The beaches in Olympic National Park are nestled within the breathtaking expanse of the Washington State coastline waiting to be discovered. With their rugged beauty, iconic sea stacks, and diverse marine life, these coastal treasures offer an unforgettable escape for nature enthusiasts, photographers, and adventurers alike. From the serene tranquility of Kalaloch Beaches to the captivating tidepools of Second Beach La Push, each shoreline within Olympic National Park is a unique gateway to the wonders of the Pacific coast.

We’ll share where to find each of the 15 beaches in Olympic National Park (including a map) as well as what makes each different with our top favorites.

Planning Tip: be careful as there are many beaches with similar names in Olympic National Park. For example, Second Beach is in La Push and is different than Beach 2 near Kalaloch. These can be easily mixed up, especially on Google Maps.

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Kalaloch Beaches

Table of Contents

Where to find: located on the southwest coast of the Olympic Peninsula and is accessible directly from Highway 101. The beaches will be addressed in the order in which they appear when driving north on Hwy 101.

The Kalaloch Beaches are some of the most popular in the park, but some are more worthy of a stop than others if you’re short on time. We recommend Kalaloch Beach as well as Beach 4 as our favorites. Perched along the Pacific coastline of Olympic National Park these are some of the most accessible beaches in the park. We’ll share how they differ and how to access each of them. The Kalaloch Beaches have vast marine and wildlife that is protected by three national wildlife refuges. The wild beauty of crashing waves, rugged sea stacks, and expansive shores make this one of the most popular spots in the park.

#1 Kalaloch Beach 1

Where to find: it’s about 40 minutes south of the main town of Forks, WA.
This is one of the less frequented Kalaloch beaches so if you’re looking for fewer people this is it but if you’re short on time it’s okay to skip Beach 1 for some of the others with bigger payoffs.

Beach 1 Access

It’s accessed from a roadside pull-off parking and a short trail to the beach. Spot some Bulging Sitka Spruce trees on the trail along the way. The path is fairly flat most of the way until it becomes steep to descend to the beach where there is driftwood to climb over to reach the beach.

Kalaloch Beach 1

#2 Kalaloch Beach

This is a great beach to spot whales and catch a great sunset. This beach is not known for tide pooling but offers lots of exploring, climbing, and birdwatching. Camping options are available at the Kalaloch Campground and must be reserved in advance. Don’t miss this one as the Tree of Life is a great stop.

Kalaloch Beach Access

Parking for the easiest beach access can be found either from Kalaloch Lodge then take the stairs down near cabin 10 to access the beach. Or if you prefer to be closer to see the Tree of Life then park near Kalaloch Campground lot found off Hwy 101.

Kalaloch Beach driftwood
Seeing the Tree of Life

To witness the legendary Tree of Life at Kalaloch Beach, head north from the Kalaloch Lodge. Look for a sign marking the path that leads to the beach. Follow the short trail through the coastal forest until you reach the beach and then head right. The Tree of Life, a massive tree root, stands as a testament to nature’s resilience. It has survived even after being uprooted by the forces of the ocean. It’s a symbol of the park’s beauty and the constant interplay between nature’s power and its ability to endure. The Tree of Life serves as a unique photo opportunity but please respect it and don’t climb on it or try to go behind it.

Tree of Life in Olympic National Park beach


#3 and #4 Kalaloch Beach 2 and 3

Where to find: these are all named segments of the same Kalaloch beach that can be accessed from Hwy 101 and it’s easiest to use GPS as parking can come up quickly as it’s a roadside pull-out.

How they differ.

Beach 2 is great if you want a huge sandy beach with no one in sight. There are only two parking spaces in a roadside pull-off along Hwy 101. During a short walk down to the beach the bulging Sitka Spruce trees can be spotted along the trail.
Beach 3 
This is a lowkey beach with easy access from Hwy 101. There are tidepools here so this can be a good alternative to Beach 4 if it’s busy, but we still love Beach 4 best if you have to pick one.

Kalaloch Beach 2 and 3 Access

Access can be found along Hwy 101. The trail for both is an easy five-minute walk to the beach.

Beach 2 in Olympic National Park
The trail to Beach 2 with a view of the bulging Sitka Spruce trees.

#5 Kalaloch Beach 4

Where to find: It’s a 35-minute drive from the main town of Forks with easy signage off Hwy 101.

This is one of our favorite beaches for tide pooling as well as seeing unique rock formations and bonus there’s fun driftwood to climb. Our kids loved this beach but you have to watch the tides and go at low tide for the best tide pooling and access. If you like geology don’t miss this unique beach and seals and otters have been known to roam the shoreline.

