22 Dec 2018
Oh winter. The thundering crash of the waves, velvet gray clouds, and drizzly rains. The invigorating nip of the air, fragrant with sea salt! A magical spot during the winter, the Washington Coast beckons with seasonal activities from chocolate festivals in Pacific Beach, to breathtaking seaside hikes in the Olympic National Park. Who says summer is the only time to visit the Washington Coast? Here are 22 reasons you’ll love winter on the Washington Coast.
With no land masses between the Washington coast and Japan, storm fronts rolling in from the west have 3,000 miles of open ocean to build into spectacular events. As winter storms collide with the coastline, watching the waves crest and crash against the rocky capes and cliffs is an exhilarating experience.
Throughout the season, you may notice clusters of people digging on the ocean beaches. They’re not digging for gold, but something much tastier - clams! At Seabrook, digging for clams is a popular leisure activity for families, groups of friends, and visitors to the region. Why? Because it’s fun, and it’s easy! You just get out here and do it. Everyone who tries it loves it. And for many, it quickly becomes a family tradition.
SURF WINTER WAVES
Surfing in the Pacific Ocean in the middle of winter might sound like a crazy idea, but if you seek adventure and jump at the opportunity to try new things, then squeeze into your wetsuit and wax your surfboards because it’s time to catch some waves! Those who brave the conditions to paddle out off the Washington coast in the winter are treated to big swells, thin crowds, and breathtaking, wild terrain.
Nothing beats a little romance and relaxation in a hot tub on a deck overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Many of Seabrook’s rental homes feature private hot tubs and incredible views sure to nourish your body and soul.
Sure, it might be cold outside, but the winter season is the best time to go beachcombing. Why? The heavier waves the coast gets this time of year stirs up the surf and drops a fortune of unique treasures on to the beach. The best time to go beachcombing is after a storm when the tides are low so the beach is exposed and you can find more treasures.
Olympic National Park is said to be one of the most stunningly beautiful places in the world. With rainforests, glaciated mountains, and the longest stretches of undistributed coastal wilderness in the lower 48, the Olympic National Forest is a hikers paradise.
The Hoh Rainforest is one of four rainforests on the Olympic Penninsula, but it’s the only one that has received the distinction of being a World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. Its rare ecosystem has remained unchanged for thousands of years and is now the most carefully preserved rainforest in the Northern Hemisphere. The most common types of trees you will see in the Hoh Rainforest are Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock (Washington’s official state tree), which can reach over 300 feet high and seven feet in diameter.
HALL OF MOSSES
The Hall of Mosses Trail is one of the most renowned hiking trails in Olympic National Park. The trail is situated in the Hoh Rainforest, one of the largest temperate rainforests in the U.S. The Hall of Mosses Trail is a well-marked trail with lots of informational signs. On your way you will encounter towering old trees covered by moss, be sure to look for the animals and birds that live in this forest. Kids will love this loop, and at less than a mile roundtrip, it's a great option for hikers of any age.
Located in Olympic National Park just north of La Push and on the other side of the Quillayute River, Rialto Beach is famed for its smooth-pebbled shoreline, massive, bus-sized driftwood, views of the James Island complex of offshore stacks, and being the starting point for the 1.5-mile hiking trail that leads to Hole-in-the-Wall, famous in its own right. Everybody should witness these massive sea stacks, enormous driftwood logs, and watch the Pacific Ocean waves crash into the shoreline at least once in their lives.
Grab your jacket, hat, gloves, and don't forget your camera because Kalaloch Beach and the Tree of Life is a must-see! Also known as Tree Root Cave - or a freak of nature by others - the Tree of Life has a visible rooting system and is thriving despite no soil.
Second Beach is often considered to be the best beach in Olympic National Park with its towering sea stacks and smooth sandy beach. The beach is also known for its iconic sunsets, which peaks through a hole in its most famous sea stack. This is one of the most scenic displays the Pacific Northwest has to offer.
