Are you interested in the best beaches in Olympic National Park? Look no further as we cover the fantastic options you can see while in Washington!
As seasoned National Park explorers, we’ve journeyed far and wide across the country, reveling in the unspoiled beauty of America’s wild landscapes.
From the wilds of Yellowstone to the grandeur of the Grand Canyon, we’ve experienced firsthand the stunning diversity our national parks offer.
But among these majestic locations, Olympic National Park, with its unique combination of glaciated mountains, temperate rainforests, and rugged coastline, holds a special place in our hearts.
We’ve tread the sandy expanses of its beaches, watched the sun dip below the horizon, painted the sky in orange and purple hues, and listened to the rhythmic lullaby of the waves against the shore.
We believe that every beach in Olympic National Park has a story to tell, a unique character that sets it apart.
Whether it’s the towering sea stacks of Rialto Beach, the driftwood-lined shoreline of Ruby Beach, or the secluded beauty of Shi Shi Beach, we’re excited to share our tips and recommendations so that you have an unforgettable experience on your visit.
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12 Best Beaches In Olympic National Park
Let’s get straight to the nitty-gritty and talk about the beach options.
1. Shi Shi Beach
Hike to Beach: 8.8-miles roundtrip
Located at the Northeastern tip of Olympic National Park, this is one of the furthest hikes to reach a beach, which is why so many people choose to pass this one up.
But those that have taken the time to visit Shi Shi Beach often call it one of the most beautiful beaches in the park.
While the hike is long, most of it is relatively easy and flat. Only the final section is steep and considered moderate. But if you have made it to the end, we don’t expect you will give up on the last little bit.
With the beach being remote and less visited, this is the perfect place for a bit of solitude and a gorgeous sunset. But in the summer, expect some crowds on the weekends for camping.
With the beach mainly sand, you will find sea stacks and tide pools to keep you busy.
Look for bald eagles and whales. During whale-watching season, this is one of the best places to spot them (the season is Oct-July, with May being a peak time).
To access this beach you will have to pass through Makah Tribal Lands, so in addition to paying to access Olympic National Park, you will also need to pick up a Makah recreation pass at Neah Bay.
If you are camping, you will also need the Wilderness Camping Permit.
2. Beach Near Ozette
Hike to the Beach from Ozette to Cape Alava: 6.9-miles roundtrip
Hike the Ozette triangle: 9.4-miles roundtrip
We are getting these long hiking recommendations out of the way early on our list of best beaches in Olympic National Park.
This is the furthest you will have to go to see a beach on our list if you go the triangle route, but we believe the hike is well worth seeing what this beach has to offer.
The Ozette triangle will have you taking a raised boardwalk down to Sand Point, where you will reach the beach.
You will walk the beach north until you reach Cape Alava, then head back on a different boardwalk to your starting point. You can, of course, do this in the opposite direction.
The boardwalk portion of the hike is gorgeous, through dense forests, and when you finally reach the beach, you will be greeted with incredible beach views of rocky shorelines, sea stacks, and tide pools.
This is the only beach where you will find petroglyphs on our list.
Almost in the middle of your beach hike portion, you will find an area called wedding rocks, where you can see the drawings.
📎 Tip: When you hit Cape Alava, look to the north to find Tskawahya Island, the westernmost point of the Continental USA.
3. Rialto Beach
Hike to Beach: 0 miles
Hole in the Wall hike along the beach: 3.4-miles roundtrip
Rialto Beach is right off the parking lot, making it a perfect beach for those that can’t or don’t enjoy long hikes. And you can experience much of the same scenery you might enjoy at the other beaches listed.
It features a forested coastline, sea stacks, driftwood, and tide pools. And is one of the beaches where surfers can be seen regularly.
While hiking isn’t mandatory to reach the beach, we want to mention an incredible hike you can do ALONG this beach. Rialto Beach is famous for its hole-in-the-wall hike.
This roundtrip hike takes you north from the parking area along the sandy beach.
It is considered a moderate hike as you will be walking in sand and sometimes have to crawl over debris like driftwood. The final destination is a sea stack with a hole in the center, hence the name.
Along the way, look for wildlife such as otters and bald eagles.
