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The Best Pacific Northwest Beaches

Thanks to endless miles of protected coastline, the beaches in the Pacific Northwest are some of the most breathtaking in the U.S.

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Photo: rickberk

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Oregon’s 363 miles of coastline offers plenty of contenders for best beach. However, Cannon Beach, famous for its 235-foot Haystack Rock, often tops lists for the area’s sheer beauty. Plus, Haystack is one of the best places in the Pacific Northwest for viewing Tufted Puffins in the spring and early summer. Since Cannon Beach is also near Ecola State Park, leave time for hiking trails and whale watching.

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Photo: tonda

Olympic National Park, Washington

You really can’t go wrong with any of the protected beaches in Olympic National Park, about a two-hour drive from Seattle. It’s worth the trek to Shi Shi Beach, an untouched paradise famous for its Point of Arches sea stack. It’s also popular for camping. Ruby Beach is equally breathtaking and a shorter walk, but just know it’s a rocky shoreline. Rialto Beach is the easiest to reach, and you can even walk to the Hole-in-the-Wall rock arch during low tide. Whichever you choose, you’re likely to encounter sand dollars, driftwood and anemones; if you’re lucky, you might even spot eagles, whales, dolphins and more.

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Photo: modrocker

Manzanita Beach, Oregon

Head 20 minutes south of Cannon Beach and you’ll hit Manzanita Beach, a great alternative if the former is too crowded (and even if it isn't). Hike the trails of Neahkahnie Mountain to get a sweeping view of the seven-mile stretch, whose soft sands are also perfect for strolling barefoot. Come back at night to watch the sunset and enjoy s’mores around a bonfire.

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Photo: Omegaforest

Long Beach Peninsula, Washington

Almost 30 miles of wide white sand awaits just across from the Oregon border. Dangerous rip tides make this beach unsafe for swimming, but there are plenty of diversions. I mean, how many places offer a World Kite Museum? Plus, it goes without saying that kite lovers should plan on attending the International Kite Festival, a week-long fest and competition held every August. Meanwhile, runners and cyclists will love the 8.5-mile trail through sand dunes, while horseback-riding enthusiasts will find this is one of your best bets in the state for that bucket list beach ride.

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