One of the “hardest” hikes along LaPush beach system, Third Beach features a stunning section of coastal wilderness and a chance to see a waterfall plunge directly into the Pacific Ocean. At just 3.6 miles round trip, Third Beach is less visited than the region’s other beaches, giving a chance at solitude in a normally popular area.
SHI SHI BEACH
Shi Shi Beach and Point of the Arches is one of the most unforgettable and gorgeous beaches in the world. Home to world class scenery that makes every picture look like something out of National Geographic, visitors experience views of sea stacks, rock formations, tide pools, eagles and the occasional whale sighting.
The Ozette Triangle is a nine-mile hike through forests, over coastal marshlands, and to one of the most popular beach wilderness backpacking destinations in the world. The trail can be hiked in a day and is broken up into three sections - the initial boardwalk, the beach, and the return boardwalk. Watch eagles soar, explore pristine tide pools, and look at abandoned homesteads on your Ozette trip.
PACIFIC BEACH STATE PARK
Pacific Beach State Park is a 17-acre camping park with 2,300 feet of ocean shoreline. The beach provides a variety of wonders, from dramatic surf to beachcombing. Inhale the salty sea air and listen to the Pacific Ocean as it crashes on the shore by your side.
GRIFFITHS-PRIDAY STATE PARK
Griffiths-Priday is set on the Pacific coast, at the mouths of Connor Creek and the Copalis River, 15 minutes south of Seabrook. Griffiths-Priday State Park is a 533-acre marine day-use park with 8,316 feet of saltwater shoreline on the Pacific Ocean, and 9,950 feet of freshwater shoreline on the Copalis River. Walk on the beach or sit by the river. Fly a kite, run with your dog, dig for shellfish. Or wade into freshwater and catch a few fish while breathing ocean air..
OCEAN CITY STATE PARK
Right in the middle of the Washington coast you will find the lovely, unpretentious Ocean City State Park. Ocean City State Park is a year-round, 257-acre camping park, featuring ocean beach, dunes, dense thickets of shore pine, and nearly 3000 feet of shoreline on the Pacific Ocean. In most seasons, you can drive on the beach, so you won't have to schlep picnic food, chairs, day tents and bags all the way from the parking lot. Please observe the 25-mph speed limit, as it is a state highway.
WESTPORT LIGHT STATE PARK
Westport Light State Park is a stretch of Pacific Coast beach and dunes on the southern Washington coast known by locals as South Beach. It is named after the 107-foot Westport Lighthouse, or Grays Harbor Light Station, which stands inland from the shore and is visible from most locations within the 212-acre park. A 1.3-mile concrete boardwalk connects Westport Light State Park to adjacent Westhaven State Park and includes several viewing platforms for bird watching and expansive views of the beach.
FOOD & DRINK
It’s not hard to find fresh seafood on the Washington coast. Just about every town has at least one good restaurants, but there are a few that you’re sure to love: For Fish and Chips try Mill 109 in Seabrook or the Green Latern in Copalis Beach; for seafood Pizza, you’ll love Frontagers in Seabrook.
There are few greater joys in life than a bowl of chowder on a rainy day at the Washington Coast. You can find good clam chowder just about anywhere along the Washington Coast, but the Mill 109 in Seabrook and Alec’s By The Sea in Ocean Shores are your best bets.
The Washington Coast is becoming a player in the booming craft brewery scene in Washington. With local breweries like Hoquiam Brewing Co., Steam Donkey Brewing, Westport Brewing, and Blackbeard’s Brewing Co., the Washington Coast is creating some of the best craft beers in the country. Whether you’re looking for a stout, blonde, or double IPA, be sure to ask your friendly bartender for suggestions on local favorites.
WINE BY THE FIRE
Winter is a great time to curl up next to a fire with your favorite bottle of wine from the Stowaway Wine Bar or Front Street Market. You can finish reading that great book you started, play some classic board games, or just have a nice fireside conversation.