk the beach. Aptly described as “glitter in the dark,” this spectacular sight occurs when conditions are just right. 

7. Rialto Beach

🗸 Olympic National Park Pass Required

Driving from Shi Shi Beach to Rialto Beach takes nearly two hours because no road takes the most direct route. You can, however, hike or walk the beach – all part of Olympic National Park – “as the crow flies” from Shi Shi Beach to Rialto Beach. 

Rialto Beach is easily accessible; you can drive and park, and you’re right there on the beach. But the downside is that it will be packed with people on a beautiful summer day.

Do not let this deter you! You’ll often hear that Rialto Beach was a traveler’s favorite destination of Olympic National Park.

The rocky landscape here is impressive and almost otherworldly, best enjoyed at low tide.

Jagged rock formations of varying size and height create a scene quintessentially “northwest.”

Checking the tide schedule in advance ensures the best possible experience, especially if you plan to do the mile-and-a-half-ish beach walk to Hole in the Wall.

Hole in the Wall is a narrow hole at the bottom of a massive rock on Rialto Beach. This hole is more like a tunnel; through it, you arrive at another wild and gorgeous Olympic Peninsula beach. 

Low tide is when you’ll see sea stars and other marine creatures while exploring the tide pools at Hole in the Wall. And low tide allows you to walk through Hole in the Wall, being careful as you travel over slick rock.

Sturdy shoes are recommended as the beach is very rocky. Tread and traction are essential. 

8. First Beach (La Push)

Located on Quileute tribal land, First Beach is the most accessible beach of all three La Push beaches. You can drive right up to the beach, park, and you’re there; no need to hike.

First Beach is not part of Olympic National Park, but Second Beach and Third Beach are.

First Beach is a crescent-shaped stretch of shoreline along the Pacific Ocean, with stunning views of sea stacks and nearby James Island, known as A-Ka-Lat to the Quileute people.

It’s also home to some of the gnarliest driftwood I’ve ever encountered on a beach.

Man standing next to a large tree washed onto the best beach on the Olympic Peninsula to see driftwood, First Beach.
My husband staring incredulously at a tree that washed onto First Beach.

Many visitors sit on driftwood, staring out towards the ocean. Some have been lucky enough to spot whales.

This simple act of marveling at the ocean feels exciting at First Beach. It’s why visitors return.

In winter, storms here are epic. The best way to watch them if you’d like to stay dry is inside a cabin at Quileute Oceanside Resort. 

We usually RV camp at Quileute Oceanside Resort, and we’ve also stayed in their cabins facing the beach. All RV sites are a short walk to the beach, but some sites allow you to view the ocean inside your RV.

One of our favorite things to do while staying at the resort is starting a fire right on the beach, in the areas where it is permitted. 

9. Second Beach (La Push)

🗸 Olympic National Park Wilderness Permit Required for Camping

Second Beach is just a short drive away from First Beach and our favorite La Push beach of the three.

As mentioned above, Second Beach is part of Olympic National Park.

The hike from the parking area to the beach descends through old-growth trees. It’s about .7 miles from the trailhead to the beach, and as you hike down, you’ll see and hear the ocean waves beckoning. 

At Second Beach, depending on the year and the amount the tides bring in, you may have to navigate a lot of driftwood at the end of the trail to get to the beach. Because of this, the hike to the beach may not be suitable for anyone with mobility issues, but conditions change from year to year.

Rock formations on Second Beach on an overcast day
The natural beauty of Second Beach is especially stunning on an overcast day.

The north end of the beach is where you’ll see the often-photographed natural arch.

Walking towards the south section of the beach offers expansive coastal views. I’ve spent entire afternoons on this section of the beach, mesmerized by its cliffs and rock formations.

The tide-pooling on this end is fantastic, but watch the water so you don’t get caught in an area that’s unpassable as the tide comes up.

The incredible views of Quillayute Needles National Wildlife Refuge off this beach’s coast make Second Beach one of my favorite beaches on the Olympic Peninsula.

10. Ruby Beach

🗸 Olympic National Park Pass Required

This Olympic National Park beach has grown in popularity over the years, likely due to its accessibility. It’s an easy-to-get-to stop off Highway 101, and it’s a quick walk down to the beach from the parking area.

Ruby Beach is a common destination before or after park visitors explore the Hoh Rain Forest, which is less than an hour away. Kalaloch Beach, next on this list, is only twenty minutes away.

The good thing is that Ruby Beach is big enough to handle inevitable summer crowds.

While the features of Ruby Beach are similar to what you’ll see at other beaches on the Pacific Ocean side of the Olympic Peninsula, Ruby Beach has a few unique qualities. 

Pink and orange skies at Ruby Beach, the best beach on the Olympic Peninsula for dramatic sunsets
Sunsets at Ruby Beach are incredible.

Almandite crystals, red in color, wash ashore here, giving Ruby Beach its name. 

Nearby Abbey Island is a large sea stack that offers excellent tide pools for exploring when the tide is low enough. 

