Winter on the rugged coastline of the Pacific Northwest can be cold and stormy, but for some folks, that’s the whole point. They call it “storm-watching season,” after all. The large, powerful maelstroms can bring sheets of rain, gusts of wind, and giant waves that sweep in from the North Pacific, creating a dramatic visual display along its cliffs and windswept beaches. Full of drama and excitement, watching a winter storm smash into the coastline is something special to behold. And, when it comes to combining cozy storm watching with winter coastal adventures like beach combing, clam digging, surfing, and fishing, there’s no better place than Seabrook, Washington.
How to Seek Adventure in Seabrook, Washington, This Winter
Evenings perched comfortably inside a warm beach cottage next to a crackling fire with a hot toddy in hand are largely therapeutic. But for a certain breed of human, storms aren’t just for watching. The tidal surges and windblown currents often wash up the best beachcombing treasures. Heavy rain fills coastal streams and creeks with prized ocean-run steelhead to catch. And, of course, mammoth waves are stellar for winter surfing. Once the storm pushes inland and the wind turns offshore, it smoothes the surface of the water and grooms those incoming waves to perfection. The king tides (extremely high and low tides) of winter are also the perfect time for razor clam digging. These meaty shellfish are the perfect addition to that seafood chowder bubbling on the stove.
Just under three hours from Seattle, Seabrook is a small beach town located on the Washington coast. The town provides a perfect launch pad to visit Olympic National Park, Lake Quinault, and some of the most beautiful beaches on the Washington coast. Seabrook has that perfect appeal of natural splendor and more cosmopolitan comforts including restaurants, wine bars, even an indoor pool and swimming complex.
Where to stay and eat in Seabrook, Washington
The town of Seabrook, founded in 2004 by Casey and Laura Roloff, is a quaint and incredibly walkable beach town. Here, rental homes and full-time residences blend seamlessly together. It features independently owned and operated shops like Magnolia’s Clothing Boutique for chic costal attire; The Salty Dog for all your four-legged friend’s needs; and Red Cedar Surf Co., a great local surf shop. Eateries like The Rising Tide Tavern is the choice for great pub-style fare and comfort food, while Frontager’s Pizza Company has delicious brick-oven pies. Stop by Koko’s Restaurant and Tequila Bar for modern Latin cuisine and a huge selection of tequilas and mezcals.
When it comes to picking a place to stay, the best thing to do in Seabrook is rent one of the full service beachfront homes, which range from cozy three-bedroom cottages like A Wave From It All to large seven bedroom compounds perfect for family gatherings like Oceanaire.
Some other highlights happening in Seabrook include The Market, a new 11,000-square-foot grocery store, along with a new heated outdoor pool and full gym and a 1980’s era arcade—all slated to be completed by spring 2023.
Outdoor Adventures in Seabrook
Beach combing for glass floats
A little known but favorite Pacific Northwest winter beach activity is searching for—and finding—Japanese glass fishing floats. The earliest evidence of glass floats in use by fishermen comes from Norway in 1844. The floats remaining in the ocean are stuck in a circular pattern of ocean currents in the North Pacific. When the large winter storms churn up the ocean these floats will sometimes still end up on the wide, windswept beaches of Washington’s coastline. Glass floats are a collector’s item and major beach-comber’s score. After all, it’s estimated that most float on the water for 7-10 years before washing ashore. Brave explorers (locals and visitors alike) watch the tide and weather patterns closely and take to the beach just after high tide during a storm. This is true even if it means getting out there in the middle of the night.
Razor clam digging
Fall and winter in Washington State kicks off one of the most unique and popular activities you’ll find—razor clam digging! People come from across the state and country for the opportunity to harvest fresh clams right off the beach. If you’ve never been razor zlam digging before have no fear, Buck’s Northwest, located in the center of Seabrook, offers guided digs. The store also has everything you’ll need to get started on your own without a guide. The season runs through early 2023.
The Washington State coastline is the third longest in the U.S.. You can find great surfing conditions and waves for all levels of experience. Guests can rent booties, gloves, and dry suits or wetsuits from Buck’s Northwest, along with rental surfboards and lessons.
Wintertime on the Washington coast brings steelhead fishing you can’t find anywhere else. Seabrook is just a short drive away from popular steelhead river fishing sites, December through March. These sites inclide the Wynooshee, Lower Quinault, Hoh and Queets rivers, all within a 1-2-hour drive from Seabrook. Seabrook’s town and adventure concierge services can help guests plan a guided fishing trip with professional and licensed Washington State fishing guides.
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