Washington is a breath of fresh air when it comes to surfing. Yes, you’ve lost your palm trees and legendary waves, and you have to be a special kind of outrageous to try it in nothing but a bikini or board shorts. But you get wide open water, plenty of elbow room, and you don’t have to wait in hectic lines for your turn at the waves. The trick is finding the perfect spots.
There are many excellent surf spots along Washington’s Pacific coastline, but some will require a good hike to reach. Excellent places to catch waves include:
- Cape Disappointment
- Cape Flattery
- Damon Point
- La Push
- Long Beach
- Shi Shi Beach
- Strait of Juan de Fuca
Surfing in Washington State requires a certain amount of grit. Coldwater surfing is rising in popularity, but like Oregon, Washington’s current comes off of Alaska. Compared to the Atlantic at a similar latitude, the Pacific averages 16 degrees colder. This requires a unique toughness and mental attitude even with the proper gear. But for some, it’s the perfect rush.
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10 Excellent Surf Spots in Washington
Oregon and Washington have put a substantial effort into keeping beaches wild. Oregon has all of theirs listed as publicly owned, curtailing destructive development. While Washington hasn’t done the same, most of its coastline is difficult to get to or owned by Native Americans.
Thus, the hardcore surfers in the state, such as the Makah Surfers, tend to be secretive when it comes to their favorite spots. Also, the locals have no desire to see the wildness of their landscape overrun by visitors. Thus, if you are new to the area, tread gently and be respectful to those who treasure this land. In turn, you’re going to fall in love with it too.
The best time of year to surf in Washington is autumn. Like Oregon, the state gets a late summer that creeps well into fall and tends to be the time of year with the least rain. As a result, conditions tend to produce cleaner waves less prone to crumble. You’ll be there in time to slip into the water before the gale-force winds arrive for winter.
Angeles Point is full of amazing views. It’s perfect for experienced surfers who love the challenge of avoiding the numerous rocks. However, locals are very protective of this location. So pick up your trash and pay the five buck fee to the owners who allow surfers to access this unique spot.
Cape Disappointment State Park might not have the most marketable name to recommend it. But it has brilliant views and some excellent waves in winter, especially at Waikiki Beach. Do remember, as it is in a park, there will be an entrance fee.
Cape Flattery is so gorgeous you might just want to sit on your board and stare. But there are some great waves, too, especially in December. Keep in mind you will be a guest on the Makah Reservation, so get your recreation pass and follow the rules.
Damon Point is known for its hiking, but some good surfing is to be found at the end of Damon Point Park. This park doesn’t have an entrance fee, but there is a hike to hit the surf spot. On the bright side, you won’t find much competition for the waves, either.
La Push is a small community on the Olympic Peninsula, which rose to the spotlight thanks to a certain vampire and werewolf trilogy. There are many great beaches, but First Beach is a popular spot for surfers. It’s a lovely area, with scenic views. It’s a great summer spot, free to access, and suits all surfing levels.
However, do be aware that there can be significant riptides. Also, from time to time, sharks pass through, so just stay alert.
Long Beach sits on Long Beach Peninsula and is a seaside community famed for its boardwalks and extensive beach, said to stretch for 28 miles. The seawater is clear, and there is plenty of room for everyone. You can get to it via seven different access points, including:
- Seaview Approach
- Cranberry Approach
- Ocean Park Approach
Seabrook is a small community with easy and free access to the beach. It’s a good area for all skill levels, although beginners may want to give winter a miss. But check in at Buck’s Bike for local advice if you are concerned. In addition to gear, Buck’s also provides lessons for surfing, paddleboarding, and skimboarding.
Shi Shi Beach
Shi Shi Beach keeps the crowds down by requiring a Makah Recreation pass to access the trailheads, then another two-mile hike to reach the waves. That said, plenty of people still flock to this area come summer to take in the amazing views. But the waves are best in winter, anyway, when visitor numbers are way down.
Strait of Juan de Fuca
The Strait of Juan de Fuca is spot on for experienced surfers looking for a secluded patch. Its best waves are in autumn and winter, but the area can be erratic, throwing up the unexpected, so do stay alert. You need to go through the Crescent City RV park and pay a small fee to reach it.
Westport is a coastal town near Westhaven State Park. The community is laidback, creating an atmosphere perfect for surfers. Since the area is so popular with surfers, there are many surf shops and places to take lessons, too, if you are new to the sport.
If you are a beginner or intermediate surfer, you’ll find the water best in summer. However, come winter, you need to be an advanced surfer.
The area boasts three fantastic surf spots:
- Half Moon Bay (The Cove)
- The Groins
- The Jetty
Half Moon Bay (The Cove)
This spot is filled with paddleboarders in summer. But winter and spring rush in large swells that will delight advanced surfers and challenge intermediate ones. It’s on the shallow side; thus, advice is to ride in hard and fast.
Due to being located within the State Park, do be aware there will be a fee to access this area.
This area can be perfect for long clean waves for more experienced surfers. These waves are thanks to the jetties that protect the marina. The site is located past the State Park entrance and does not have an entrance fee to access.
The Jetty is a lovely stretch for all levels. Its south end provides great waves for beginners, whereas the north end produces bigger waves that advanced surfers appreciate. This spot is located in the State Park. You can pay the daily entrance fee or get a Discovery Pass if staying for a while.
Surfing in Washington can be a refreshing experience from the more popular destinations. The rugged scenery is gorgeous, and you won’t spend so much time, or any, waiting in line. But the cold water has a bite, and the landscape makes you work for it. But in the end, the experience is worth it.