Which La Push Beach is Best? Guide to All Three Beaches (2024)

Are you headed to La Push and wondering which is the best beach to visit?

I’ve visited La Push many times over the last decade and have spent long afternoons walking its incredible beaches. 

First Beach, Second Beach, and Third Beach are quintessential Washington beaches, similar in look and feel, but each has unique characteristics. 

In this article, I share everything you need to determine which La Push beach is worth a visit. I also highlight the best things to do, where to stay, how to camp on the beach, and tips for an unforgettable adventure.

Let’s get to it!

Quick Guide: Which La Push Beach is best?

woman walking on Second Beach on the Pacific Coast of the Olympic Peninsula
Me walking on the south end of Second Beach.
  • Best beach for accessibility – First Beach
  • Best beach for nearby amenities – First Beach
  • Best beach for taking photos – Second Beach
  • Best beach for tide-pooling – Second Beach
  • Best beach for privacy – Third Beach

La Push Beaches

The rugged and wild beaches of La Push look out to the Pacific Ocean, and the views are stunning. 

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

a natural arch and rocks scattered across the sand along the north end of Second Beach in Olympic National Park
The north end of Second Beach features a natural arch.

La Push is a coastal community on the Olympic Peninsula, approximately twenty minutes from the city of Forks. It’s home to the Quileute Tribe, who have lived here for thousands of years. 

Map of Beaches in La Push

First Beach

  • Permit: none required
  • Parking: free gravel parking lot
  • Hike: no hiking needed

The first time I ever walked First Beach (commonly referred to as La Push Beach), I marveled at the vast amount of driftwood here. Some were the base of large trees and massive. 

Of the three beaches, this one is the most accessible because you don’t have to hike to get to it. You can park and walk down a short, modestly steep path to the ocean.

I’ve read commentary online stating that First Beach is more pedestrian when compared to the other two. I agree that the other two beaches offer more to see and explore, but First Beach features James Island in the not-too-far-off distance. 

man staring at the ocean while sitting on driftwood on a cloudy day with James Island behind him
James Island on the right, known as Akalat (Top of the Rock) to the Quileute Tribe

This island is culturally and historically significant to the Quileute people. 

It was the site of a village in the 1800s, a sacred place where the bodies of high-status tribe members were placed in canoes on the island’s trees, a viewpoint for sighting whales, and a lookout to defend the tribe from potential threats.

The tribe invites visitors to enjoy the natural beauty of this coastline by staying at Quileute Oceanside Resort located on First Beach, which my husband, Colby, and I have done many times over the last decade.

First Beach is open to the public, but James Island is not. However, you can view it from a designated point at the north end of the beach.

a child wades in the water at La Push Beach while a surfers heads for the ocean waves behind him
A child wades in the water at First Beach while a surfer heads for the waves behind him. 

Despite the beach’s massive amounts of driftwood, there’s plenty of space for walking, building sand castles or driftwood forts, playing recreational games, and simply sitting and listening to the sound of the waves.

You do not need to stay at the resort to spend time on the beach.  

Don’t worry about timing your visit according to the tide chart. Second and Third Beaches are better for tide-pooling.

Second Beach

  • Permit: required only for overnight camping
  • Parking: spots next to trailhead and overflow lot nearby
  • Hike: 4 – 6 miles roundtrip

I remember a time before Second Beach’s popularity. In years past, we spent afternoons on this beach as one of only a handful of groups.

Now, Second Beach can feel busy depending on when you visit, and for good reason. It’s one of the Olympic Peninsula’s best beaches.

Dramatic cliffs and rocks on the beach with evergreen trees on top of them
Second Beach is magnificent even on an overcast day.

A short hike is required to get to this breathtaking beach. The trail is well-maintained, but I recommend wearing sturdy shoes to navigate occasional protruding tree roots.

Where the trail meets the beach is the busiest. Near this area is where you’ll find that most campers will set up camp.

If you arrive within an hour before low tide or at low tide on a day when the weather is favorable, you may have one of the best beach experiences of your life. 

During this time frame, you can access another smaller beach on the north end. This crescent-shaped beach is surrounded by rugged, towering cliffs on which evergreen trees surprisingly grow.

small beach surrounded by rocky cliffs and evergreen trees
This beautiful stretch of beach is on the north section of Second Beach.

Walking south, you’ll find fewer crowds and expansive ocean views.  

I highly recommend this beach hike! 