Kalaloch Beach 4 Access (not for those with mobility concerns)

There is a large parking lot with bathrooms and 140 steps down (1.1 miles out and back) to the beach if you take the left-side trail. It’s well worth it but does take some a short scramble to access. There is a small driftwood bridge and rock wall you need to either use the rope to climb a few steps down or carefully climb down the back rock wall for access to the beach. Must go at low tide to access most of the the beach.

#6 Ruby Beach

Where to find: This is the northernmost beach in the Kalaloch area of beaches. It is located on Highway 101, 27 miles south of the town of Forks.

This beach is an explorer’s paradise. There are driftwood logs for climbing, rocks, and great tide pooling near the large sea stacks. Near the end of the trail to the beach, Cedar Creek empties into a large pool and is the ideal play spot for children and families. From here, it’s a choose-your-own-adventure along the beach. To the north, walk about three miles past several large sea stacks and cliff faces until you reach the waters of the mighty Hoh River. To the south, it may be possible to hike about three miles to Steamboat Creek during low tide. This beach is also great at sunset.

Ruby Beach Access

Ruby Beach is very accessible with only a short .25mile walk down from the parking lot and bathrooms can be found near the parking.

Planning Tip

Get an early start! The Olympic beaches often have small parking lots that fill up quickly. Getting an early start helps when visiting the most popular stops.

La Push Beaches

Where to find: Located on the western coastline of Olympic National Park, on Route 110 La Push is 14 miles west of Forks.

La Push is the tribal center of the Quileute people and the beaches here offer a captivating blend of rugged beauty and Pacific tranquility. This is one of the largest beaches in Olympic National Park and for this reason, it’s broken into three beaches. Visitors can expect dramatic sea stacks, expansive sandy shores, and stunning sunsets over the horizon. These beaches are perfect for exploring, with opportunities to spot eagles, whales, and marine life, as well as explore tide pools filled with fascinating creatures. Camping enthusiasts will appreciate the nearby campground, providing a unique experience to take in the sound of crashing waves.

We’ll share a breakdown of each La Push beach if you’re short on time:

#7 First Beach, La Push

First Beach is outside of the Olympic National Park boundary and is home to the Quileute Nation. The history and etiquette for visiting the reservation can be found here. The Quileute oceanside cabins can be spotted along the shore with lots of driftwood along the beach. This is a good beach if you’re looking for easy access from the parking. Surfers can sometimes be spotted here as well.

First Beach, La Push Access

First Beach is the most easily accessible of the three La Push beaches, from the parking area, there is no hike required.

First Beach in Olympic National Park
First Beach, La Push

#8 Second Beach, La Push

This is the most popular of the La Push beaches and it has some of the best tidepooling in Olympic National Park. This beach is a favorite among tide-pooling enthusiasts, as the rocky intertidal zones come alive during low tides. We arrived two hours before low tide and were greeted with tide pools filled with brightly colored marine life. Be aware there can be rip currents at this beach.

Wilderness camping permits are required for overnight stays at Second Beach. A few forested campsites are available but otherwise, it’s mostly beach camping.

Access

The main parking lot can only accommodate about 10 cars, but there is an overflow lot just east of the main lot. The journey to get to the beach is almost as good as the destination. From the trailhead parking area to Second Beach is about .8 mile (1.2 km). The trail meanders through lush vegetation before revealing a dramatic seascape featuring towering sea stacks. The forested trail has so many interesting trees and unique sights along the way. 

#9 Third Beach, La Push 

This beach is more remote but this makes it a great stop for fewer people and more wildlife sighting opportunities. Watch for bald eagles and seals in action and if you’re lucky enough to visit in March, April, or October you might get to spot migrating whales. Go at low tide when tide pools can be accessed as well as Strawberry Falls which is down the beach to the left. You can hike past Third Beach to Scott’s Creek and beyond but this requires climbing up the side of the beach using a rope in place and it can be muddy. 

Wilderness camping permits are required for overnight camping at Third Beach.

Access

There is a parking area for about 20 cars and towing is strictly enforced in this area. The Third Beach trailhead is around 1.5 miles (2.4 km) mostly flat trail through the coastal forest from the parking area to the beach. At the end of the trail, it becomes steep as it descends towards the beach and there are logs you need to climb over in order to reach the beach.

Beaches in Olympic National Park

#10 Rialto Beach and Hole-in-the-Wall Hike

Where to find: This beach is in the Mora area and just north of the town of La Push. It’s very easy to group this beach when seeing the La Push beaches as it’s 15 minutes away.