This hike is recommended for low tide. When you reach the end, you can pass through the hole and experience some of the best tide pools to find urchins, anemones, crabs, and starfish.
Do not cross to the other side at high tide; you can get stuck when the tide comes in. Instead, you must use the trail that heads above the arch and can take in the views from there.
If you feel uncomfortable hiking alone with the unknown rising tides, hiking with a guide is always a great option.
4. First Beach (aka La Push Beach)
Hike to Beach: 0 miles
Technically, this beach isn’t located in Olympic National Park.
It is the only one on our list that is here by a technicality. But the other beaches around the community of La Push are actually located in the park. So it made sense to mention this one because it borders the others and is well-known.
This beach is located on the Quileute Tribal Reservation.
You may not recognize the name First Beach, but you have most likely seen it if you are a vampire or fantasy fan.
The beach is famous and is often visited due to its Twilight franchise fame. This is the beach where Bella and Jacob go with her friends for a fun day in the first movie. It makes an appearance again in a later film as well.
First beach is close to a parking lot, making it easy to visit.
It is the perfect place to slip your shoes off and walk along the shoreline, as much of the beach is sand. You will find sea stacks, plenty of driftwood logs, and a few tide pools to peak your interest. You might also see a few local surfers out in the water.
Because this is on Tribal land, please follow their rules while on the beach. One of the tribe’s requests is not to pick up and take anything with you found on the beach, including rocks, driftwood, feathers, and more.
If you are a Twilight fan, you might want to swing by Forks after visiting the beach and get your photo taken with the town sign. The town is only about 15 miles away from the beach and is where Bella lived in the movies.
5. Second Beach
Hike to Beach: 2.1-miles roundtrip
Second Beach is back to being part of Olympic National Park.
It is the most popular of the three beaches in the La Push area and the beach we choose to visit amongst the best beaches in Olympic National Park.
The trail to the beach is easy, but often there is driftwood at the mouth of the beach that you must crawl over to get to the sand.
One of the highlights of checking out this beach is the Quateata Arch.
This arch is located on the north end of the beach and is the hole or archway you see in the above photo.
You can explore the area when the tide is out, but please don’t go around the land mass. When the tide comes back in, you will be stuck.
When the weather is stormy, locals say they have heard eerie noises created as the wind howls through the keyhole.
We didn’t experience this as it was cloudy but not stormy during our visit, but it sure would have been interesting!
Wander the beach, bring a blanket and relax while listening to the waves, or take photos of the sea stacks.
6. Third Beach
Hike to Beach: 3.6-miles roundtrip
Of the three beaches near La Push, this is the least popular to visit. We assume that it is because the hike is longer than the other options with similar payouts.
But that also means that you might get some solitude at Third Beach, which you definitely won’t get at Second Beach.
The trail is considered easy and quite beautiful. You will wander through forest areas that often have foggy conditions giving it an air of mystery.
This beach is similar to First and Second Beaches, with sandy conditions and driftwood. Forested landscapes and sea stakes can be seen. But that is not the highlight of the third beach.
The reason to visit this beach is with the hope of seeing Strawberry Bay Falls. Once you reach the beach, you will head south about 0.5-miles to get to the falls.
Strawberry Bay Falls (aka Third Beach Falls) is a waterfall that falls directly into the Pacific Ocean.
While the falls themselves aren’t overly impressive in terms of water flow, it is one of the few in the state that falls directly into the ocean, making it a must-see if you can.
The falls are visible as long as there has been some rain recently, but the best time to visit them is between November and May. During the drier summer months, there is a chance it could have dried up or may be just a small trickle.
7. Ruby Beach
Hike to Beach: 0.5-miles roundtrip
Ruby Beach is next on our list of the best beaches in Olympic National Park. This one is super popular to visit and is very family-friendly.
Its popularity is because it is conveniently located off Highway 101, and there is only a small hike to get to the beach, making it accessible for families bringing small children.
It is also one of the only beaches that still has plenty to do, even at high tide.
The beach gets its name from the red-colored granules found along the shore.
