The upper left corner of the country gets a bad rap because of all the rain, but for what the Pacific Northwest lacks in consistent sunshine, it makes up for with pristine wilderness, incredible seafood, and some of the most majestic scenery nature has to offer.
The same is true of the Washington and Oregon coast. And while the unforgiving weather may dampen days spent at the beach for much of the year, the abundance of nature, monolithic shorelines, and sunshine that accompanies the summer months make the Pacific Northwest coast a beach experience like no other. Here are some of the best beaches in the Pacific Northwest has to offer.
Cannon Beach, Oregon
Cannon Beach is more famous for Haystack Rock than it is for the US Navy cannon that washed ashore here in the mid-1800’s, after which the town is named. This quaint little village on the Oregon coast offers one of the most popular beaches in the region. A day, or even a week here can be spent walking the miles of beach outside of town, searching for sea anemones in the shadow of Haystack Rock, or simply relaxing while waiting for an incredible pacific sunset.
Deception Pass State Park, Whidbey Island, Washington
This is one of the most popular state parks in Washington thanks to the scenery. Old-growth forests meet jutting rock cliffs that look out over the Pacific Ocean as spray and mist come crashing up from below. Located about nine miles north of Oak Harbor, the park offers beachgoers 38 miles of hiking trails, six miles of horse trails, as well as three miles of bike trails.
The town of Seaside is what makes this beach so special. To the north of town is the Estuary, a converging point of three streams that is very popular with bird watchers and photographers. To the south of town is Surfer’s Cove and boast a beautiful rocky shore. But most popular spot for beach goers in Seaside is The Turnaround where the town meets the beach, and the town’s famous promenade extends in either direction. With hotels and a vibrant downtown so close to the beach, Seaside can get a little crowded in the summer. Enough so that lifeguards are on duty at the beach for part of the year.
Westport Beach, Washington
One of the few beaches in the Pacific Northwest that can be considered a hot spot for surfers, Westport Beach is one of the easiest ocean beaches to visit from Seattle. This wide, long beach offers visitors a chance to surf and go clamming in the same day. Along with the beach itself, there are a number of affordable hotel rooms and vacation rentals available in the area, as well as local shops and a family friendly atmosphere that make Westport Beach a great place to bring the entire family.
Pacific City, Oregon
Oregon’s other Haystack Rock sits about a mile offshore from the four-mile long beach across the Nestucca River from Pacific City. The sandy beach itself attracts crowds during the summer months, but many visitors to Pacific City choose to hike the trails of Cape Kiwanda in order to take in breathtaking views of waves crashing into sandstone channels.
Alki Beach, West Seattle, Washington
This West Seattle beach may seem more suited for Southern California than the Pacific Northwest. Visitors to Alki can peer across the Puget Sound towards Seattle as they walk through the sand before crossing the street to stroll along the strip of restaurants and shops that make this beach so special. After dinner groups of beachgoers can be found around fire pits, watching the sun go down on the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound.