Best Beaches in the Pacific Northwest
By Jillian Kincaid
Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I’ve had the privilege of visiting some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. Between Washington and Oregon lies 4,436 miles of coastline. This landscape is known for its dramatic scenery and breathtaking beaches.
Some of the best beaches in the Pacific Northwest are located just a few hours outside of two major cities: Portland and Seattle. Every year, thousands visit to appreciate the lush forests, towering cliffs, and quaint little towns.
Whether it’s a long weekend getaway you need. Or perhaps a quick day trip to hit the reset button, the beaches of the Pacific Northwest have something to offer everyone who visits.
So let’s jump right in and take a look at some of the best beaches in the Pacific Northwest and all they have to offer!
Located only an hour and a half outside of Portland, this bustling beach town offers it all.
Take a stroll down Seaside’s historical and vibrant 1.5-mile promenade full of shops, arcades, restaurants, and more. Here you’ll also find Seaside’s popular 25-year-old carousel featuring 24 different animals.
And if you’re traveling with the family, make sure you pay a visit to the Seaside Aquarium to feed the seals. This local landmark has been a staple in the community since 1937.
Feeling more adventurous?
Grab some friends and join one of the many volleyball games taking place on the beach! Or, try surfing for the first time – just remember to bring your wetsuit!
Some other fun activities you will find in Seaside:
And with dozens of hotels and vacation homes lining the beach, finding a cozy hideaway in Seaside is easy.
With so much to do in this lively beach town, it’s no wonder both tourists and native west coasters travel here year-round. Come visit and you too will see why Seaside is one of the best beaches in the pacific northwest!
Cannon Beach, Oregon
If a quiet and scenic getaway is more your style, then Cannon Beach may be exactly what you are looking for.
Imagine miles of sandy beaches, dramatic rocks shooting up from the ocean floor, and active tidepools waiting to be discovered.
It’s no wonder Cannon Beach is named one of National Geographic’s 100 most beautiful places. It’s also featured by Ocean Blue Project as one of the Best Beaches In The United States.
Also known for its booming art scene, you will find dozens of art galleries to peruse. All featuring work from local artists inspired by their surroundings. Cannon Beach holds three art festivals throughout the year in May, June, and November.
Join a Cannon Beach Cleanup with Ocean Blue Project.
Art not your thing? That’s ok!
Instead, pay a visit to the historical and protected wildlife refuge, Haystack Rock. When the tide is out, visitors can walk right up to this towering masterpiece and find it thriving with marine life.
While this town is a bit slower-paced and ideal for a low-key getaway, there are still many adventures to be had just a few minutes away.
Visit these two beautiful coastal parks in the Pacific Northwest for some amazing hiking trails:
Ecola State Park
Oswald West State park
This town offers beautiful scenery and charming streets full of specialty shops, restaurants, and more.
Cannon Beach is the perfect retreat for someone looking to just unwind.
Pacific City, Oregon
A small town with a population of only 1,076, this hidden gem is for anyone looking for a peaceful retreat. You won’t find crowded beaches and busy sidewalks here but, in fact, quite the opposite.
Perfect for a honeymoon getaway or a romantic weekend. You’ll be stunned by the beauty and privacy this little town offers.
No need to worry, there’s still plenty to do here!
Hike the trails of Cape Kiwanda for hard-to-beat views of the Pacific and Chief Kiawanda rock. Here you’ll also discover vibrant tide pools full of starfish, sea cucumbers, and more!
Looking to make your trip unique and memorable?
How about parking your car on the sand for a picnic or bonfire. It’s legal!
Here are some other fun things to do in Pacific City:
- Horseback Riding
- Clamming & Crabbing
- Hang Gliding & Paragliding
Speaking from personal experience, Pacific City and the beach there will leave a lasting impression on you.
Its flourishing wildlife and serene nature make it one of the best beaches in the Pacific Northwest.
Long Beach, Washington
The Long Beach peninsula in Washington state is the longest continuous beach in the country at 28 miles long.
Imagine taking a stroll down the expansive boardwalk to the sound of waves crashing.
Or, pay a visit to one of the two lighthouses nearby: North Head and Cape Disappointment. North Head lighthouse happens to be the 2nd windiest lighthouse in the country at 120 mph!