It also has a large section of pebble beach leading up to the sand, which is excellent for beach-combing. See if you can find any hidden objects in the rocks or race to see who can find the smoothest pebble in the shortest time.
There are also sea stacks to view, driftwood to examine, and a few tide pools to explore when the tide is low.
On a clear day, you should be able to spot Destruction Island Lighthouse if you look to the southwest. The lighthouse is part of the Quillayute Needles National Wildlife Refuge.
The refuge has more than 800 islands and rocks along the coastline under its protection and is not open to the public. Instead, the area allows space for the native seabirds to have protected nesting sites.
8. Kalaloch Beach
Hike to Beach: 0 miles
Along with Ruby Beach, this is another top-rated beach due to its convenience of a close parking lot and a short walk.
Kalaloch Beach is actually a series of 5 beaches, with the main public beach located right next to the Kalaloch Lodge and Campground.
The main beach has the usual driftwood and forested coastline, similar to so many other options on our list. But it also has something no other beach on our list has.
Central Kalaloch Beach has the Tree Root Cave (aka the Tree of Life). This tree is a marvel of nature, one of those things you must see to believe.
The land beneath this giant tree has slowly eroded, leaving many of its roots floating in the open, grasping into the ground in the land further away.
It clings to land on either side, creating a cave underneath the tree trunk.
With the harsh weather that the shore gets regularly, it is a wonder that this tree has survived as long as it has without a solid base. It is one of these things where no one knows when it will tip and fall, so the sooner you can see it, the better.
9. Kalaloch Beach 4
Hike to Beach: 0.8-miles roundtrip
North of central Kalaloch beach, Beach 4 is the most popular of the Kalaloch beaches beside the main one just discussed.
The trail to get to this beach is easy, short, and you even get to walk across a footbridge made of driftwood.
📎 Tip: Of all the beaches on our list, this is the beach with the BEST tide pool opportunities. So if you want to look for little sea critters, add this beach to your list of activities.
10. – 12. Kalaloch Beach 3, Beach 2, & Beach 1
Hike to Beach: varies from 0.25 miles to almost 2 miles roundtrip
Because these beaches are similar to Kalaloch Beach 4, we will include these final best beaches in Olympic National Park all in one group.
These three beaches are not as famous as the central Kalaloch public beach or Beach 4 with its tide pools. Beach 1 might be the busiest of these options due to its location near the South Beach Campground.
All the trails leading to these beaches are considered easy. They are sandy beaches with driftwood and sea stacks.
Olympic National Park Beaches Map
We are providing a map to make visualizing the beaches within the park easier.
This will allow you to see which beach might be closest to other activities you plan on doing within Olympic National Park during your visit.
If you are on your phone, click the square in the top corner, and our map will open directly in google maps for ease of use.
Are there Other Beaches Along The Olympic National Park Coast
Absolutely, there’s much more to explore beyond the main beaches we’ve highlighted thus far.
This stretch of the Pacific Northwest is teeming with numerous unnamed beachfront locations just waiting to be discovered.
While Rialto, Ruby, and Shi Shi Beaches are the most popular ones and provide a fantastic introduction to the coastal beauty of the park, countless other spots along the 73 miles of wild coastline offer their own unique charm and solitude.
These unnamed beaches and coastal stretches are just as enchanting and diverse, with their piles of driftwood, tide pools teeming with marine life, and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.
While we’ve covered the main beaches, we highly encourage you to explore beyond these and wander along the coast.
Who knows, you might just find your own private beach or discover an unforgettable view.
Are Any Of The Beaches In Olympic National Park Handicap Accessible
Unfortunately, there aren’t too many choices regarding the beaches being accessible for those with mobility issues. Many of the trails can be steep, even if they are short.
Rialto Beach probably has the best chance of seeing one of the beaches and coastline.
With the beach located directly off the parking lot with no hike, you should hopefully be able to see the Pacific Ocean from the parking lot.
The only uncertainty is how much driftwood piles up at the entrance, blocking the views. And this changes from season to season and year to year.
When To Visit The Olympic National Park Beaches
July and August are the most popular months to visit this fantastic park in Washington.
The weather is drier than at other times of the year, and all the accommodations within the park should be open.
