La Push at sunset with birds

The best 8 beaches in Washington State

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Are there good beaches in Washington State? HECK YES! Can you swim in Washington Beaches? Eh…maybe, if you are brave!

Awesome beaches may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Washington State. You may visualize the Space Needle, Pikes Public Market, or any of the 3 drop-dead gorgeous National Parks tucked into the state, but a trip to Washington State SHOULD also include a few stops to the beaches.

Before you grab your bikini you may want to finish reading first. Washington State beaches are NOT, and I cannot stress this enough, they are NOT the same as Florida or California beaches. I remember the first time I took my kids to a beach in Washington after moving here from California, we got there (in hoodies, and sweats) and they said “where is the REAL beach?” Once you get the ideal tropical beach vision out of your head, you can begin to appreciate how unique and absolutely stunning the Washington State beaches are.

Beaches in Washington State Map

Map created with Wanderlog, for itineraries on iOS and Android

So, what are the prettiest beaches in Washington State: Read more to find out!

Best Beaches in Washington State – Rialto Beach

Rialto Beach is one of the best beaches in Washington State
Rialto Beach Driftwood

Visit this beach in Washington for a super moody vibe.

Rialto Beach is located about 75 miles west of Port Angeles, near La Push.

This beach is unique and fun to explore. Located in Olympic National Park, this beach is guaranteed to be like no other beach you’ve ever seen. The beach itself is rocky. It is about 1.5 miles and a great walk. It’s fun to watch the surfers and the waves are usually pretty decent-sized.

Rialto beach is a “tree graveyard” with hundreds of tree trunks downed and brought in from storms. Climbing over the downed trees, as well as looking at the ones still standing make for a totally cool beach experience.

There is a great hike from Rialto beach too! The “hole in the wall” hike is just under 3.5 miles round trip and heads out to awesome tide pools, sea stacks, and driftwood, and is one of the best hikes in Olympic National Park.

Because Rialto is part of a National Park you’ll want to have paid the National Park fee and have your ticket on the windshield. The Current prices for National Park fees are $30 dollars per car for a 7-day pass, or you can get an America the Beautiful Pass and use it for 12 months.


Best Beaches in Washington State- Ruby Beach

Seastacks at Ruby Beach

Visit this Washington Beach for amazing scenery

Ruby beach is located in Kalaloch and is part of Olympic National Park. This beach is awesome for tide pools, and sea stacks and is so, so pretty! Getting down to the beach is a short walk, but note that it’s pretty steep downhill, and then you have to crawl over a few logs. It is not too difficult, but know that it is not just a straight shot from your car either.

You can spend the day exploring the different sea stacks and driftwood. There is plenty of space to spread out and relax too. On bright blue sunny days, the sea stacks and sand are beautiful. My favorite time is when it is cloudy and gloomy I love the way the sea stacks look as they emerge from the clouds.

Because Ruby is part of a National Park you’ll want to have paid the National Park fee and have your ticket on the windshield. The Current prices for National Park fees are $30 dollars per car for a 7-day pass, or you can get an America the Beautiful Pass and use it for 12 months.

Ruby and Rialto and Shi Shi Beaches are part of the Olympic National Park. This means no flying drones, and no removing anything such as driftwood, shells or rocks”.

Best Beaches in Washington State- Shi Shi Beach

Shi Shi Beach at Sunset
Photo by Kundan Rai on Unsplash

Visit this Washington Beach to camp on the beach and see Point of Arches

Shi Shi beach is the most northern of beaches in Washington State, and it is not to be missed!

Shi She beach is SO FREAKING PRETTY! It is part of Olympic National Park, but the trail to get there passes through Makah Nation Land. You have to hike about 2 miles through wet, muddy terrain to get to the beach, but once you do you’ll realize it’s all been worth it. You can day hike here or pitch a tent and sleep on the beach.

Shi Shi is rugged, natural, and pristine. It will likely be one of the prettiest, most untouched beaches you’ll ever experience. Point of Arches (a string of sea stacks) is considered one of the most picturesque scenes in Washington State.

You’ll need to get a pass from the Makah Tribe a $20 per vehicle fee to spend the night. Here is the website to the Makah Tribe to help you find out how to get the pass.

