hidden coast leadbetter
Image: Daniel Root

Leadbetter Point State Park on the Long Island Beach Peninsula.

1. Leadbetter Point State Park

The Long Beach Peninsula—that finger of land separating the Pacific Ocean from Washington’s Willapa Bay—eventually narrows at its northernmost tip to a fleeting strip of sand that shape-shifts according to the vagaries of wind and wave and tide. Standing way out here, salty air whipping about your face, you’ll witness a seamless mingling of land and sea, a place in such constant flux that it seems as if the earth itself is being endlessly reborn. Few, however, ever exert the effort required to see it. Cars are banned from Leadbetter Point State Park and Willapa National Wildlife Refuge—the two parks that protect this area’s wind-rippled dunes and forests of alder, spruce, and pine. Which means that in order to reach the peninsula’s ever-changing end, you’ll first have to hike Leadbetter’s easy 1.3-mile Blue Trail to the Pacific and then continue north along the shore for 3.5 miles (past prime habitat for the endangered snowy plover). Only then will you be delivered to the loneliest place in Washington, where you’ll experience the restorative Zen of total isolation. From Oysterville Road, drive three miles north of Oysterville on Stackpole Road and park in the Leadbetter Point parking area; 360-902-8844; www.parks.wa.gov

 

hidden coast jimella
Image: Daniel Root

Jimella Lucas owns Jimella’s Seafood Market and Community Store in Klipsan Beach, Washington.

2. Jimella’s Seafood Market & Community Store

Even when the ocean is within earshot, a good fishmonger is a pleasure to find—which is why, on your way back from Leadbetter, you should stop at Jimella’s Seafood Market & Community Store in the village of Klipsan Beach. True, the seafood case is scarcely bigger than the fridge in your kitchen. But what it contains is the best local fin and shellfish on the peninsula—and, we’d be willing to wager, in all of southern Washington. The reason for such perfect bounty? Owner Jimella Lucas is the former chef and owner of the Ark seafood restaurant in nearby Nahcotta; as such, she’s been buying fresh catch in the area for over 25 years. Most likely, she knows the person who caught your dinner by first name, as well as where he’s been fishing and whether or not he runs a tight ship. Closed Mon; 21712 Pacific Way, Klipsan Beach, Wash.; 360-665-4847

3. Audubon Cottage

With a broad bank of windows facing both south and east across the Columbia River, this cozy double-decker cottage hides one of the only beds on the coast where you can wake to the rosy sun rising just above your toes. The architects of the Audubon Cottage—opened two years ago by the owners of the adjacent China Beach Retreat—obviously spent a lot of time figuring out how to get you closer to nature both inside the cottage (one bathroom door was hewn from a 1,000-year-old redwood log that washed up onshore) and outside of it (an outdoor soaking tub places you at eye level with the tips of swaying sea grass). It’s the perfect getaway for couples seeking a soul-healing retreat of absolute stillness, interrupted only by the splash of bird wings lighting upon the water. From $295; 222 Robert Gray Dr, Ilwaco, Wash.; 360-642-5660