A day at the beach is definitely a must while you’re visiting Port Angeles. One of the city’s charming traits is that you’re literally surrounded by a variety of beautiful beaches — from serene bays to the jagged coastline of the Pacific Ocean. Remember to pick up a tide chart and always keep an eye out for strong surf and rip currents.
City of Port Angeles Beaches
Starting in the heart of downtown, Hollywood Beach is located at the City Pier area and in front of the Red Lion Hotel. This beach makes a great spot to watch the ferry come and go, or launch a kayak or paddleboard from the mellow shore. The Olympic Discovery Trail runs adjacent to the beach so biking, running or walking the dog is as scenic as it gets. Follow the Olympic Discovery Trail path west through town towards Ediz Hook to access the Sail & Paddle Park for more options to launch a kayak, SUP board, or kite board. You can also throw on your diving gear and walk in for a scuba session. Be sure to pack a picnic and take in amazing views of the city and Olympic Mountains from here.
Further west of town, you’ll stumble upon the Salt Creek Recreation Area where a 196-acre park with forested trails, sandy beach and rocky tide pools open up to a large bay. Crescent Bay is part of the Whale Trail where orcas, humpback, gray, and minke whales can be seen from shore. The marine life and birding are rich here — Salt Creek is an official listed location on the National Audubon’s Olympic Loop of the Greater Washington State Birding Trail. Hiking and walking trails fan out from the park. Hike to Camp Hayden, an old World War II bunker, or ascend Striped Peak on a 3 mile out and back loop. Beachcombing, tide pooling, kite flying, surfing and kayaking are common pasttimes for a marvelous day at this beach. Bonus: there are no park entrance fees for day use.
Rialto Beach in the Olympic National Park
Rialto was named one of the top 10 best west coast beaches by USA Today. There isn’t a trail to hike along to get to this beach — the beach is your trail. You can choose to hike about two miles to the Hole-in-the-Wall, a sea arch, where you can explore saltwater pools teeming with sea life. Keep an eye out for whales, sea lions, otters, and bald eagles along the way. Dogs on a leash are allowed for 0.8 mile north to Ellen Creek only. Rialto Beach is another surfing hot spot.
Shi Shi Beach in the Olympic National Park
Bring your hiking shoes for a trip to this beach — and perhaps a surf board! The four-mile roundtrip walk in is worth every minute though. You’ll start in a rain forest with the trail ending as it opens up to a sandy Pacific Ocean beach. The Point of Arches is breathtaking so keep walking the extra half mile down the beach. You’ll need to purchase a Makah Recreation Pass to park here and leave Fido at home — dogs aren’t allowed past the National Park boundary approximately 1.7 miles in. Backpackers will need two permits to stay overnight: the Makah Recreation Pass and an Olympic National Park wilderness permit (available in Port Angeles or Forks). From here, backpackers can connect with the Hole in the Wall trail towards Rialto Beach or the Ozette Loop hike.
La Push Beaches (First Beach, Second Beach and Third Beach)
Despite their names and close proximity of another, you won’t be able to access all of these beaches in one long walk. Each sandy beach has a separate trail and is a fairly easy to get to. The three beaches are part of the Quillayute Needles National Wildlife Refuge. First Beach, made famous from the Twilight movie sagas, can be accessed by car. Second Beach is only a mile trek and starts at the trailhead on the Quileute Indian Reservation. Third Beach is a 1.6-mile trek to the beach, which can get kind of messy and slick during stormy weather.
Ruby Beach in the Olympic National Park
An hour and half — give or take — southwest of Port Angeles, Ruby Beach is a short jaunt (0.25 miles) from the parking lot to the beach where sea stacks and drift wood compliment the turbulent Pacific. Come at low-tide for epic tide pooling. There are no additional fees for accessing this park. Despite the short walk from the parking lot, Ruby Beach isn’t ADA accessible due to drift wood logs at the bottom of the trail.