This beach has it all, picture-perfect views, fantastic tide pooling around multiple sea stacks, and a 3.3-mile round trip hike to the Hole-in-the-Wall to view the naturally occurring sea arch if you arrive during low tide. The hike to the iconic sea arch is on the beach and easy most of the way until the very end which requires some rock scrambling to round the corner to view the arch. The arch is only accessible during low tide but if the tide is in, use the overland trail above the arch to enjoy panoramic views southward to take in the picturesque scene. This is a great beach for a picnic and all day exploring.

Wilderness camping permits are required for overnight stays and camping is only allowed between Ellen Creek and Hole-in-the-Wall. If the creek isn’t running this can be difficult to find but is about 1 mile into the hike from the parking.

Access

Rialto Beach is one of the most accessible beaches in Olympic National Park so it can be very busy. There is a small parking lot with approximately 20 spots. In the summer, there is a wheelchair-accessible ramp on the path. Go at low tide for the best access to view Hole-in-the-Wall.

#11 Lake Crescent Beach

Where to find: Lake Crescent can be found 18 miles west of Port Angeles. The beach is accessible by parking at the Lake Crescent Lodge.

Nestled amidst the lush landscapes of Olympic National Park, Lake Crescent Beach offers an escape to the shores of a stunning mountain lake. Visitors will find crystal-clear waters and breathtaking mountain views, making it an ideal spot for relaxation, outdoor activities, and photography. The beach area has pebbly shores but is one of the best opportunities for swimming, kayaking, and enjoying the beach. This is a freshwater lake, so no tide pooling here but a great recreation lake. 

Access

The beach is best accessed from Lake Crescent Lodge which has a rustic elegance and a beautiful covered porch that overlooks the lake to enjoy lunch or an afternoon drink. There are rowboats, canoes, and stand-up paddleboard rentals to venture out onto the turquoise waters. Just be prepared it’s very cold (glacial water) and up to 600+ feet deep!

#12 Cliff Jumping and Swimming at Devils Punchbowl

If you want to experience some cliff jumping and swimming in crystal clear turquoise (glacial) water head to the north side of Lake Crescent to experience the Devil’s Punchbowl. Get here by starting at the Spruce Tree Railroad trailhead. It’s a 2.4-mile easy, out-and-back hike on a mostly paved trail. When you come to the tunnel (1mi) head left and then come back through the tunnel. This is a popular trail for bikers and one of the few trails dogs are allowed in the park. Warning: This area can be crowded and extreme caution should be used as the jump from the cliff side is 40 feet into very cold glacial water. There have been fatalities at this location in the past.

Devil's Punchbowl in Olympic National Park
Devil’s Punchbowl Lake Crescent

#13 Lake Quinault Beach

Where to find: in Quinault, WA about an hour and 15 minutes south of Forks and almost three hours from Seattle. Access from the Lake Quinault Lodge.

Found beside the serene shores of Lake Quinault within Olympic National Park, Lake Quinault offers a unique blend of freshwater and forested beauty. This is one of the few freshwater Olympic National Park beaches. This beach is small and found at the Lake Quinault Lodge. It is a fantastic spot for recreation, with rentals offered by the Lodge, a nice area with lawn games, and a picturesque lakefront. While not known for tide pooling due to its freshwater, the area has endless exploring of the nearby temperate rainforest trails and scenic drives around the lake for panoramic vistas. The Lake Quinault Lodge is a rustic, historical lodge built in 1926 and offers board games in the lobby as well as a restaurant to grab a bite to eat overlooking the lake.

Access

Park at the Lake Quinault Lodge and walk through the lodge to the back access to the lake.

Tip: Don’t miss the world’s largest Sitka Spruce tree found by taking the lakeside trail to the east side of the lake.

#14 Shi Shi Beach (pronounced shy-shy)

Where to find: Shi Shi Beach is located on the Makah Reservation as well as in Olympic National Park and is found in the northern coastal region in Clallam Bay, Washington.

This is considered one of the most beautiful beaches on the Washington coast. If you’re up for a drive, plus a hike, Shi Shi Beach is beautiful and worth the adventure. On this scenic hike through the temperate rainforest, you will explore over boardwalks and bridges with mild inclines and declines and often encounter some mud in mile two. When you make it to the beach there are caves, sea stacks, and arches. Go at low tide and you’ll be well rewarded with amazing tidepools near the sea stacks to the right. This is a popular year-round area for backpacking, camping, and hiking.

