Washington State’s most picturesque beaches are generally regarded for their epic views, massive sea stacks, and crashing surf. But next time you’re on the beach, don’t forget to look down – there’s beauty in the small details waiting just underfoot.
Tide pools teeming with life, ageless sea glass, stunning sea shells… there’s an entire world waiting to be explored along our coastline. So next time you’re longing for the water, here’s your guide to tide pooling and beachcombing in Washington state.
Head to West Seattle for a unique urban experience you’d be hard pressed to find in many other cities: tide pool exploration. Me-Kwa-Mooks means “shaped like a bear’s head” in Nisqually, the native name for West Seattle peninsula, and this park provides glimpses of wildlife such as limpets, shore crabs, sea stars, hermit crabs, and sculpins. Make a day of it and reserve a picnic area for the family.
Venture out to the Olympic Peninsula for some truly outstanding beachcombing in Washington state. Grayland Beach, south of Grays Harbor, is perfectly situated for collecting treasures. The 13 mile-long beach, wonderfully flat and ideal for long forays, somehow manages to accumulate an impressive array of stuff from faraway lands. Rent a campsite— Grayland Beach State Park offers 55 campsites, 16 yurts, standard tent sites, and primitive tent sites not far from the ocean. What’s more, you can enjoy incredible sand dunes along the park’s trails for additional fun.
Birch Bay State Park is full of fun activities, highlighted by some of the best beachcombing in Washington state. The beach is strewn with scores of sea shells and you can even harvest shellfish when in-season. It’s best to visit at low-tide, when this steep, rocky beach is tamed by the receding tides. Birch Bay is also known for having pretty warm waters for swimming and other fun on the water. Check out the local marsh, which is one of the last remaining fresh/saltwater estuaries in the northern Puget Sound. You’ll be sure to enjoy tide pools and loads of sea shells at this park – just make sure no critters are using them if you plan to take a few home.
Point No Point
This spot on Puget Sound was named one of the top shelling beaches in the country by Travel + Leisure. If you need another reason to go, take your pick: there’s a great view of Mount Rainier and tours of the area’s oldest lighthouse. You can even rent the lighthouse keeper’s quarters, a duplex built in 1879.
Sandwiched between Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands, Deception Pass’s dizzying heights, turbulent waters, and thrilling bridge crossing make for an incredible spot to hunt for beachcombing in Washington state. The rocky shores around the pass are full of beautiful stones and sea glass, worn smooth by the rough waters.
Kalaloch’s Beach 4
This area is one of the best tide pooling beaches in the state. Search for colorful anemones, sea stars, crabs, fish, and more, on your own or through a National Park Service ranger-led program. Along with Ruby Beach, the Kalaloch beaches provide some of the best beach combing in Washington state. You can also camp out along the beach, enjoy seven beach trails, or take the 1-mile Kalaloch Nature Trail loop through the coastal forest.