Are you searching for the best activities and attractions in Neah Bay?
I spent one summer weekend exploring Neah Bay’s incredible outdoor destinations, including Cape Flattery and Shi Shi Beach.
This small coastal town on Makah tribal land is the perfect home base to explore this northwesterly region of the Olympic Peninsula.
In this article, I’ll share fifteen things to do in Neah Bay that you don’t want to miss.
15 Things to Do in Neah Bay
From seeing wildlife to beach hiking to learning the history and culture of the Makah Tribe, there’s so much to do here.
1. Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway Drive
The first on this list happens before you get to Neah Bay.
It’s the scenic drive from Port Angeles, Highway 112 heading west, a route so remarkable it was declared a national scenic byway in 2000.
It features sweeping views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island.
It’s arguably the best shoreline driving in all of Washington.
You won’t regret giving yourself time to pull over to take in the rocky coastline, beaches, and bays surrounded by beautiful forests.
Driving the speed limit gives you the best chance to pull over safely to park. If you see other parked cars, that’s generally an indication there’s something worth stopping to see.
I saw two cars on the side of the road, so I pulled over.
2. Cape Flattery Trail
- Hike length: 1.2 miles roundtrip
- Elevation gain: 229 feet
- Difficulty: Easy
- Restrooms: At trailhead
Cape Flattery is a world-class, must-see destination at the northwest corner of the continental United States.
It’s one of my top five places tourists should visit on the Olympic Peninsula because it hits that sweet spot of being mind-blowingly beautiful and relatively easy to access.
Dramatic sea cliffs jut into the Pacific Ocean as waves crash below you, ebbing to reveal a stunning aquamarine color.
Depending on the time of year you visit this scenic trail, you may even see gray whales or a pod of orcas.
You’ll see Tatoosh Island and the Cape Flattery Lighthouse from the last of four viewpoints.
It’s an easy hike, but you’ll have to navigate tree roots and a narrow wood boardwalk.
3. Shi Shi Beach
- Hike length: 8.8 miles roundtrip
- Elevation gain: 561 feet
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Restroom: At trailhead
Shi Shi Beach is undoubtedly beautiful, but getting there requires a forest hike notorious for long sections of mud and a beach hike to reach its crowning glory destination, Point of Arches.
Point of Arches is an extraordinary configuration of rocks at the beach’s south end best explored at low tide.
If you don’t have the time to hike to Point of Arches, skip Shi Shi Beach altogether.
I wish I had brought my Teva sandals when I did this hike.
I wore my hiking boots in preparation for the mud, but my Tevas would have allowed me to walk through the water at Point of Arches instead of around it. But the inconvenience was minor.
4. Hobuck Beach
You don’t need to stay at Hobuck Beach Resort to visit this easy-to-stroll, crescent-shaped beach.
You can spend the entire day here if you choose as long as you have a Makah Recreational Pass, and I highly recommend it.
It’s an ideal destination in summer because there are so many water activities here. The resort rents surfboards, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards.
I saw a dad and child casting their fishing lines here and groups simply walking the beach.
Surfers come here year-round. It’s a good beach for beginners because of its shallow and sandy bottom.
5. Sooes (Tsoo-Yess) Beach
Sooes Beach is conveniently located between Hobuck Beach and Shi Shi Beach, and you’ll see glimpses of it as you drive to the Shi Shi Beach trailhead.
When I drove past this beach, its beauty compelled me to stop, but I didn’t because I wanted to get to Point of Arches by low tide.
It’s less frequented than the other beaches in the area, and some locals say it’s the best beach in Neah Bay.
Sooes Beach is an excellent place for beach walking, tide-pooling, and watching the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.
Cape Flattery is the best spot in Neah Bay for bird watching, but birds also abound in the Waatch River valley and all the river and ocean beaches.
The natural environment of this region features sea cliffs and caves, sea stacks and islands in the Pacific Ocean, and coastal forests, providing refuge and habitat for birds.
From the second of four viewpoints at Cape Flattery, I loved watching the Pigeon Guillemots perch on shallow rock ledges along the frame of a large sea cave and hearing their high-pitched birdsong.
7. Kayak or SUP the Sooes River
The Sooes River is a hidden gem just a few minutes south of Hobuck Beach.
On my drive to Shi Shi Beach, I saw a delightful scene of kayakers on the river. The water was calm, and it looked like a leisurely paddle.
You can access the river near its mouth just past Bahobohosh Point heading south, an incredible river beach where you can walk or swim on a hot summer day.
Parking is available at the day-use area and on the side of the road close to where the Sooes River empties into Makah Bay.
8. Fish with Big Salmon Fishing Resort
According to the Big Salmon Fishing Resort website, Neah Bay has some of the “best fishing in the world!”
I don’t know if that’s true, but from their Google reviews, people catch a lot of fish in the area and love the guides and crews.
Big Salmon offers guided salmon and halibut fishing trips, bottom fishing trips, and charter boat trips, along with launching, boat moorage, and fishing supplies such as bait.
You can even rent a boat from them.
9. Lake Ozette
Lake Ozette is a serene body of water that reflects the sky’s ever-changing hues, surrounded by old-growth forests.
Whether you seek to kayak across the glass-like surface or hike the adjacent trails that take you to the ocean, this lake offers an idyllic escape.
You can rent kayaks from Ozette Kayak Rentals, located 12 miles from the lake.
Although this part of Olympic National Park is less frequented due to its remote location, the campground here gets busy in the summer. All 15 sites offer great views of the lake.
This trip is best to do either before you arrive at Neah Bay or on your way out because it’s about an hour and twenty minutes away.
On the Ozette loop hike, you’ll see petroglyphs carved by the Ozette people 200-500 years ago. In the 1970s, this area was the site of a major archaeological dig, the exploits of which you can see at the Makah Museum.