If you are interested in wildlife, you might want to head to the park in May or June, as late spring means babies and a better possibility to see black bears.
You will also miss some of the summer crowds by visiting a bit earlier.
Where To Stay Near Olympic National Park
There are a couple of options if you want to stay close to Olympic National Park and have better access to visiting the beaches along the coastline. You can stay in the famous Forks (as long as you aren’t a vampire) or the larger town of Port Angeles.
We stayed in Seattle, which is a great city to visit in conjunction with Olympic National Park, but it is quite far to visit the park via ferry each day.
Luxury 💵 💵 💵 – Misty Valley Inn
- Beautiful B&B with views of either the mountains or the garden
- Full English breakfast included
- Afternoon delights and a gorgeous deck area to enjoy for some downtime
Mid-Range 💵 💵 – Hoh Valley Cabins
- Individual bungalow cabins
- Outdoor cedar deck with chairs
- Private kitchenette with a shared garden & BBQ grill
Budget 💵 – Bogi Bear Inn
- Individual log cabin tiny homes
- Kitchenette in each room
- Close to town so you can walk everywhere
In Port Angeles
Luxury 💵 💵 💵 – Sea Cliff Gardens
- Cute B&B with views of the gardens and the sea in EVERY room
- Fireplace and air-conditioning (so no matter the weather, you will be comfortable!)
- Private bath with bathrobes and slippers
Mid-Range 💵 💵 – Olympic Lodge By Ayres
- Cozy lobby with wood burning fireplace
- Outdoor heated pool & hot tub
- Complimentary breakfast
Budget 💵 – Aircrest Motel
- Clean and comfortable rooms
- Microwave and fridge in each room
- Close to the main road
How To Get Around The Olympic Peninsula Beaches
Navigating through the vast, diverse landscapes of Olympic National Park can be quite an adventure, and one of the best ways to get around is undoubtedly by car.
This park covers nearly a million acres of land with a multitude of ecosystems, so having a vehicle at your disposal can make your exploration far more efficient and enjoyable.
It’s important to remember that the park’s main attractions are spread out, and it can take several hours to drive from one side to the other.
Renting a car is a fantastic option, particularly for those who are flying into the area.
With a rental car, you gain the flexibility and freedom to move at your own pace, fully immersing yourself in the beauty and serenity of the park and its beaches.
We always recommend Discover Cars to compare prices because they carry all the big rental companies in one place, like Hertz and Dollar.
Tips For Spending Time At The Best Beaches On Olympic Peninsula
Here are a few tips to improve your experience in the national park.
Check Tide Times
It is vital to check the tide times when visiting Olympic National Park if you planning to see the beaches. We have two reasons for this.
First, it is essential to check tide times because many of the hikes require that you visit during low tide to complete your trek.
If you try to hike at another time, like high tide, you can often get stranded in places as the tide comes in, making the route now impassable.
Take the hole-in-the-wall hike at Rialto Beach, for instance. You cannot go through the hole to the other side at any time but at low tide. And if you try, you might become stranded on the far side.
Secondly, low tide is the best time to visit many of the beaches on our list because it allows access to the tide pools.
At high tide, these pools will be covered by the ocean. Tide pools are teeming with life and something you should make time to see if you are at one of the beaches.
You should always double-check the times once you arrive at a beach to know how much time you might have until the tide returns.
A tide chart is available at the visitors’ center.
Watch Where You Walk Near Tidepools
We have brought up tide pools many times throughout this article. Some of the best ones are at Kalaloch Beach 4 and the end of the hole-in-the-wall hike at Rialto Beach.
Tide pools are quite unique, and some amazing creatures can live in them.
So we ask that you walk extremely carefully around the tide pools as many of the things you see are living creatures.
Please don’t touch the wildlife. Like all the larger animals in a national park, keep your distance and only observe.
Creatures may be sitting right on the lip or the outskirts of the tide pools and not actually in the water holes themselves. Tread carefully, and don’t step on anything that isn’t sand or rock. Also, be aware that edges can be slippery.
Most of the time when you are planning on visiting a beach, you expect to wear bathing suits and need sunscreen.
That is just not the case in the Northwest of the USA. It is cool during the day, even in the summer.