Over Memorial Day weekend, Colby and I hiked down to the beach, explored the north end, walked down to the south end and back, and my AllTrails app tracked 6.1 miles.

Third Beach

  • Permit: required only for overnight camping
  • Parking: parking lot next to trailhead
  • Hike: 4.2 miles roundtrip

Third Beach also requires a short hike to get to. When we visited the end of May, this trail was muddier in some areas than the trail to Second Beach. Be prepared to navigate over large tree roots on this trail, too.

When you arrive at the beach, you’ll see an enticing grouping of sea stacks in the distance, known as The Giants Graveyard, beckoning you to walk towards the south end. 

It’s this spectacular view that makes Third Beach a worthwhile destination.

a massive amount of driftwood lines the back end of a beach with sea stacks in the distance on a blue sky day
The view of Third Beach once you reach the beach from the trailhead.

If you plan to do this beach hike, there’s a large driftwood bridge to cross as you travel south.

Third Beach is the least frequented of the three, which will appeal to those who don’t want to be where the largest crowds are. 

It’s worth mentioning how quickly the weather can change in La Push. We started the day in overcast weather, and by the end of our adventure, the sky was blue, and we each took off our top layer of clothing. 

The south end of the beach at low tide offers a chance to see sea stars. But the small waterfall at this end is even more spectacular than the tide-pooling. 

small waterfall on a rocky cliff on Third Beach in Olympic National Park
This waterfall is a distinctive feature of Third Beach.

You’ll get the best view of the waterfall if you are able to climb a few big rocks, being careful not to disturb marine life.

Best Things to Do at La Push

1. Camp

Beach camping allows you to fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing. I’ve included a more detailed section on camping in this guide below.

2. Walk the beach

Walk the beach and marvel at expansive views of sea stacks peppering the Pacific coast. I walk First Beach every morning when we stay at Quileute Oceanside Resort. The weather changes daily, as does the activity on the beach, so it feels different every time.

3. Tide pool

Second Beach is the best beach for tide-pooling, but check the tide chart to know what time is low tide. Always walk cautiously over tide-pooling terrain and avoid stepping directly onto living organisms.

green sea anemones in a tidepool
Green anemones on Second Beach

4. See wildlife in their natural habitat

We like to walk to the north end of First Beach, sit on the rocks, and watch as seals bob in the water and birds dive to catch fish. You may even see whales from the beach if you visit in March/April or October.

5. Build a fort out of driftwood

The structures built out of driftwood on First Beach are quite impressive! Remember, driftwood cannot be taken from the beach.

6. Surf (or watch surfers!)

surfers in the water at La Push Beach on a cloudy day with sea stacks dotting the ocean in the distance
A surfer rides a wave at First Beach while others bob in the water.

Surf during the summer for smaller waves catering to all experience levels. Less experienced surfers should refrain from surfing during the winter months when powerful swells occur.

The Pacific Ocean water is frigid, so if you plan to surf, bring a wetsuit.

How to Get to La Push

There are many different ways to get to La Push from Seattle: taking the ferry from Seattle to the Kitsap Peninsula (two ferry options) and then driving to La Push, or driving south from Seattle to Tacoma and heading towards Quinault, located at the south side of the park, or Port Angeles, located near the north side of the park. 

map that shows the driving routes available from Seattle to La Push
Drive time will vary depending on the day, time, and season.

I live on the Kitsap Peninsula, and traveling through this area is a better choice for several reasons. 

First, you can take the ferry or drive around Puget Sound, allowing you to choose which is better for your schedule. Second, you’ll see amazing views of Lake Crescent along the way. 

looking out the windshield driving past Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park on a blue sky day with mountains in the background
View of Lake Crescent from the passenger seat of our RV, driving to La Push

To get from the Kitsap Peninsula to the Olympic Peninsula, you must cross the Hood Canal Floating Bridge, which opens for boats. Traffic can come to a complete stop for ten to 45 minutes when the bridge opens. Check for bridge openings here.

This past year, I crossed the bridge about ten times, and it opened only once. So don’t worry too much about the bridge!

Travel by Ferry

Seattle to Bremerton or Seattle to Bainbridge Island are two options if you travel by ferry. 

On a sunny day, you’ll see impressive views of Mount Rainier as you cross the water. 

While it’s possible to see orcas, in the decades I’ve lived here, I’ve seen them only once while taking the ferry! 