Long Beach is also known for its Razor Clam festival that has remained a staple in the community since the 1940s.
If your looking to get more active while visiting, I’ve put together a long list of other fun things to do:
- Horseback Riding
- Fishing Charters
- ATV Rentals
When you’re ready to wind down, take in the views at one of the most beautiful coastal parks in the Pacific Northwest: Cape Disappointment State Park.
I promise it will NOT disappoint!
And if you’re looking for a more “out of the box” experience, pay a visit to the World’s Largest Frying Pan.
With such a wide variety of activities to offer, this beach will easily become one of your favorite vacation destinations. Ocean Blue host beach cleanups in Long Beach, Washington. Volunteer of the Year Long Beach, Washington.
Pacific Beach, Washington
Pacific Beach is Washington’s “best-kept secret.” This Beach offers a family-friendly and quiet retreat.
This beautiful location provides 2,300 feet of shoreline great for camping, whale watching, and fishing.
The Pacific Beach community remains untouched by major developments. It’s nestled between the Olympic National Forest and the Pacific Ocean. This oasis offers unbeatable views of the coastline, rivers, and forests.
If you’re looking for some more fun and adventure, you can enjoy the green on the Ocean Shores golf course. Quinault Beach Resort & Casino is also located 16 miles out of town.
There’s something for everyone when paying a visit to this hidden gem!
Protecting the best beaches in the Pacific Northwest
For many of us, beach trips have become some of our most cherished memories. It can be easy to get swept up in the cool breeze, salty air, and the feelings of freedom and healing the ocean provides.
We often forget the long-term impact our short visits have on the beauty of our one world Ocean.
Today, the amount of plastic and garbage flooding our beaches and oceans is devastating. By the year 2050, it’s estimated that we will have more plastic in the ocean than fish.
And let’s not forget that here in the Pacific Northwest, lies one major issue known as the Pacific Garbage Patch located 1,000 miles offshore.
Whether you’re camping out for the weekend, hiking the coastline, or spending a day sunbathing, be mindful. It’s important to make environmentally friendly choices when preparing your travel plans.
Cutting back on your single-use plastics is a great place to start. If you aren’t sure how, Allegra Cook offers some really great tips in her article 5 Powerful Ways To Reduce Your Single-Use Plastic In The New Year.
Looking to get more involved with beach cleanups?
Gather your squad and head to your favorite beach to enjoy the sun and surf while making a difference.
Ocean Blue Project makes getting more involved easy. Make sure you check out your local beach cleanup options.
And if getting to a beach cleanup isn’t possible for you, there are other wonderful ways to contribute.
Start by making a donation today to help remove one pound of plastic for every dollar donated.
You can also pick up some of Ocean Blue Project’s awesome products in the Ocean Blue Shop. Your purchase of these items will help to remove 5 pounds of plastic per every $5 spent.
Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter! Visit our blog to see what Ocean Blue Project has in store next and to stay up to date on the latest environmental news.
Pay a visit to the best beaches in the Pacific Northwest today!
Author Bio: Jillian is a copywriter living in Portland, OR. In her downtime she loves hiking, reading, trying new vegan restaurants, and napping with her dog Nala.
Community Beach Cleanup - Long Beach Peninsula
Ocean Blue Project Cleanups Long Beach, Washington
Become a Ocean Blue Beach Cleanup Leader. Past events have been so fun and we look forward to many more years of Long Beach Cleanups.
July 4th fireworks take a toll on Long Beach, Washington shores. Long Beach local citizen, Carrie Day, joined in beach clean-up activities with Ocean Blue as well as on her own. She documented her findings on social media and urged other locals to do the same. In a place where it is controversial to raise awareness about the massive 4th of July fireworks pollution, Carrie stepped forward to do her part and speak up about the importance of everyone doing their part too.
In the fall, when firework debris was still present along the Long Beach Peninsula, Chris Brue organized a clean-up with fellow geocachers for the 5th Annual Cache, Dash, Splash event. They pride themselves in doing a Cache In Trash Out or CITO event on an annual basis and in 2019, Chris Brue led dozens of geocachers in cleaning up Long Beach.