Beach camping can be magnificent, especially with the soothing sound of the waves lulling you into a good night’s rest. Washington State boasts over 3,000 miles of shoreline, making its beaches a tempting lure. But is it legal to camp on Washington’s beaches?
Camping on the beach is legal in certain areas of Washington State. However, some of the best ones require hiking or boating in, such as Blake Island Marine State Park. However, many coastal campsites, such as Cape Disappointment, can be reached by car and have disability access.
Camping on the Washington coast is popular with locals and visitors. Yes, the weather can be milder than Southern California or Florida, but that’s a bonus for many. But this means that finding a spot can be incredibly tricky during the summer. Early fall can be a wonderful time of year in the State and is often when it is easier to snag the perfect spot.
10 Camping Spots On Or Near The Beach In Washington
Washington has many campgrounds on the coast that offer sea views, easy beach access, and even a few places where you can camp directly on the beach. We’ve rounded up our top ten to help you find your next adventure.
Most places allow campfires, but not all, so be sure to read up on each area’s rules. Also, it’s imperative to be aware of the tidal calendar when camping on the beach. Lastly, we’ve tried to highlight whenever a permit is required, but rules change, so always check before travel.
1 – Blake Island Marine State Park: Washington Beach Camping
Blake Island Marine State Park is fantastic for those wanting to escape the bustle of your typical campground. While the 472-acre park is not far from Seattle, it is only accessible by boat. In addition to being surrounded by water, it boasts views of Mt. Rainier and sleepless city.
Blake’s campground has 44 standard sites and three Cascadia Marine Trail sites. Selected sites and day-use areas are reservable, and it is highly recommended. If you wish to stay at other Cascadia Marine Trail sites, please consult the map to see which park runs it so you can read up on their rules and policies.
2 – Cape Disappointment: Washington Beach Camping
Cape Disappointment is popular with city folks in the Portland and Seattle area. The 2,023-acre park is located on the Long Beach Peninsula, facing the Columbia River mouth.
The camp boasts 137 standard campsites, 50 with full-hookup, 18-partial hookup, and 5 primitive sites that are first-come-first-serve. Reservations are strongly recommended for the rest of the sites, particularly if you want to snag one with a sea view.
3 – La Push Second Beach: Washington Beach Camping
La Push Second Beach is one of three beaches in this area, and they are all excellent. However, Second Beach is the most accessible for campers who are not tribe members (consider camping in the fall rather than peak summer.) As La Push is part of Olympic National Park, you will need to obtain permits and bring a bear canister or find out if rentals are available.
4 – Matia Island State Park: Washington Beach Camping
Matia Island State Park is part of the San Juan Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Their six primitive campsites run on a first-come, first-serve basis. Unfortunately, they are incredibly popular, so you may struggle to snag one during high season.
Unlike most Washington beaches, campfires are prohibited due to the wildlife refuge. However, you are allowed to cook over a backpacker’s camp stove. Matia Island has no potable water, so you must bring your own. Nor is there a garbage service; thus, pack in and pack out. But there is a composting toilet.
5 – Ocean City State Park: Washington Beach Camping
Ocean City State Park sits halfway up Washington’s coastline. It features 149 standard campsites, 29 with full-hookup. This waterfront campsite is incredibly popular, so reservations are strongly recommended, especially if you want a site with a view. Campfires are allowed, but please respect the area’s rules.
Unusually, Ocean City permits digging for razor clams in designated areas during harvest season. You will need a recreation license to take part.
6 – Ozette Triangle Loop: Washington Beach Camping
Ozette Triangle Loop is located within the Olympic National Park. Ozette does have an official campsite with 15 sites and rental cabins next to Lake Ozette. However, there are primitive campsites on the actual loop, especially near Cape Alava.
You will need to obtain a permit well in advance. However, the area is subject to closures when landslides and other natural events make the area impassable. You will also require a bear canister. These canisters are not only valuable for the rare occurrence of a bear but help with the frequent visitors such as raccoons and other small scavengers.
7 – Pacific Beach State Park: Washington Beach Camping
Pacific Beach State Park sits northwest of Aberdeen. The park is 17-acres, boasting 2,300 feet of shoreline. They have 18 basic campsites, 41 with partial hookup, and two yurts. 26 of their sites are on the waterfront, perfect for beach lovers, provided you don’t need shade. The ADA-accessible yurts do not have an ocean view but are a short walking distance of the beach.
Pacific Beach State Park does allow campfires, but they need to be over 100 feet from any vegetation and have someone beside it at all times.
8 – Rialto Beach: Washington Beach Camping
Rialto Beach is in the Olympic National Park and is known for its Hole-in-the-Wall hike. When reaching the big rock, wait for sunset to see the ray of light shooting through the hole.
To camp, park your car overnight, or even hike in the area, you will need to obtain a parking permit and have a bear canister. Due to high tides, it is suggested to camp on the established sites on the edge of the beach, near the forest.
9 – Salt Creek Recreation Area: Washington Beach Camping
Salt Creek Recreation Area is adored by shore divers thanks to the underwater kelp forest. The recreation area was once a World War II post responsible for guarding the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The area is on the Whale Trail, so you might get lucky and spot one.
The campground has 92 campsites, 73 of which overlook the sea from the bluff. Some of the sites are first-come-first-serve, and others are reservable. There are vault toilets, coin-operated showers, a basketball court, a playground, and a softball field.
10 – Shi Shi Beach: Washington Beach Camping
Shi Shi Beach is tucked in the corner of the Olympic Peninsula. It is only accessible by hiking in, and you will need to obtain a permit in advance and permission from the Makah Tribe. Thus, natural events such as avalanches can cause closures to this area.
However, when it is accessible, the area is gorgeous. Be sure, however, to consult tidal charts before pitching your tent and planning your hike. High water isn’t good for your tent and makes certain places on the hike difficult to impossible to pass. You can camp directly on the beach or in one of the established primitive woodland sites.
Camping on the beach is possible in Washington State. However, camping directly on the sand will mean giving up some amenities. An excellent compromise is finding a campsite that offers beautiful views along with potable water, toilets, and showers. Enjoy your next adventure.