A Local’s Guide to the Best Beaches of Olympic National Park
Living in Seattle means I’m a short drive from Olympic National Park and its incredible beaches. I love the beaches of Washington — they might not be as well known as those farther south along the west coast, but they’re worth checking out even if they require a hike to get to.
Spoiler alert: a hike to a beach often means fewer crowds and more space to enjoy the beaches and their incredible seastacks, driftwood, and miles upon miles of coastline.
Here is my guide to the Olympic National Park beaches you don’t want to miss.
Shi Shi Beach
For the first beach, we’re starting up on the northwest corner of Washington on a remote part of the coastline called Shi Shi Beach, only accessible via an hour or two hike. The beach is part of Olympic National Park, though the trail to get to it goes through the Makah Indian Reservation, so you’ll need permits for both. Shi Shi Beach is known for sprawling tide pools and photo-worthy sea stacks.
The photo above is the Point of Arches on the south end of Shi Shi Beach, which is worth the just over 2-mile hike to reach it (after the other hike to just get to the ocean). Many people do the hike and then camp overnight right on Shi Shi Beach. Just be sure to get the right permits…and to set up your tent above the high tide water line!
By La Push, Washington, you’ll find a series of three beaches: First Beach, Second Beach, and Third Beach. While all the beaches are gorgeous, Second Beach stands out for its sea stacks and being a bit more secluded than First Beach, but not as remote as Third Beach (which is quite a hike to get to).
Second Beach still requires a short hike to get to that is under a mile. Once you arrive to the sand, you’ll be wowed by the massive sea stack in front of you and other rock structures as well as the opportunity to see wildlife like seals and bald eagles.
Ruby Beach is often considered to be the most beautiful beach in Washington. That’s subjective of course, but there’s no denying it’s absolutely gorgeous with its sea stacks and the large pieces of driftwood scattered across the beach.
Ruby Beach gets its name due to tiny red rocks that often wash ashore and which can give the beach a reddish hue. Ruby Beach is also known for tidepools with colorful sea anemones and a large sandbar. You’ll find the trail to Ruby Beach located off of Hwy 101 in the Kalaloch part of Olympic National Park. The steep trail and driftwood that has to be climbed over to access the beach helps to keep away large crowds. And — as you may have guessed — it’s a beautiful place to catch a sunset!
Rialto Beach is one of those beaches that seems to epitomize the Pacific Northwest. Sprawling coastline dotted with rocks and driftwood and massive sea stacks topped with pine trees.
Just like the other beaches that are in Olympic National Park, you’ll need a park pass to access Rialto Beach, but it’s worth it to see this gorgeous beach, especially if you keep making your way to Hole-in-the-Wall, an iconic hike (that must be done at low tide!) that traverses the coastline of the beach and takes you to an impressive rock arch. But even if you don’t do that hike and you just sit on Rialto Beach at its main access point, you’re in for incredible views.