The West Coast is known for its beaches. After all, what California advertisement would be complete without a sunset photo of a surfer on a stretch of white sand staring out at the vast ocean? But California isn’t the only state on the West Coast, and it certainly can’t lay claim to all the best beaches. Keep in mind that the temperatures can vary drastically, but here are a few West Coast beaches worth visiting that aren’t in California.
The water may get colder the farther north you go, but the views get more picturesque in a uniquely Pacific Northwest way. Plus, during the cooler months, visitors can often spot whales migrating off the coast. Oregon is certainly home to many West Coast beaches worth visiting that aren’t in California.
Iconic Haystack rock is what brings most visitors to Cannon Beach. To be sure, it looks just as its name implies, but there are also miles of sandy beaches and stunning views of the rocky coastline. National Geographic once named it one of the world’s most beautiful places. On a hazy evening at sunset, it’s easy to see why. Haystack rock is also a National Wildlife Refuge, so you’re bound to see all manner of birds and ocean life in the tide pools that can be explored at low tide. You can even cozy up around a fire on the beach. Cannon beach is about an hour and a half from Portland by car.
The city of Newport is not only home to several ocean beaches, but also the Yaquina Bay. Surfing is immensely popular, but clamming and crab-spotting on the rocks at low tide is also worth checking out. You can spot the Yaquina Head Lighthouse from just about anywhere on the beach. Keep an eye out for migrating gray whales in the spring and fall.
For the longest continuous stretch of beach in the state of Oregon, head to Lincoln City. The city has a vibrant arts scene, which, not surprisingly, spills over into the beach scene. FROM October through Memorial Day in May, local glass artists plant glass globes along the beach for visitors to find (and take home). But other than unexpected art on the sand, it’s a great place for sailboarding, bird-watching, and rock scrambling, especially at Roads End State Recreation Site.
If you prefer hiking to lounging on beaches, check out this 12-mile stretch of beach in the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. There are forests, cliffs, beaches and 27 miles of Oregon Coast trails surrounding the beach. It’s a great place to spot birds, ocean life and all manner of local plant life.
Otter Rock and Devil’s Punch Bowl
If it’s rocky outcroppings and tidepools you want, this is the place to be. Surfers flock here for the waves, picnickers for the view, and wildlife enthusiasts for the whales. Make sure to investigate the tidepools next to the round, wave-formed feature that looks like a giant punch bowl. Find the spot via the Marine Garden’s Beach Trail.
With 157 miles of coastal shoreline, Washington is home to plenty of beaches. While you won’t find many folks taking a dip in these northern waters, Washington is home to plenty of West Coast beaches worth visiting that aren’t in California. Think less about body surfing, more about crabbing and kayaking.
As its name implies, this beach is long (twenty-eight miles long, to be exact). There are accommodations and attractions along some of it, but if it’s a good long beach walk you’re looking for, especially out of view of hordes of tourists, this is the beach for you. You can also ride (on a bike or a horse) along the shoreline or try clamming or fishing.
Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park
While you’ll have to pay to get into the park ($25 per vehicle), if it’s wild and beautiful beaches you want, you’ll find them here. There are sea stacks, driftwood galore, and there are tide pools. You’ll find starfish, plant life and scenery that explodes with vibrant colors. Come ready to explore and experience completely uncommercialized natural beauty.
Alki Beach, Seattle
Possibly the top urban beach in Washington, Alki Beach is located not on the Pacific Ocean, but on Puget Sound in Seattle. For decades it’s been the go-to for a relaxing afternoon on the sand, a game of beach volleyball, or a stroll along the water. Take a water taxi from downtown and grab lunch or a snack at any of the storefronts lining the popular 2-mile stretch of shoreline.
A planned vacation community that’s as quaint and picturesque as it sounds, Seabrook is a beach destination for those seeking a simple and quiet getaway. Just about all the accommodations are cottages of one sort or another. Commercial enterprises consist of a few local shops, restaurants and a public pool. The place is very similar to coastal New England.
Jetty Island Park
Escape the hustle and bustle with a free ten-minute ferry ride from the mainland for a trip to this man-made island. Just off the coast of Everett, the 2-mile all-sand beach also contains sandy trails for walking. Bring food, water, sunscreen, and spend the day relaxing near the water.
As you can see, there are plenty of West Coast beaches worth visiting that aren’t in California and they are easy to get to even using the travel credit card rewards. Depending on whether you seek solitude, surfing, clamming or sand castles, there’s a picture-perfect beach for every type of beach lover in the Pacific Northwest.