Pacific Northwest: West Coast Beaches (May 6-9)

From Portland, we drove straight home to Port Angeles Monday morning, regrouped and made a plan to drive the 1.5 hours to the west coast beaches around La Push, Washington the next day.

Accommodation choices in the area are quite limited for non-campers like us, but we thought the affordable motel unit at the Quileute Oceanside Resort looked good. We were glad we had booked two nights when we arrived late Tuesday morning at our second story room with a balcony overlooking First Beach. There was a lot to check out around here and we were happy to be staying so close.

The view of First Beach from our room in La Push

We started by driving east a few miles to pick up Mora Road on the north side of the Quileute River. We stopped first to visit James Pond, but must have scared away most of the birds on our approach.

James Pond

The main attraction of the day was Rialto Beach and the Hole in the Wall natural arch at its far end. As we got out of the car, we heard music and discovered a lone guy playing his trumpet on the beach with his little boy. There was a handful of parked cars, but no other people around.

Susan on Rialto Beach

Rialto Beach, north of the Hole in the Wall

After the two mile walk to the end of the beach, we climbed to the top of the headlands behind the arch to look around and came down on the other side. Our timing was perfect with low tide at 5PM, exposing our first sightings of colorful starfish and anemones in the many tide pools.

Sea stacks on Rialto Beach, viewed from above the Hole in the Wall
Sea Star in a tide pool

Hole in the Wall

Sea Star, orange variety

Mike "shaking hands" with a sea star (without touching it)

Susan is dwarfed by the sea stacks of Rialto Beach

We prepared a simple dinner in the mini-kitchen of our room and called it a day.

Wednesday we decided to hike to Third Beach, but took our time getting there as the morning was overcast. The forest approach was not difficult, and the clouds lifted as we arrived at the beach. Low tide was at 6:10PM so we had all afternoon to play and observe the bald eagles soaring and chattering above.

The easy hiking path to Third Beach

Sea stacks along Third Beach

Our goal was to get close to Strawberry Falls, which empties into the Pacific Ocean. As the tide continued to fall, we worked our way around successive rocky outcroppings getting ever closer to our seventh waterfall until we could go no further, then walked back enjoying the dramatic late afternoon light. The days were getting longer.

Strawberry Falls on Third Beach

Petey Pika is introduced to a sea star near Strawberry Falls :-)

We caught the sunset back at First Beach not far from our room, and again prepared a light dinner in our room.

Sunset on Third Beach

Thursday started out overcast as well, but the clouds and morning fog gave way to a very sunny day. We arrived at the Second Beach trailhead a little after 11AM and the approach was even easier than Third Beach.

Second Beach

Susan on Second Beach

We emerged from the forest to photo ops of sea stacks in every direction. This beach was also about 2 miles long, with tidepools at the southern end. A short distance to the north was a natural arch that proved very photogenic at sunset.

Panorama of our private spot on Second Beach

Sculpted sand on the beach

Mike visited and shared notes with a couple of other photographers who were there to shoot the sunset. We hadn't planned to stay all day, and the drive home was long, but well worth the memories and photos from this great day!

Sunset at Second Beach


  1. Are you sure that last picture is real? It looks like there should be unicorns frolicking on the beach or something.

  2. I love the sculpted sand, I live along a river and I am amazed at how the water leaves such a cool design!

  3. Very nice series Mike. I especially like Rialto Beach & the sea stacks. You've got me thinking about third Beach as well. Thanks for sharing.