Hike through old-growth forests or kayak into the sea on this peaceful stretch of coastline.
Stretching along the Pacific Ocean, from the Canada-US border clear down to the mouth of the Columbia River, the Washington Coast offers miles and miles of natural coastline, with sandy beaches, quiet coves, islands, and plenty of evergreen forest. Camp in ancient forests in Olympic National Park, take a whale-watching cruise through the San Juan Islands, or simply take a relaxing break in one of the region's many quiet fishing communities. And while cooler temperatures mean you probably won’t have much luck with your tan, what this region lacks in hot-and-sunny beaches, it more than makes up for with untouched natural beauty.
From west of the Puget Sound all the way to the Pacific Ocean, the Olympic Peninsula is among the least developed expanses in the state. Its biggest draw is Olympic National Park, known for the rejuvenating Sol Duc Hot Springs, snow-clad Mount Olympus, and the old-growth groves of the Hoh Rainforest. While outdoor adventure is the area’s star attraction, the Olympic Peninsula also features a handful of cute coastal communities, including Port Angeles and Moclips.
Between Seattle and the Olympic Peninsula, Puget Sound is an inlet and estuary that offers solid opportunities for urban adventure and quiet repose. The eastern part of the sound is predominantly urban and dominated by the Seattle metro area, while the communities to the west offer a slower pace of life, with farms, state parks, and wineries. Vashon Island, Bainbridge Island, and Whidbey Island are all popular weekend getaways, with easy access to nature and camping.
Sandwiched between the Strait of Georgia and the Strait of San Juan de Fuca off the coast of northwest Washington, the San Juan Islands are known for their coastal forest scenery and outdoor adventure. The islands attract plenty of vacationers for camping, sea kayaking, and whale-watching. If you're short on time and don't want to take a ferry, stay on the mainland at the sprawling Larrabee State Park or the more compact Birch Bay State Park.
The southern Washington coast is characterized by wooded state parks and compact fishing communities. Popular spots include Leadbetter Point State Park, Willapa National Wildlife Refuge, and the town of Long Beach—though for truly epic ocean views, head to Cape Disappointment State Park, where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean.