When people think of learning to surf, they often assume they’ll have to travel to California or Hawaii. While those places are great surf destinations, many overlook the great surfing opportunities in our own backyard.
In fact, in many ways, surfing in Washington is easier than those stereotypical destinations because, while the state still has beautiful beaches and perfect beginner waves, it lacks the crowds and high-pressure scenes those areas are prone to. You’ll love taking a Seattle road trip to one of these spots to get your surf on!
So skip the crowds, swing by the local surf shop, figure out your surfboard rentals, and head to one of these awesome beginner-friendly places to surf in Washington.
Washington Surfing Tips
While you can’t go surfing in Seattle, as the waves aren’t nearly big enough, there are plenty of places to go surfing in Washington state. You’ll have to head out to the west part of the state to take advantage of the waves coming in from the Pacific Ocean.
Before you go on a Washington surf trip, make sure you take these tips into consideration:
- Check the weather first – The weather in Washington isn’t always the greatest during certain times of the year. You’ll want to make sure there aren’t any storms on the way, especially if you’re inexperienced.
- Take lessons – Unless you’re an experienced surfer, I recommend taking lessons at a local shop. Surfing on the Washington coast is different than surfing waves in other parts of the world. You’ll want to make sure you’re safe and know what you’re doing.
- Bring your gear – While you can rent surfboards and wet suits from surf shops in the area, you should bring gear such as a swimsuit, GoPro, a waterproof dry bag for your items, and sunscreen regardless of the weather.
Where to Go Surfing in Washington
Here are some of the best spots to go surfing in Washington.
Ocean Shores Surfing Spots
This area is a beginner-friendly surf area and just a bit further than Westport. There are many things to do in Ocean Shores so you can bring your non-surfer friends who will still be entertained. Ocean Shores has two main surf spots, Damon Point, and the Jetty. Of these two, beginners should definitely head to the Jetty.
The Jetty isn’t the most consistent spot on this list; conditions have to line up to get a great beginner to intermediate surfing here, but when they do, it’s awesome (similar to the waves you’ll see on a day trip to Big Sur).
Combine a southwest swell with easterly winds at the Jetty, and clean small-to-medium-sized waves just seem to stack up. Get your fill at the Jetty, and then more experienced surfers might opt to surf Damon Point.
Damon Point is a more challenging and dangerous spot for surfing in Washington, but daring surfers will be repaid with big, fast, steep waves. Damon Point is also a little more consistent than the Jetty, but the size and steepness of its waves make it much more challenging for beginners.
Keep an eye on the forecast when you’re surfing in Ocean Shores for any time swells are over five feet. During storm swells, experienced surfers flock to try their mettle at Damon Point. Just be careful, as both Damon Point and the Jetty have strong rip tides.
This is a great area to book a summer vacation, as you can extend your trip by visiting Long Beach as well.
Where to Stay in Ocean Shores
- Ocean Shores Inn & Suites – If you’re looking for an affordable Ocean Shores accommodation that’s close to the water, this is a good option. You’ll have a full kitchen if you want to save money and cook meals as well as an outdoor pool to enjoy. (rates start at $85 per night; book your room on Booking.com or Hotels.com)
- The Polynesian Resort – This accommodation in Ocean Shores has rooms with views of the beach, a bar, and allows pets. (rates start at $109 per night; book your room on Booking.com or Hotels.com)
Westport Surfing Spots
Westport is the closest beginner surf spot if you want to take a long Seattle day trip, and it’s also one of the most consistent breaks on the Washington coast — thanks to the Army Corps of Engineers who built two long rock jetties, one on each side of the entrance to Gray’s Harbour.
Powerful swells build in the North Pacific, and when they hit the coast these jetties channel them into consistent waves. This makes Westport one of the best places for surfing in Washington.
There are three main surf spots in Westport: the South Jetty (aka “The Jetty”), Half Moon Bay, and Pacific Beach. The South Jetty is the best place for beginners to start out.
There are consistently decent waves here and when conditions line up there can be some truly excellent, world-class surfing here. You’ll love your Westport surfing experience.
On the other side of “The Jetty” is Half Moon Bay. This is another popular place for surfing in Westport.
The waves here are a little less consistent, but still a good area for beginners for those who want to surf in Washington. While its waves aren’t as consistent on off days as those at South Jetty, when it’s good here, it’s really good.
Finally, more experienced surfers can head north to Pacific Beach for an exciting Westport surfing experience. Pacific Beach has much bigger waves, but the rides aren’t as long, and it’s often windy.
The wind makes for choppy and inconsistent waves that will be very challenging for beginners. However, once you’ve got everything figured out, Pacific Beach can be a great place to go hone your skills on bigger waves. This area is also perfect if you’re looking to book a kid-friendly Pacific Northwest vacation at the same time.
If you’re looking to venture out for surfing in Westport, we always recommend checking the Westport surf report first!
Where to Stay in Westport
- LOGE Westport – For extended stays, we recommend checking out the hip and recently renovated LOGE at Westport, where you can choose to camp, book a hotel room, or utilize their clean and comfortable hostel lodging. (rates start at $94 per night; book your room on Booking.com or Hotels.com)
- The Westport Inn – This Westport accommodation has free parking, is dog-friendly, and even a fitness center. (rates start at $118 per night; book your room on Booking.com or Hotels.com)
La Push Surfing Spots
La Push might not be as close to Seattle, or quite as consistent as Westport, but it’s still a great place to learn to surf in Washington. The name “La Push” comes from the pile of sand and gravel that the Quillayute River has piled up in the cove.
This cove, combined with James Island that sits on the north end of it, makes for fun predictable waves when surfing in La Push. Despite its relatively small area, La Push gets a huge variety of waves as the river current, island, storms, tides, and seasons all work together.
At mid-tide, look for fun beach break near the river mouth. As fall turns into winter, migrate to the Northside of the river’s mouth for La Push surfing.
North of the northern riverbank, as tides get higher, they create some clean winter barrels in the beach break that are worth chasing when you surf in Washington.
When you need a break from surfing, you can take a day trip to Olympic National Park to explore the rainforest or go hiking.
Where to Stay in La Push
- Cottage in Forks – This cabin sleeps up to four guests, is pet-friendly, and is three miles from Rialto Beach. (rates start at $217 per night)
Crescent Beach Surfing Spots
Finally, the last surf spot on our list is Crescent Beach. Crescent Beach is a phenomenal place to surf in Washington for beginners and intermediates. It’s also the only private, paid beach on this list.
However, the fee is reasonable, and it’s completely worth it given the convenience of parking, access to a hot shower, and the quality of waves Crescent offers.
Crescent Beach surfing is best during the west or northwest swells. When these conditions line up with south to southwest offshore winds, Crescent provides fun, consistent, and very clean waves. Just beware, during big storm swells, Crescent can get scary with some large closeouts.
If you want to go surfing in Washington or even just venture to the coast to play in the waves, remember that the state is home to some of the best beginner surf spots in the world. Rent a board, take some lessons, and experience firsthand why the Pacific Northwest is one of the top places for cold water surfers!
Where to Stay in Crescent Beach
- Beach Cabin Getaway – This cozy cabin sleeps up to four people and has beautiful views of the water. You’ll love relaxing here after a day of surfing in Crescent Beach. (rates start at $200 per night)
- Lake Crescent Cabin – This beautiful cabin is right on Lake Crescent and has free Wi-Fi, a shared dock, and a fully equipped kitchen. (rates start at $183 per night)
Now the question is where to pick to go surfing in Washington for your trip!