Watching the sunset on Ruby Beach is a therapeutic experience; if the timing works for you to catch one, it’s highly recommended.

If you’ve been here, you know precisely why Ruby Beach is a favorite amongst Olympic National Park visitors.

11. Kalaloch Beach 4

🗸 Olympic National Park Pass Required

Don’t get me wrong. The Tree of Life on Kalaloch Beach is a must-see in this area. 

The Tree of Life is a Sitka Spruce tree located below the parking lot at Kalaloch Campground. This tree is unique because its roots are totally exposed and form the upper part of the “cave” below it. It straddles the cliffside of Kalaloch Beach and manages to stay alive despite erosion and winter storms.

But Beach 4, just a short 4-minute drive north from Kalaloch Beach, is the beach park rangers and anyone from this area recommends if this is your first time here. 

Taking the trail down is straightforward until you reach a large boulder you must climb over. There’s a rope available for assistance, but this bit of scrambling will prevent people with mobility issues from getting to the beach. 

Kalaloch Beach 4 is the best beach in Olympic National Park for tide pooling
Kalaloch Beach 4 offers some of the best tide-pooling experiences on the Olympic Peninsula. Look closely for sea anemones in this photo.

There are a few reasons why this Olympic National Park beach is cherished by locals. 

While rocky landscapes are ubiquitous up and down the coastline, the geology here is unique in that you’ll see layers of rock formed in the ocean and later lifted up from the seafloor to beach level.

The north end of the beach at low tide offers an unforgettable marine experience; be sure to explore the tide pools all over the rock formations there. If your timing is right, climb up on the rocks far enough to look out into the ocean where you might see orcas or even gray whales, depending on the time of year you visit. 

Beaches on the Puget Sound side

The Puget Sound side of the Olympic Peninsula is also scenic. But if you’re deciding where to spend your precious time, without a doubt, the other two sides feature more exciting coastline views.

12. Dosewallips

🗸 Discover Pass Required

Dosewallips is on this list because of the beauty of the Dosewallips Estuary. 

The EPA offers this simple definition of an estuary: a partially enclosed, coastal water body where freshwater from rivers and streams mixes with salt water from the ocean.

We RV camp at Dosewallips State Park almost every year. One of our favorite things to do here is walk from our campground at to the North Tidal Area Trail to get to the beach that looks out to Puget Sound. 

This is the view from a freestanding observation deck:

Narrow blue waterways and thick green sea grass at Dosewallips Estuary
These waterways are vital habitats for local migrating salmon.

These waters are nurseries for young fish and are the gateway from the river to the sea. These waters are also where physiological changes take place as salmon migrate between freshwater and saltwater.

Dosewallips has hiking trails and waterways for excellent kayaking. One year while kayaking here, we spotted a herd of close to thirty elks!

13. Fort Flagler State Park Beach

🗸 Discover Pass Required

With its stunning views of Puget Sound and the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges, Fort Flagler Historical State Park is an ideal place to spend a day at the beach.

The park is located on the northern end of Marrowstone Island, a six-square-mile island just off the northeastern tip of the Olympic Peninsula. 

I still remember the idyllic, small-town beach scene laid before me, driving into Fort Flagler for the first time. 

Kites zig-zagged in the wind. Kids splashed and played in the water. A family walked by, happily eating soft-serve ice cream. 

I couldn’t believe this gorgeous stretch of beach was only an hour from where we live.

Marrowstone Point and the Cascade Mountains in the distance at Fort Flagler State Park
Marrowstone Point and the Cascade Mountains in the distance at Fort Flagler State Park

There are over three miles of shoreline to walk here. There are also five miles of forest trails to hike and old military bunkers to explore.

Walking south on the beach from the lighthouse on Marrowstone Point on a clear day, you’ll see Mount Baker towards the north and Mount Rainier towards the south.  

When the weather’s hot, cool off by swimming in the protected cove to the left of Beachcomber Cafe.

For those seeking to recreate in the water, the bay between Marrowstone Island and neighboring Indian Island is calm enough to stand-up paddle. These waters are also great for kayaking.

Staying the night is a great way to ensure you have the time to experience all there is to do at Fort Flagler. Tent camping and RV camping are available, as well as vacation house rentals.

Olympic Peninsula Beaches for Camping

Visiting the Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National park can be done as a day trip from Seattle.

However, I recommend staying at least one night to give yourself the best experience. Three is even better.

All five of the places listed here offer tent sites, RV sites and amenities:

🗸 Quileute Oceanside Resort in La Push

Full hook-ups for RVs available

🗸 Salt Creek Recreation Area in Port Angeles

Electric and water hook-ups for RVs available

🗸 Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend

Full hook-ups for RVs available

🗸 Fort Flagler State Park in Nordland

Full hook-ups for RVs available

🗸 Kalaloch Campground near Forks

No hook-ups available for RVs

Family walking on trails at Fort Worden State Park, surrounded by tall evergreen trees
My family walking the trails at Fort Worden State Park

The best beaches for backpackers are Shi Shi Beach and Second Beach. The Ozette Loop (also known as Cape Alava Loop or Ozette Triangle) is also great for backpacking.