Access

The trail to Shi Shi Beach is around 2.2 miles (3.5 km) one way from the trailhead. If you choose to continue the hike to the Point of the Arches it is 8.8 miles (12.9-kilometer) round-trip and is a beautiful hike. The hike starts at the trailhead near the fish hatchery on tribal land. Plan accordingly and be sure to carry a tide chart. For this hike, you’ll actually need two passes, a Makah Recreation Pass because it’s on tribal land as well as an Olympic National Park pass. If you plan to camp you’ll also need a wilderness camping permit for overnight stays at Shi Shi.

Note: if you’re camping overnight, you park at a private residence parking lot .6 miles up the road from the trailhead (look for “Shi Shi Beach Trail Overnight Parking” in Google Maps). Bring cash for an envelope.

Shi Shi Beach Olympic National Park
Shi Shi Beach

#15 Cape Flattery

Where to find: Cape Flattery is in Neah Bay and is the northwesternmost point of the contiguous United States. Cape Flattery is not within Olympic National Park but located on the Makah Reservation, adjacent to the park. 

Cape Flattery offers a coastal experience like no other. Dramatic Pacific coast views, sea stacks, and the ideal place for animals of all kinds to feed so you can easily spot birds and marine animals like whales or otters playing in the surf.

Access

Because Cape Flattery is managed separately from Olympic National Park it requires a different permit from the Makah Tribe. This permit allows you to visit Cape Flattery and explore the trails and viewpoints in the area. The permit can be purchased at the Makah Marina or Makah Culture and Research Center during open hours and unfortunately, there is no online option only in person.

The Cape Flattery parking lot has room for about 20 cars and has a pit toilet. From the trailhead, Cape Flattery is a 1.2-mile roundtrip hike through the forest and across wooden boardwalks, to three separate viewpoints. While not typically known for tide pooling, the dynamic coastal scenery and panoramic views make Cape Flattery a must-see destination. Camping options can be found at Hobuck Beach Resort or in the nearby Makah Reservation. This area is also home to the Makah Cultural and Research Center, where you can learn about the history and traditions of the Makah Nation and gain a deeper appreciation for the coastal landscapes that surround you.

Cape Flattery Olympic National Park

Tidepooling in Olympic National Park

The best time for tide-pooling to observe the most vibrant marine life is during low tides. Specifically, the time before low tides (2 hours) provides an excellent opportunity to explore when the water has receded, revealing a plethora of marine life that is otherwise hidden beneath the waves. It’s ideal to plan your tide-pooling adventure during the lowest low tides, known as “minus tides,” which expose a greater portion of the rocky shoreline and allow you to explore more extensive tide pools.

Understanding Tide Tables

Tide tables provide essential information for planning your tide-pooling adventure. When viewing tide tables, there are a few things to consider:

  • Tide tables are location-specific so it’s best to Google the beach you want to visit and tide table to find the table specific to your beach.
  • High Tide and Low Tide Times: The tables list the times of high tide and low tide for a specific location on a particular day. Low tide is the period when tidepools are most accessible and when marine life is exposed. Going up to 2 hours before low tide or at low tide is best.
  • Tide Height: The height of the tide is measured in feet or meters. Negative values indicate lower-than-average tides, offering better access to tide pools and more marine life.
  • Tide Range: The difference in height between the high tide and low tide is referred to as the tide range. A larger tide range, often associated with a full moon or new moon, can lead to more extreme low tides (minus tides) and greater exposure to tidepool areas.

When using tide tables to plan your tide-pooling adventure, look for days with the lowest low tides and, if possible, during periods of larger tide ranges. It’s important to note that tide predictions are location-specific, so be sure to use tide tables for the specific area you plan to visit. Additionally, always exercise caution and refer to local authorities or visitor centers for any safety recommendations, as tidal conditions can vary based on factors like geography and weather.

Map of the Beaches in Olympic National Park

How to Use This Map

Click the icons to view more information on each location. If you’d like to add this map to your Google Maps account on a computer click the star next to the map title. To view it from mobile open Google Maps, select Saved then Maps at the bottom. To view it from a computer, from the menu, it’s Your Places then Maps.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the closest airport to Olympic National Park?

Sea-Tac International Airport (SEA) is the closest to Olympic National Park. The drive from Seattle to Olympic National Park takes about two and a half hours depending on traffic. Alternatively, Portland International Airport (PDX) in Oregon is a four-hour drive away.

There are some buses and ferries to get there but having a car is ideal for exploring the park. There is one main road that is a loop around the park and there are no roads that cut through the park so drive times can be long in between sights.

Where is the best place to stay to see the beaches in Olympic National Park?

Forks is a central place to stay to visit the many beaches of Olympic National Park. While Port Angeles, found between Olympic and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, offers greater accommodation options it will be a much longer drive to many of the park’s beaches. If you plan to also visit Hurricane Ridge consider staying a night or two in Port Angeles the night before and then staying the rest of the time in Forks to be closer to the beaches. This will save on extra driving.

