The Top Ten Beaches of the Pacific Northwest - Page 3
4. Lime Kiln Point, San Juan Island, Washington
This island sanctuary offers some of the best whale-watching in the world. To reach San Juan Island, take the ferry from Anacortes. You can drive your car onto the ferry, or save money by leaving it at the dock. Once the ferry reaches Friday Harbor, hop on a transit bus or rent a bike for the ten-mile trip to the Point, or better yet, bring your kayak onto the ferry with a wheeled trailer. Lime Kiln Point is a 36-acre day-use park on the west side of the island and offers prime whale-watching territory. In addition to orca whales, look for minke whales, seals, sea lions, and otters. Peak whale-watching season is May through September. Some 89 Orcas make the Haro Strait (the water around the park) their summer home, so chances are good that you'll catch more than a glimpse of these magnificent creatures. You can go out on a whale-watching boat or guided kayak trip, or rent a boat for your own adventure. There's excellent diving from the park, but currents are strong. After looking at sea life, grab your bike and head out on a self-guided tour of the island's many wineries.
San Juan Islands Beach Vacation Guide
3. Cape Perpetua, Oregon
Located just south of the fishing village of Yachats, Cape Perpetua is considered the best view on the Oregon coast. The Cape Perpetua Scenic Area encompasses 2,700 acres of land, with twice the botanical mass per square acre as South America's Amazon jungle. On a clear day, from the Cape Perpetua Viewpoint, an aerie-like perch 800 feet above the crashing surf, gaze some 40 miles out to sea and over more than 150 miles of shoreline. When the fog rolls in, you'll think you are standing in the clouds with the thunder of waves echoing below. An easy trail takes you to a 500-year-old giant spruce tree; kids love playing in the holes formed by the gnarled roots of its 15-foot-wide trunk. Drive to the viewpoint, or hike the trail that winds its way up to the high spot of the cape, then peer down at countless tide pools, Spouting Horn, and Devil's Churn. Devil's Churn is a crack in the rock where waves explode and spray water hundreds of feet into the air, and Spouting Horn rivals a whale's blow hole for height. Drive or hike back down to the beach to get up close and personal with Mother Nature's fountains. Look out across the water and you might see whales on their annual migration along the coast. En route to the horn, look for middens (shell heaps) left centuries ago by the Alsea Tribe. The parking fee for Cape Perpetua sites is $5 a day and $30 for the year. Stay at the Overleaf Lodge, which has family-friendly accommodations, a lovely new spa, and excellent tide pool access; or at the Fireside Motel, one of the most pet-friendly places in the country.
Oregon Beach Vacation Guide
2. Samuel Boardman State Park, Brookings, Oregon
Here, the mountains end where the beach begins. Compared to the cold, slap-your-face weather further north, this area is the banana belt of the Oregon coast. Daily temperatures rarely drop below 55 in the winter and hover at a balmy 70 in the summer. The 12-mile park, named for the state's first park superintendent, includes 27 miles of the Oregon Coast Trail. You'll wind past 300-year-old Sitka spruce forests, crystal-clear waterfalls, and dense jungles of fern and moss-covered trees. Wildflowers can be beautiful along the trail, especially the purple iris and brilliant blue trillium. Giant sea stacks with descriptive names like Whaleshead and House Rock sit offshore, and Natural Bridges Cove, located just north of the airy Thomas Creek Bridge, provides the best views. Take the short trail through old-growth forests to a 300-foot view of rocky natural arches dotting a sapphire cove. There is no use-fee for the park and boating is allowed. Visit the town of Brookings, just a few miles south. While reminders of the town's fishing and logging heyday linger, the balmy climate has attracted a host of expat artisans, restaurateurs, and hoteliers from San Francisco who lend unexpected sophistication to this quiet backwater. Take time to wander antique shops, watch fishing boats, and saunter through acres of 100-year-old azaleas in the park above town.
Brookings Beach Vacation Guide
1. Shi Shi Beach, Makah Indian Reservation, Washington
Where the waters of the Pacific Ocean flow into the Strait of Juan de Fuca sits one of the wildest places in the world. Tucked into the corner of the Makah Indian Reservation, Shi Shi Beach was only accessible to kayakers and adventurous hikers until a few years ago. The tribe extended the trail from Hobuck Beach south to this two-mile crescent of sand and rock. Prehistoric-looking sea stacks punctuate the shoreline, and the magnificent Point of Arches formation guards the southern border. Chances are you'll see eagles, sea otters, and in the spring and fall, gray whales. Explore the plentiful tide pools, but be sure to keep an eye on the tide. Stop at the Olympic National Park Wilderness Information Center (3002 Mount Angles Road) for a tide schedule. If you plan on camping, you can pick up a backcountry permit and bear-proof canister for a small fee. The trailhead for the 3.3-mile hike to the beach is in Neah Bay, two miles before the fish hatchery and about 60 miles west of Port Angeles; buy a Makah Recreation Pass at the trailhead. The beach is also accessible from the south, but the 13-mile hike is difficult.
Washington Beach Vacation Guide