La Push Beach Parking

Public parking for First Beach in La Push is not obvious, so the map below shows you where to park. You can also type “James Island View Point” into your preferred GPS, which will take you to the gravel parking lot along the beach.

Public parking for Second and Third beaches is easy to find. Use GPS and search for either trailhead, and you can park in a small lot next to each trailhead.

Second Beach has an overflow parking lot that is easy to find off the main road, not too far from the trailhead. 

Third Beach has a larger parking lot, but it can fill up quickly during peak travel season.

La Push Hotels: Where to Stay

📍Nearest Cabins

Quileute Oceanside Resort is on First Beach and offers cabins facing the water. You can also RV camp and tent camp here.

📍Best Budget Spot

Forks Motel is clean, comfortable, close to restaurants, and only twenty minutes from First Beach.

📍Best Mid-Range Spot

Quillayute River Resort offers charming accommodations with river beach access. It’s ten minutes from First Beach.

📍Best Bed & Breakfast

Misty Valley Inn feels tucked away in the forest, even though it’s right off the 101. It’s eighteen minutes from First Beach.

La Push Beach Camping

First Beach Camping

Camping is available only at Quileute Oceanside Resort, and camping is prohibited on the beach. All sites are within a short walk to the beach.

  • Glamping (small A-Frame unit)
  • RV camping
  • Tent camping 

Second Beach and Third Beach Camping

  • Tent camping only
scene of La Push beach camping and tents on Second Beach as two children play in the sand
Camping is busiest near the trail’s end on the beach. Privacy is available further south.

A few sites are available in the forest, but many spots are available on the beach.

Know where the high tide line is so you’re not woken up by ocean water filling your tent at night!

There are pit toilets at both beaches where the trail ends at the beach.

⚠️ Parasites exist in coastal lakes, streams, and rivers, so filter or boil all collected water.

La Push Weather

Like the rest of the Olympic Peninsula, your best chance for good weather is from the end of June to the end of August. 

Depending on the year, May and September can be dry or wet. These are still popular months to visit.

The rainy season begins in October and lasts through April, with November through January being the wettest. 

No matter the season, I’ve found weather apps unreliable because the weather can quickly change in La Push. I’ve included a section on what to pack below. (Hint: bring layers!)

people walking on Second Beach around a big rock on the beach on a cloudy day
Overcast days are typical in May.

Tips for Visiting La Push

La Push beaches are known for their massive amounts of driftwood, which can make access to the beaches challenging for those with mobility issues. Walking sticks or trekking poles will help you to stay balanced. 

⚠️ Always know if the areas you walk require low tide to pass.

anemones and rocks in the sand
Avoid stepping on sea life as you walk on the beach at low tide.

🧳 What to Pack for La Push Beaches

Even in summer, good weather is not promised. Because of this, you’ll want to pack layers to add or remove clothing easily.

JACKET – A zip-up softshell jacket with a hood is always good to bring in case it becomes windy. Find a jacket made of fabric that breathes well and wicks away moisture. 

My love for softshell jackets cannot be overstated! They are the perfect article of clothing for various weather conditions and can be tied around your waist if needed.

RAIN GEAR – A gore-tex jacket is essential when visiting this region, no matter the time of year. If unexpected rain occurs, you will not regret packing this at the bottom of your backpack.

BACKPACK – A backpack carrying snacks, water, additional clothing, and sun protection is essential. It allows your hands to be free while walking over driftwood or rocks.

SHOES Sturdy shoes with good tread are highly recommended for visiting Second and Third Beaches since you have to hike to get to the beach.

☀️ Best Time to Visit La Push

The best time to visit La Push is from the end of June through September when the weather is the warmest and driest. If you want to avoid this peak travel season, the best time to visit is middle-to-late spring or early fall.

🌊 Can Anyone Visit La Push?

Yes. You do not need to stay at Quileute Oceanside Resort to visit First Beach. Second and Third Beaches are part of Olympic National Park and open to the public.

🧛🏻‍♂️Where is La Push Beach from Twilight?

La Push is approximately twenty minutes away from Forks, Washington, the town that is the setting of author Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series. La Push is prominent in the second book, New Moon, as Bella’s family friend, Jacob Black’s hometown.

La Push Beaches Guide Wrap-Up

Second Beach is the best La Push beach for stunning coastline views, marveling at towering cliffs, exploring tide pools, and viewing wildlife. It’s one of the best beaches at Olympic National Park and worth a stop on your park tour.