You can try beach camping while visiting Shi Shi, it is one of the most incredible ways to enjoy this beach.

Best Beaches in Washington State- Kalaloch Beach

Kalaloch Beach, Washington
Tree of Life Olympic National Park

Visit this Washington State Beach for the Tree of life

Just a bit down from Ruby Beach sits Kalaloch Beach. This sandy, wide, and Long Beach is a great beach to spend the day relaxing! The sand is nicer than Ruby or Rialto and the sheer cliffs lining the beach are gorgeous.

The real treat at this beach is the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is a Sitka Tree that is perched between 2 cliff edges where erosion has eaten the dirt away exposing the roots. It’s a sight to be seen, and unlike anything, I’ve ever seen. I have a complete post on the Tree of Life that you can use to get more information on this one-of-a-kind tree! As of April 2022, the Kalaloch Tree of life is still standing, but it is deteriorating, so go soon!

There is no fee to go to Kalaloch Beach.

Beaches in Washington State- Dungeness Spit

Visit this Washington Beach for wildlife viewing

Dungeness Spit is one of my personal favorite beaches in Washington State. The Dungeness Spit is located near Sequim Washington at the top of the Olympic Peninsula. If you aren’t familiar with the word “spit” it means a piece of beach that extends into the ocean, connected to land on one side. The Dungeness Spit is the longest natural spit in the United States at just about 5 miles long!

Be sure and go at low tide and you can walk the distance of the spit. Sitting at the end is a historic lighthouse that you can tour and climb all the way to the top!

Be sure to leave enough time during low tide to get back! Remember its 5 miles each way through sand. If the tide comes in you’ll either have to climb over driftwood, or possibly not make it back!

You can also just enjoy the beach without walking down to the lighthouse. The area is a wildlife refuge. We always see bald eagles when we are there, and there are many other birds too! One day, we saw 4 different eagles on our hike!

The fee to get to the beach is $3 per group or family to help the wildlife refuge.

Beaches in Washington State-Ocean Shores

car driving on beach at Ocean Shores

Visit this Washington Beach for a chance to drive on the beach

YEP! I said to drive on the beach. Ocean Shores beach is a state highway! The speed limit is 25, and you’ll want to stay on the packed sand so you don’t get stuck. It is so fun to drive out to the beach, and just unload your picnic stuff right there instead of carrying it in!

Ocean shores has wide beaches and is excellent for spending the day, flying a kite, and watching birds.

It is located about 1.5 hours west of Olympia (the state capitol). There is plenty of lodging and food in the town of Ocean Shores too!

There is no fee for using the beach

Beaches in Washington State – Long Beach

Long Beach Washington
Photo: wikimedia Commons

Visit this Washington Beach for the beach

Long Beach is probably the most “beachy” of the beaches in Washington State. It is miles and miles of nice sand, features a boardwalk, and cute towns and shops nearby. The Long Beach Peninsula is home to Cape Disappointment (anything but disappointing), North Head Light House, and a kite museum. You can easily spend the weekend exploring and enjoying this beautiful area.

There is no fee on the beaches, but to go to Cape Disappointment, you will have to pay for the state park day pass.

Washington State Beaches – Alki Beach

Alike Beach Washington
photo: wiki commons

Visit this Washington State Beach for the FUN!

Alki Beach is located in West Seattle on the Puget Sound. It’s not the biggest beach, but it’s super fun and close to Seattle if that’s where you are visiting. The sand here is nicer than some of the coastal beaches which tend to be a bit rocky.

You can walk along the 2.5-mile walkway or rent a bike. There is volleyball, food, and great people watching. My favorite part of Alki Beach is the view of Seattle. You can look across the water and see the skyline of the city.

There is no charge for the beach, but parking will cost you.

Fun Fact: Alki Beach is where the first white settlers landed in Seattle. They were met by Chief Seattle of the Duwamish people, who were Native to the area.

Well, there you have it. The 8 best beaches in Washington State! Which one will you try first? Did I miss your favorite? Let me know! And remember, you might want to pack a raincoat and something warm for your beach day!!

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