5 Washington Beaches That Will Inspire You

Words by Chrissie White
Photos by Chrissie White

The coastline of Washington State lends itself beautifully to artists and explorers. While it might not be known for its hot sunny days and swimming, it has qualities that are hard to come by anywhere else in the world. Misty cliffs covered in mossy forests open up to the sea, strange looking rock formations carved away by time stand tall against the waves, and people in full wetsuits surf cold water. Whether you prefer to relax under a blue sky, or take photographs in a thick morning fog, these beaches offer unique scenery to inspire anyone.

Shi Shi Beach

Shi Shi Beach is often considered one of the most raw and picturesque beaches that Washington has to offer. It is located on the Olympic Peninsula near Neah Bay, and has deep roots with the Makah Tribe. The journey to the beach requires an easy hike through a lush forest. Hikers beware though, as the trail is often muddier than a British music festival. Once you emerge from the forest you’ll find yourself surrounded by sea stacks, multiple coves, and most likely some backpackers cooking a meal over a driftwood fire. One could easily spend a few days here collecting sea treasures, exploring different caves, and stargazing with friends. Bonus: There is even an old shipwreck on the beach to behold.

Shaw Island

Shaw Island is the smallest, and least visited island of the four San Juan islands that you can access via ferry boat. If you’re into bike camping but want a more relaxing trip this is the place to go. It often feels quiet and empty besides the occasional sighting of a nun driving casually down the road. Solitude can be found here easily as there are virtually no amenities on the island besides one small general store, a monastery, and a county park for camping.

Rosario Beach

Looking for a place to impress your tinder date? Look no further. Part of Deception Pass State Park, Rosario Beach consists of towering grassy cliffs reminiscent of the Irish coastline. This is a popular destination for couples looking for romance as the sunset is glorious and expansive.

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach is a great pit-stop for lunch on your way out to the Hoh Rainforest. The beach is a haven for any rock collecting enthusiast who enjoys a day of hunting for the perfect specimen. On the other hand, If you don’t care for rocks but are into constructing driftwood forts there is an abundance of sun bleached logs for building materials. Can’t beat that million dollar view Windermere!

Sucia Island

Accessible only by boat in the San Juan Islands, Sucia is a prime location for people who prefer to sail on open water instead of drive. On labor day weekend this island turns into a mellow party destination. You can camp on shore or sleep anchored in Echo Bay and enjoy freshly caught crab and wine with new friends. During the summer bioluminescent algae is abundant so make sure to splash around in the water at night for a little bit of natural magic.

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