The Pacific Northwest is one of American surfing's last frontiers. Included in the region is Wasington state.
Perhaps known better for the Seattle Seahawks and producing the grunge era of music in the 1990s, Washington actually has plenty of empty cold waves that are solid for a beginner or seasoned pro.
With 157 miles of coastline, Washington can be a surfers chilly paradise in the right conditions.
However, don’t expect to have an easy time out in Washington waters.
The ocean here is unforgiving. Nasty rip currents, howling winds, great white sharks, and year round cold water temperatures are just a few of the hazards a surfer will face when surfing Washington’s powerful waves.
So if you’re a local or planning a surf trip in the PNW, we’ll give you a rundown of what to expect when surfing America’s northwestern corner.
What’s So Special About Surfing in Washington?
Waves in Washington
The waves in Washington are similar to most of the Pacific Northwest in being very hazardous.
Water temperatures average around the 50s year round and occasionally dip into the 40s during frigid winter months.
Winter is probably the hardest time of year to surf in Washington due to the gale force winds and chilly temperatures.
It's also a hotspot for storms during this time of year.
Fall is the best time of year, providing surfers with northwestern swells and offshore winds while water temperatures are still bearable.
There are a variety of beach and reef breaks along the coast and they usually offer something for everyone.
The Surf Culture in Washington
There aren’t many surfers who dare jump into the freezing cold waters so most spots that you end up surfing will be relatively empty.
That’s not to say the best spots don’t have localism. They do.
Spots like Westport have experienced heavy localism in the past. However, there are still plenty of spots where the localism is down to a minimum.
Washington has several beach towns along its coast with friendly surf shops and surf shop owners.
Look to those local surf shops for instruction on where to surf at that particular town and for board and wetsuit rentals if needed.
Equipment Needed to Surf in Washington
Again, water temperatures in Washington are freezing.
Expect the worst.
During the summer a 4/3 should work just fine in the evergreen state.
However when water temperatures start dipping below the 50s it's best to have a hooded 5/4 or 6/5 wetsuit.
On top of that booties and gloves are a must when it gets really cold.
Also maybe a heater in your car to thaw yourself off after a long winter session.
The 5 Best Surf Spots in Washington
Westport is a stretch of beach in central Washington that encompasses quite a few breaks in its quiet fishing town.
There are three breaks at Westport, one being The Jetty.
The Jetty at Westport is a sandbar that is great for surfers of all abilities.
Then there is Groins which is reserved for the experienced surfer. It has pretty nasty rip currents so be prepared to paddle.
Finally at Westport there is the Cove or Half Moon Bay.
The Cove is a tricky and unforgiving sandbar that breaks pretty close to shore.
It is extremely cold and powerful so be prepared for some long uncomfortable hold downs.
The local crew here isn’t too bad, be respectful, analyze the lineup and you should be good to surf Westport.
La Push is an inconsistent beach break within Olympic National Park that is only rideable during summer and early fall. Like most of the Pacific Northwest’s waves, La Push is really cold and really heavy when it gets big. So naturally this wave shouldn’t be surfed by beginners. Summers here can get crowded when the water temperatures are a little warmer. Waves in the summer are also far mellower compared to winter. Since this beach break is located in National Park you can throw localism out the window. This beach is extremely popular and many people come down here during the summer to score some sun and waves.
Seabrook is a quaint Pacific Northwestern beach town with a long stretch of beach in central Washington.
Seabrook consists of multiple peaks along its sandbar.
Further outside are better waves for more experienced surfers but inside is perfect for people learning to surf.
Summer and early morning winters are when the conditions are best for this wave.
The waves here aren’t great but they’re relatively consistent and for the most part offer something for everyone.
There isn’t much localism here and the town is extremely welcoming.
The town is a great spot for a surf getaway and has plenty of rentals close to the beach.
Don’t be fooled by the name Cape Disappointment is home to the famous Waikiki Beach. Yes you read that correctly, there is a beach in Cape Disappointment State Park that surfers refer to as Waikiki Beach.
This beach break is known for getting really big and having some beautiful ocean views.
The winter is the best time of year for Cape Disappointment.
Since it’s located in a state park the localism is kept down to a minimum.
Similarly to the rest of the evergreen states waves, it's extremely powerful and really cold.
So be prepared with a thick wetsuit and maybe some advil to relieve that ice cream headache.
Another beach town in central Washington, Ocean Shore consists of two main breaks along its beach. The first being the North Jetty.
This spot breaks against a jetty and is capable of holding waves with some size. It's pretty consistent and will give you something to surf year round.
Then the other break is Damon Point which is pretty consistent and is also capable of holding some size.
Damon Point is a great spot for beginners or small wave riders when it is small but during the winter it should only be surfed by the experienced Washington surfer.
Ocean Shores is light on localism, like always just be respectful and don’t paddle straight out to the peak.
What To Do In Washington When the Waves Are Flat
When the waves aren’t perfect along Washington’s coastline, which is frequently, then the state offers plenty to do outside of surfing.
There are plenty of great places to check out Wahingstons picturesque coastline.
One of those places being Olympic National Park. here you can hike and soak in some beautiful ocean views.
Then of course, you could check out Seattle, Washington’s main urban city. Here you can go to the top of the space needle or visit Pikes Place Market.
Another national park worth checking out is Mount Rainier, which offers beautiful mountain views and quite a few hikes to go on as well.
Surfing in Washington
Washington isn’t known for its amazing surf but regardless, there are waves to be had.
Conditions can often be challenging but there are quite a few surfers who have the guts to take on its mighty waves.
Hopefully you’ve gotten an idea of Washington state’s surfing world.