There are few things more treasured in the Pacific Northwest than its beaches. This celebratory guide features more than 30 favorite coastal and island beaches in Washington and Oregon, providing tips for visiting, fun facts, natural history, and native lore. Charming illustrations will capture the roar of the surf, the call of the wildlife, and the beauty of our beaches. Sure to delight the avid beachcomber and curious visitor alike, this makes the perfect gift and guide for PNW beach-lovers and nature enthusiasts.
About the Author
JAKE STOUMBOS is an illustrator, animator, and graphic designer based out of Seattle, WA. With his roots in studio art and education in graphic design, Jake has a unique approach to creation, working seamlessly between analog and digital media. Jake Stoumbos was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, where he grew a love for nature, music, and skateboarding. Visit his Instagram @stoombz, or find him online at jakestoumbos.com.
Read an Excerpt
Many of my earliest and best memories take place on beaches. Every year from Mother’s Day to Labor Day, tribes of the Pacific Northwest gather on beaches to watch or participate in intertribal canoe races. Paddlers begin training in early spring, and as a child, I often accompanied my mother during canoe practice.
Sometimes I got to ride along. As we sped across the waves, I would dip my hand over the side and watch as the water leapt up around my fingers, then swirled away behind us. The downside to riding in the canoe was that I had to be very still so that we didn’t tip. This is a big ask for a small child, so I usually opted to sit on the beach and watch the paddlers grow small as they went away, then grow large again as they returned.
During all that time onshore, I discovered an endless number of things to do on a beach. You could tip over rocks and watch the tiny crabs scuttle away down into the darkness. You could skip stones and look for agates, or beach glass, or eagle feathers. If there were other children, you could build driftwood forts.
Eventually, we moved from the western shore to the eastern shore of our reservation. There was a new beach with new diversions. For starters, the tide went way, waaaaay outso far out that that it seemed you could walk across the bay to get to town on the other side. I once walked with my brother and sister and a bunch of cousins to catch up with the water’s edge. It must have taken us hours. We had to race the tide back in. It was a thrill and a terror to have salt water pooling at our heels, though I think we were more likely to be carried off by an eagle than to be sucked out into the bay.
All summer long we spent entire days playing on the beach. We would pack a cooler full of snacks and head for the water. We would build a fire and roast marshmallows and hot dogs. Sometimes during a minus tide, the adults would join us and have a volleyball game out on the tide flats. If we were lucky, the high tide would spit out a giant log into the bay. We would try to clamber on top of it and ride it, pretending it was a whale, a surfboard, or the Titanic.
Though I don’t spend as much time at the beach as I did when I was a child, I still make regular visits to beaches near my current home and short day trips to beaches around the Pacific Northwest. The happiness and peace of these places is a treasure. Rain or shine, the shoreline is a place of magic and majesty. I invite you to visit one or many of the beautiful public beaches in this book and soak up some of that happiness that dances across the waves.
Since time immemorial tribes have thrived along the shores of the Salish Sea. We have celebrated rich cultural traditions and customs. We have enjoyed a vibrant and sustainable trade economy. Our beaches have long been places of reciprocity, where gifts are exchanged between the creatures and the people of the sea. The glittering waterways have provided us with life-giving sustenance, acted as our highways so that we might connect, and filled our spirits with awe so that we might always hold the beauty of our homelands in the highest reverence.
Many of the beaches in this book offer interpretive exhibits along trails and at viewpoints. Some outline the history of European settlement, while others give details on how to interact with the area’s biological diversity. As you enjoy your time in these beautiful places, please also acknowledge that for thousands of years these sites have also been special, and even sacred to tribes.
I invite you to feel profound gratitude for the land and waterto experience these places with the same love and reverence felt for them by their original inhabitants. I invite you to let your feeling for these places shape you. I invite you to carry love for this beautiful Earth into all the spaces you inhabit and to interact with them accordingly.
Customs and Traditions
When a visiting tribe arrived on their neighbor’s shores, a delegation was sent to greet them. Visitors would request permission to come ashore, and the leader of the greeting party would invite them to rest and take nourishment with respect for the customs of the land. This protocol is still practiced during the annual intertribal canoe journey, which occurs every summer, drawing participants from tribes throughout Washington and British Columbia. Canoe landings are open to the public, and everyone is invited.
In addition to the time-honored traditions celebrated by tribes, new traditions are also observed. Beaches serve as venues for live music, kite festivals, sandcastle-building contests, clambakes, company picnics, weddings, polar bear plunges, and all sorts of other delightful occasions. Many of the beaches described in this book feature facilities that support an array of events. A handy index at the back of the book groups beaches by their features and activities.
How the Book Works
In the following pages you’ll get a snapshot of the best beaches in Oregon and Washington. Beaches are grouped by region and run from north to south (except on the Olympic Peninsula). Each regional section includes an introduction that briefly describes history, points of interest, and common traits connecting a region’s beaches. Individual beach descriptions highlight “know-how,” so you can feel like a savvy local.
While this is not an exhaustive guide, you’ll find helpful information such as laws and safety guidelines, as well as some fascinating history and fun facts. Ever wonder about the best places to launch a kayak, harvest clams, or gather beach glass? This book has recommendations for all that and more. Read on, and I’ll even tell you where to hear the orcas sing.