Stroll on one of the Pacific beaches in Olympic National Park and explore tide pools, watch the sun set behind pillaring sea stacks or scan the waters for migrating whales. These are some of the favorite things to do in the park and the reason why travelers make the trip on winding country roads to this remote edge of the peninsula.
What many visitors don’t know is that they are enjoying a national marine sanctuary, spanning 25 to 40 miles seaward with over 3,000 square miles of waters. The Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary reaches from the northwestern-most point of the contiguous U.S. near Cape Flattery to the mouth of the Copalis River over 100 miles to the south, bordering every beach in the national park and beyond.
Stop in the Olympic Coast Discovery Center
Near the ferry pier in Port Angeles inside the Landing Building, sits the Olympic Coast Discovery Center. Come inside to learn about marine conservation, the local sea life and scientific exploration in the sanctuary waters. The museum features interpretive displays and staff to help you check the weather, tides and currents.
Top Things to Do at the Sanctuary
The mission of the marine sanctuary is to protect the coast’s natural and cultural resources, but it is also to promote understanding through public outreach and education. So don’t think the sanctuary is off-limits. The public is welcome to enjoy the beaches and the waters.
ON THE BEACH
Go hiking, backpacking and camping on the national park beaches. At low tides, explore the sea life in tide pools. Bird watching is especially popular near Cape Flattery, and you can watch for whales right from the beaches on the Whale Trail.
Before you go to the beaches, check the predicted tides for the day, get a camping permit if you are staying overnight, and if you are parking at a trailhead on native land, you may need to get a parking permit.
ON THE WATER
Go fishing, sea kayaking, surfing and diving. Charters for salmon, halibut, lingcod and tuna fishing are available from Neah Bay, La Push, Sekiu and Westport.
For more information:
Olympic Coast Discovery Center
115 East Railroad Ave, Suite#301, Port Angeles, WA 98362