When staying with kids we always like the additional space vacation rentals provide here with great options on Airb&B or VRBO.

There are four historic lodges inside Olympic National Park plus several options immediately outside park borders in the Lake Quinault area. These lodges and resorts in the area offer close proximity to these beaches and the charm of staying in a national park lodge. Some are only offered seasonally so check before a visit.

Kalaloch Lodge
Hoh Valley Cabins
Log Cabin Resort 
Quileute Oceanside Resort 
Lake Crescent Lodge

Are Olympic National Park’s Beaches Free to Visit?

These beaches are in Olympic National Park so you will need a National Park pass but otherwise, there are no additional fees. You can choose a day pass or an annual park pass. If you plan to visit more than one national park in a year then the annual pass is likely the better option. There are other groups who qualify for discounts as well and if you’re traveling with a 4th grader they get a free national park pass for a year. Great deal!

If you plan to visit Cape Flattery which is outside Olympic National Park, you’ll need a separate recreation permit that is issued by the Makah Tribe. This permit allows you to visit Cape Flattery and explore the trails and viewpoints in the area. It can be purchased at the Makah Marina or Makah Culture and Research Center during open hours and unfortunately, there is no online option only in person.

What is the best beach for tidepooling?

Kalaloch Beach 4 which is located just north of the main Kalaloch Beach. Beach 4 is part of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and you can join a ranger-led tide pooling program. Also, Beach 2 La Push, not to be confused with Second Beach near Kalaloch (yes, these are very closely named but not the same) also has great tidepooling as well as the nearby Rialto Beach.

When is the best time to visit the beaches in Olympic National Park?

The beaches in Olympic have something to offer year-round and the season change is truly spectacular. The most popular time to visit the beaches in Washington is from April through October when there is less rain and more temperate weather. The summer months of June-August are by far the busiest but also offer the best weather. Most of the rainfall occurs in the park between November to April.

When can I see whales from the beaches of Olympic National Park?

You can often see whales from shore during migration periods that fall in the spring from April to May and the autumn from October to November. A popular spot to see whales from the shore is at Rialto Beach as they migrate north and south on the whale trail

Can I collect rocks or other found treasures from the beaches in Olympic National Park?

No, nothing can be removed from the national parks, including the beaches. Please practice leave no trace principles.

Is there any swimming at Olympic National Park beaches?

Although you can swim the waters found in the Washington coast beaches are known for being very cold year-round. Many beaches found in Olympic National Park also have rip tides, and strong currents, are rocky, and have unpredictable conditions not great for swimming. The areas best for traditional swimming would be the beach near Lake Crescent Lodge or Devil’s Punchbowl which has cliff jumping and swimming in crystal clear turquoise (glacial) water on the north side of Lake Crescent.

Are dogs allowed in Olympic National Park?

Dogs are only allowed on the beaches below in the park: 

  • Rialto Beach parking lot only until Ellen Creek (1/2 mile) so not the whole way to Hole-in-the-Wall
  • The beaches between the Hoh and Quinault Reservations (Kalaloch area)

Other hiking trails where dogs are allowed:

  • Peabody Creek Trail (Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles)
  • Madison Falls Trail (Elwha)
  • Spruce Railroad Trail (North shore of Lake Crescent)
  • July Creek Loop Trail (North shore of Lake Quinault)

When visiting the beaches of Olympic National Park what is the easiest way to find the parking/trail access point when on the beach?

To find your way back to the trailhead when on most beaches by looking for the large circular red/black sign.

Is there a good audio guide for Olympic National Park?

We love using the GuideAlong (formerly GyPSy Guide) for audio guide tours in the National Parks. This audio tour for Olympic National Park is great and can easily be downloaded in advance of a trip to the park.

Lastly, when planning to visit the Olympic National Park beaches I recommend checking the official National Park site or visitor centers for the latest information. There can be frequent closures, warnings, or other information that helps to know before setting out for the day.

The beaches in Olympic National Park are not mere destinations – they are living landscapes that change and impact us in new ways. Whether you’re drawn to tide pooling, the allure of camping beneath starlit skies, or the simple joy of walking along pristine beaches, these coastal havens offer a timeless connection to the raw beauty of nature. If you have a visit planned let us know which beach was your favorite in the comments below or on Social. You can also follow us on Instagram and check out our saved story highlight everything we did in Olympic National Park.

Check out these other related articles if you’re planning a National Park trip with kids or looking for road trip tips.

Pin for Best Beaches in Olympic National Park
Pin Beaches in Olympic National Park

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