Shi Shi Beach (pronounced shy shy) is an 8.8-mile round trip out-and-back hike on the northern Olympic Coast. Walk among tide pools down to Point of Arches, an outcrop of more than 30 sea stacks. Thousands of photos have been snapped here to capture the foggy views of famous stacks, such as Spike Rock and The Finger, against a Pacific sunset. The Shi Shi Beach hike can easily be done in a day or you can camp in one of multiple campsites along the beach or inland a bit in the forest. An added treat – make a driftwood fire in one of the provided fire rings or on the beach.
Shi Shi Beach is especially beautiful during low tide when small rock formations and tide pools become visible. Look for sea life including aggregating anemone, hairy chiton, keyhole limpet, Pacific geoduck and purple sea stars. From the beach, it’s also possible to watch whales. At high tide, enjoy the sandy beach and camp among driftwood. But don’t get trapped beyond Point of Arches when the tide rises as it becomes impassible.
Where Should I Park for Shi Shi Beach?
Although Shi Shi Beach is in the national park, the parking and trailhead access are on the Makah Indian Reservation. After being closed to the general public for two years during COVID restrictions, the Makah Reservation reopened to the public on March 15, 2022. Non-Makah visitors must be vaccinated and KN95 or N95 masks are highly recommended but not required. High Risk individuals should mask.
Before you head for the trailhead, a Makah Recreation Pass must be purchased in Neah Bay in advance. There are many businesses that offer the pass for sale in town (makah.com/activities). The trailhead parking lot is for day hikers only.
If you want to camp on the beach, pick up an Olympic Wilderness Permit in person at the Wilderness Information Center (WIC) in Port Angeles or at the South Shore Lake Quinault Ranger Station. Call for hours at 360-565-3100. Also, if you are hiking south of Shi Shi Beach and camping, reservations are required May 1 through Sept. 30. Note that there is no overnight parking at the Makah trailhead but there are private parking areas run by locals on the road to the trail, about 1 mile and .6 miles before you reach the trailhead.
To get to the trailhead, drive through the town of Neah Bay heading west along Bay View Avenue for 1 mile. Bay View Avenue becomes Cape Flattery Road if you follow the yellow lines on the pavement. The road will turn sharply left, then after 0.1 miles turn sharply right once you get to the west side of the main downtown area. Follow the signs past the clinic for 0.1 miles and turn sharply left again and follow the road along the foot of Bahokus Peak. You will be on Cape Flattery Road. After 2.5 miles follow the signs and turn left on Hobuck Road across the Wa’atch River. At the first intersection after the bridge go straight and follow the signs for the Fish Hatchery. The parking area is located on the right side of the road.
How Long is the Shi Shi Beach Trail?
The 8.8-mile round trip hiking trail starts on the north end with your first two miles on boardwalks and dirt paths through forest. But after a sharp 160-foot decent on a bluff, aided by an anchored rope, the beach opens up to you with two plus miles of rocky formations and large remnants of trees protruding up from the ocean.
Loop hikers turn around at Point of Arches to head back. It can be difficult to spot the forest trail from the beach. Watch for the round trail marker to enter the steep wooded hillside trail back to the trailhead.
To make a longer hike or to backpack, connect with the Ozette Loop or hike on to Hole-in-the-Wall near La Push at Rialto Beach. Note that there are areas which you cannot cross during high tide, such as Point of Arches. Get a detailed map or contact a ranger station to find out which crossing have alternative land routes for high tide.
Shi Shi Beach Safety
- Know the tides.
- Carry a map and tide chart to plan your route.
- When camping on the beach, be sure to camp above the high tide waterline.
Need an Olympic National Park map? Buy the National Geographic Trails Illustrated Olympic National Park map at REI.com. The map includes clearly marked trails and points of interest such as scenic views, campgrounds, trailheads, boat launches, picnic sites, ranger stations and more printed on waterproof, tear-resistant material.