The Washington Coast is a very underrated oceanfront experience. While it lacks the constant sunshine and long stretches of pure white sand, it makes up for it in several ways.
You can truly get away from it all on the Washington Coast because there are no huge population centers there. With all of the sparsely settle area, you can go there and be sure to find a place you can call your own.
One of the top destinations on the Washington Coast is Ocean Shores. This popular vacation getaway is not only home to beaches and access to the water of the Pacific Ocean, but also hotels, restaurants, a golf course, boat rentals, an arcade, moped and bicycle rentals, go carts, bumper boats, and more. While there, one of the best things you can do is bust your way out of town and head north on Highway 109.
Washington’s Highway 109 starts in Hoquiam and heads west to the turn off to Ocean Shores, before it turns and follows the coastline north to where it ends in the tiny community of Taholah. There are a number of scenic locations that this road will take you right by and along the way you’ll find plenty of access to the beaches and also some small communities. Taking this highway north and exploring from Ocean Shores to Taholah can be a fun activity, no matter why you came to the beach.
Stage 1: Choices
You have two choices on how to get out to Highway 109 when leaving Ocean Shores. You can head out on the same road you came in on until you reach a tiny community known as Hogan’s Corner, take a left at the stop sign and you’re on your way. If you’re a bit more adventurous and love driving on the beach like me, head out on one of Ocean Shores’ main beach access roads, take a right, and drive up the hard packed sand. Driving on the beach has got to be one of the best parts about the Washington Coast and something that a seasoned road tripper just has to love. About four miles north, and come on, that’s a long time to be beach drivin’, you’ll come to Ocean City where you can take a right and return to the pavement. No matter which route you take, you’ll pass by the Quinault Beach Resort and Casino. This is another fun stop off when in the area but right now its just too much of a distraction from this little road trip.
Stage 2: Quiet Beaches
Leaving Ocean City, you’ll be driving through thick forests and past the occasional campground or RV park. Next up is Copalis Beach, another of the sleepy little beach communities in this area. Griffiths-Priday Ocean State Park is located just north of there and though the parking lot is small, there is a whole lot of protected beach there with trails leading off through the tall grass. North of there, on the other side of the Copalis River, is Copalis State Airport. If what you’re picturing is SeaTac or even a small municipal airport, you’ve got to get those pictures out of your head. Copalis State Airport is merely a stretch of wide open sand that the State of Washington has designated as a public airstrip. It’s not uncommon to pull up there and see small planes landing right on the beach. That right there is reason enough to stop and check it out. Continue on north from there on old 109 and eventually you’ll come to a sign noting “Beach Access” and it’s worth taking. This is a great little beach area, known as Roosevelt Beach, that features a creek flowing right across the sand on your right when you drive in. As you drive south on the sand, the scenery is gorgeous as you have the Pacific Ocean out the passenger window and some colorful cliff walls out the driver’s side. Eventually reach Boone Creek, also flowing across the sand, and that’s the sign to turn around and head back to the highway.
Stage 3: Beautiful Place to Live
Venturing on north from Roosevelt Beach, your next stop will be Seabrook. If you’d first traveled to this part of the Washington Coast in the early 2000’s or earlier, Seabrook didn’t even exist. Today this adorable little community that sprung up out of nowhere is filled with modern built homes that visually nod back to a simpler time. Drive the streets here and you’ll swear you’re in another part of the country and possibly even in the middle of the last century. Just north from Seabrook is the much older town of Pacific Beach. Here you’ll find a couple of lodging options, some stores, a great bakery, a couple of restaurant options, and Pacific Beach State Park. If you’re itching to get out and drive on the beach again, here’s your chance. On the north end of Pacific Beach, the beach access road gets you down on the sand and you can drive it all the way to the next little town on Highway 109, Moclips. Moclips is home to more lodging options, most of them in the form of vacation rentals. The beach between those two communities is wide open and welcoming with plenty of room for everyone. It isn’t uncommon to go there and find only one or two other cars parked out on the sand. Moclips is also home to the Museum of the North Beach which can be a real fun visit. This part of the coast will either make you not want to leave or at least start planning your return trip.
Stage 4: The Quinault Reservation
Continuing north from Moclips, you’ll be entering the Quinault Reservation. This reservation was founded in 1855 for a native tribe that once freely roamed the entire Olympic Peninsula. It’s a beautiful area that features tall forests and a rocky coastline. A notable place to stop with some incredible scenery is Point Grenville, a former Coast Guard station that was commissioned in 1949 and decommissioned in 1980. Point Grenville is accessible but requires a permit. You can get the permit just north from there in the small town of Taholah. Taholah is a tiny town at the very end of Highway 109 that includes a small seafood processing plant owned by the tribe, and the gorgeous mouth of the Quinault River. Comparing the look of this small reservation town to the communities you’ve driven through on the way there can be quite the eyeopener too. Accessing the clear blue water of the Quinault River can be done right where the water meets the Pacific Ocean. You’ll be amazed at the stunning beach there that features age old driftwood trees scattered across it. This is a very special place on the Washington Coast.
Stage 5: The Return Trip
That trip on Highway 109 from Ocean Shores to Taholah is only about 25 miles long. Depending on what you plan on doing on the way back you could find yourself back in Ocean Shores in as little as a half hour or so. If you didn’t take the chance to drive the beach on the way up though, you should really do it on the way back as it is easily one of the best parts of being in the region. Plus, this gives you the opportunity to stop at any of the cool things you saw on the way north.
If you’re spending any amount of time in Ocean Shores, a drive up to the end of Highway 109 and back could be one of the more fun activities you do while you’re there. Plus, you just may stumble across an area you would rather stay at during your next visit to the beautiful Washington Coast.