You’ll need an Olympic National Park Wilderness Permit to backpack.

Accommodations to Explore Olympic National Park Beaches

I love to RV camp, but sometimes our itinerary requires that we stay in cabins or hotels.

Here are some of the best places to stay when exploring beaches on the Olympic Peninsula.

🏨 The Tides Inn & Suites

This Port Townsend hotel is on the water, and I recommend booking a room with a water view. I stayed here in August and enjoyed coffee on the balcony, watching birds and boats go by.

The Tides Inn & Suites is off the main strip, where many restaurants and shops are located, but it’s a 10-minute walk to get to that area. The trade-off is that it’s quieter.

🏨 Dungeness Bay Cottages

These cozy cottages in Sequim are right across the street from the water. My friend and I filled our wine glasses and walked across the street to sit and watch the sunset.

Dungeness Bay Cottages are the perfect choice for exploring the Dungeness Spit and nearby lavender farms, for which Sequim is known. Dungeness Bay Cottages are less than one hour from Lake Crescent.

🏨 Olympic Lodge by Ayres

The staff here is what makes this lodge in Port Angeles so memorable. And their complimentary breakfast includes hot and cold selections.

Olympic Lodge by Ayres is forty minutes from Hurricane Ridge and thirty minutes from Lake Crescent, making it a convenient place to stay to explore Olympic National Park.

🏨 Apocalypto Motel

Staying at Apocalypto Motel in Neah Bay shortens the drive to Cape Flattery. The most incredible thing about staying here is the number of eagles you’ll see. They’re everywhere!

Apocalypto Motel is less than 20 minutes from Cape Flattery and less than 20 minutes from Shi Shi Beach.

🏨 Hoh Valley Cabins

Woods and trails surround these modern cabins near Forks. Previous guests stated that elk frequent the grounds, but we did not see any. Still, we enjoyed our time here immensely, spending time on the deck and walking the grounds.

The Hoh Valley Cabins are 22 minutes from the Hoh Rain Forest, and less than 30 minutes from Ruby Beach.

Olympic National Park’s Beaches Travel Guide

☀️ When’s the best time to visit Olympic Peninsula beaches?

The best time of year to travel to beaches on the Olympic Peninsula is from June through September when the weather is the warmest and driest. 

However, there’s no guarantee that it will be sunny or dry if you visit sometime during these summer months. As a local, I know that summer doesn’t always start until after the 4th of July. 

Also, keep in mind that these months are peak travel season. As a traveler, you won’t only be contending with visitors from other states or parts of the world but also people who live in Washington and the Pacific Northwest! 

Visiting during middle-to-late spring or early fall means fewer crowds and cheaper hotels. It may be chillier and wet, but the scenery will still be impressive. In fact, some argue that a bit of rain and overcast skies add to the drama and beauty of coastline landscapes.

🌊 Can I swim at Olympic Peninsula beaches in summer?

Fort Flagler State Park has a protected cove where swimming is relatively safe.

Other than that, swimming is not recommended due to frigid water temperatures, and can even be dangerous. Olympic National Park does not offer lifeguard services.

While it may be tempting to jump into the water, please use extreme caution when deciding whether or not to swim.

But – there is a distinction between swimming and wading. In summer, wading near shore with your back to the beach and not the ocean is a great way to cool off on a hot day. Just be sure to wear waterproof hiking sandals because these coasts are rocky.

 

🧳 What do I pack for Olympic Peninsula beaches?

Olympic Peninsula beaches are for walking, beachcombing, and marveling at the unique landscapes you’ll encounter. It’s pretty safe to say you will not need a bathing suit on these beaches. 

Your chances of good weather are high in late June through early September, but not promised. Because of this, you’ll want to pack layers of clothing to ensure you always stay warm and dry. 

JACKET – A zip-up softshell jacket with a hood is always a good idea in case the wind kicks up. I recommend finding a zip-up jacket made of fabric that breathes well and wicks away moisture. 

My love for softshell jackets cannot be overstated. I have found that they are the perfect article of clothing for various weather conditions. Highly recommend.

RAIN GEAR – A gore-tex jacket is essential when visiting this region, no matter the time of year. Keep it at the bottom of your backpack. Trust me, if you are caught in a rainstorm, you will not regret this purchase.

BACKPACK – Depending on the length of your beach adventure, a backpack is essential. It allows your hands to be free if you need to steady yourself while walking over driftwood or rocks. Additionally, a backpack has enough room for snacks and plenty of water. 

SHOES – For feet, at minimum, one should wear either sneakers with good tread or hiking sandals. A step above that would be hiking shoes.

Hiking boots are recommended if you plan to backpack and camp along the beach, but the gear list for that adventure is worthy of another guide!

Guide Wrap-Up: Best Beach Olympic Peninsula

Visit at least one of these thirteen beaches to make your Olympic National Park tour an unforgettable experience.

From camping to tide-pooling to marveling at exquisite views, these Washington beaches are some of the best in the Pacific Northwest.