10. Makah Cultural and Research Center
The Makah Museum, as it’s often referred to, is a treasure trove of history and culture, offering an intimate look at the Makah Tribe’s vital relationship with the land and water.
From intricately woven baskets to replicated cedar whaling canoes, the museum brings the tribe’s past to life, providing a beneficial context to visitors of their land on which we have the pleasure to recreate.
Allow 1-2 hours to explore.
My favorite exhibit is the room with the nearly 30-foot-long whale skeleton. You really get a sense of the deep connection the Makah people have with the ocean.
The Makah Cultural and Research Center is a must-visit for anyone interested in Native American history or anthropology.
It’s also an excellent destination to introduce children to Native culture.
11. Fort Nunez Gaona – Diah Veterans Park
This small park is a tribute to Makah veterans and the people’s shared past with the Spanish. A comprehensive visit here takes only 15 minutes.
You’ll learn about the history of Spain’s settlement in Neah Bay, built in 1792, the first in what would later be the state of Washington.
I recommend stopping here to learn how this region and the strait were significant to European colonial powers.
From the park, you get some of the best views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
An added bonus is that it is next to Calvin’s Crab House, where tasty fast food is served.
12. Makah Days
Makah Days is an annual event in Neah Bay that is open to anyone interested in commemorating the Makah people’s ancient culture and the anniversary of them becoming citizens of the United States.
Every August, on the weekend closest to the actual anniversary on the 26th, the tribe celebrates with activities and events such as traditional dancing, war canoe races, salmon bakes, a parade, fireworks, and the coronation of Makah Royalty.
Makah Days is a fantastic community event that celebrates native culture in the Pacific Northwest and how it thrives today.
13. Dakwas Park Beach
Dakwas Park Beach is located in the town of Neah Bay, making it a convenient beach to walk and watch the sunset if you stay the night.
I visited this beach on a Sunday morning, and it was quiet; no one else was there.
Birds gathered on the shore as gentle waves came in and out. The mountains of Vancouver Island across the strait were visible, and it was a serene place to enjoy my coffee.
This is an excellent beach for families because a park with modern playground equipment is next to it.
14. Makah Marina
If you spend enough time in Neah Bay, you get the sense that the Makah Marina is the hub of the town. That’s where all the action was when I visited.
Even if you don’t own a boat, it’s worth a quick stop to feel the maritime atmosphere that is a big part of Neah Bay’s identity.
Also, the marina is one place you can see native art embedded in everyday life.
My husband, Colby, and I ate here after visiting Cape Flattery. It was Sunday and peak travel season, so they were busy and, unfortunately, out of crab until Tuesday.
But I’m a glutton for fish and chips, and theirs was tasty! The batter wasn’t heavy or greasy, and the fish was fresh.
On the walls here, you’ll see interesting photos of fishing and whaling adventures.
The outdoor seating area faces the strait, so you won’t find better views at another local restaurant.
The downside is there’s no bathroom, only a honey bucket.
Visiting Neah Bay: FAQs
Below are some commonly asked questions about Neah Bay.
🌎 Where is Neah Bay?
Neah Bay is a small coastal town on the Makah Reservation located on the most northwestern point of Washington State. It’s not part of Olympic National Park but is close to park destinations such as Shi Shi Beach and Lake Ozette.
🌊 What is Neah Bay known for?
Neah Bay is a world-class travel destination for naturalists and outdoor and fishing enthusiasts. It’s renowned for dramatic natural landscapes like Cape Flattery and Point of Arches and outdoor activities ranging from beach hiking to kayaking to bird-watching and fishing.
Native peoples from Washington and Vancouver Island come here every August for Makah Days.
☀️ When is the best time to visit Neah Bay?
The best chance for cooperative weather to recreate outside is spring through fall. In winter, storms and swells are the norm, making Hobuck Beach a surfing destination for more experienced surfers. If you’d like to avoid the summer crowds, I recommend visiting in May, September, or October.
🌄 Is Neah Bay worth visiting for a day?
Absolutely! With thoughtful planning, including checking the tide chart, you can see the top attractions of Cape Flattery, Point of Arches on Shi Shi Beach, and the Makah Museum in one summer day. To experience all the natural beauty this area offers, stay at least one night.
How to Get to Neah Bay
Plan for a 4 – 5 hour trip from Seattle, depending on traffic.
Driving south through Tacoma to get to the Kitsap Peninsula is one route. The alternative is to take the Bainbridge Ferry.
You’ll cross the Hood Canal Bridge to get to the Olympic Peninsula.
The signs for Highway 101 are easy to spot. You’ll drive through Port Angeles before veering onto the 112 to head west.
Remember to give yourself time to enjoy this leg of the journey because it’s the best coastal drive in the state!
Where to Stay in Neah Bay
This small town offers a range of comfortable accommodation options. If you’re looking for high-end lodging, stay in Port Angeles, about 1 hour 45 minutes away.
📍 Cape Resort
This no-frills resort offers small cabins, bunkhouses, RV spots with full hookups, and a grassy area for camping. We stayed here in our RV, and the staff was helpful.
📍 Hobuck Beach Resort
This resort is located on the beach and offers cabins, RV spots with full hookups, and a meadow for camping. The South Cabins have the best views of the ocean.
Don’t be turned off by the motel’s exterior because it’s much nicer on the inside. Both rooms offered at this small motel are spacious and feature a soaking tub.
Wrap-Up: Things to Do Neah Bay
This region features some of the best coastlines and scenery in all of Washington.
With so many cultural and outdoor activities to do in Neah Bay, it’s a worthwhile stop on your Olympic Peninsula tour.