That’s not to say you might not visit on a gorgeous day and be perfectly happy in a t-shirt. But for the most part, wearing or bringing layers is essential.
Even if you start your hike warm enough, it could be several degrees cooler by the time you reach the shoreline.
And you don’t want to cut your time short along the coast because you are cold, do you?
What To Pack For The Best Beach In Olympic National Park
While you are heading to the beach, this isn’t the same as sunny Florida. There are a few things we recommend you bring on your trek to the Olympic National Park beaches.
Hiking Boots (Preferably Waterproof)
Hiking boots will be your best friend when visiting the beaches in Olympic National Park.
Depending on the trail you choose, some of them can be steep, muddy, or have steps. Plus, once you arrive at the beach, you may have to climb over driftwood or other obstacles.
They should have good traction as areas around tidepools, and the driftwood can be slippery.
Water is always a necessity, and we recommend bringing an insulated bottle.
Even if you think you will only be gone an hour, you should always be prepared. You never know when a situation might arise and have you out for longer than expected.
Camera And Travel Tripod
We take our camera and a lens or two EVERYWHERE we go. And these beaches are no exception to the rule.
They are gorgeous, and you are going to want pictures.
If you don’t plan on staying for sunset, you can probably forego the tripod. Though in our opinion, if you have a lightweight travel tripod that doesn’t add much weight, why not bring it along?
Also, consider how you will protect your camera gear if it rains, which is common in this part of the U.S.
We have rain covers for our backpacks to keep our stuff dry, but if you don’t, consider investing in one.
Jacket Or Sweatshirt
Even at the height of summer, the park only reaches about 60° F. That is chilly, especially for us Midwesterners who are used to 95°F in the summer.
So a jacket is a must (a raincoat might be ideal).
Conditions can change quickly, especially along the windy coast, so bringing some warmer clothing is recommended.
Anytime you are in bear country, you should carry bear spray.
FAQs For Your Olympic National Park Beach Visit
Let’s answer some common questions about the beaches in Olympic National Park.
Can You Swim At The Beaches In Olympic National Park?
Yes, swimming is allowed at the beaches in Olympic National Park. However, the Pacific Ocean’s waters can be very cold, and currents can be strong, so it’s recommended for experienced swimmers only. Always be aware of your surroundings and respect the power of the ocean for a safe and enjoyable visit.
Are There Hot Springs In Olympic National Park?
Yes, Olympic National Park is home to Sol Duc Hot Springs, a popular destination featuring three mineral hot spring pools and one freshwater pool. Visitors can relax and soak in these hot springs, surrounded by the park’s natural beauty. We think these are a better choice than trying to swim at the beaches due to the rough and cold seas.
Which Beach Has The Best Tide Pool In Olympic National Park?
Kalaloch Beach 4 in Olympic National Park is renowned for its exceptional tide pools. At low tide, you can explore various marine life, including starfish, sea anemones, and mussels. Always remember to tread lightly to protect this delicate ecosystem.
Can You Take Rocks From Ruby Beach?
No, it is against National Park Service regulations to remove rocks, shells, or any natural objects from Ruby Beach or any other location within Olympic National Park. These rules help preserve the park’s natural beauty and biodiversity for future generations. Always remember, take only pictures and leave only footprints.
Which Beach Has The Best Sunset On The Olympic Peninsula?
Rialto Beach is often hailed as the best beach for sunset views on the Olympic Peninsula. With its iconic sea stacks silhouetted against the setting sun and reflections shimmering on the wet sand, it provides a truly stunning backdrop for the end of the day.
To Finish – Absolute 12 BEST Beaches In Olympic National Park
The best beaches in Olympic National Park are truly treasures of the Pacific Northwest, each offering unique experiences and breathtaking views.
Whether it’s the dramatic sea stacks of Rialto Beach, the vibrant tide pools of Kalaloch Beach, or the popularity of Second Beach, your adventure awaits.
As you explore, remember to cherish these pristine locations, leaving them as you found them.
As we’ve discovered, every grain of sand, every crashing wave, and every sunset paints a story in Olympic National Park.
It’s time for you to create your own.