I was first introduced to Freshwater Bay in my early kayak days via the WA Kayak Club while on day trips and a few rock gardening classes with Deb Volturno and George Gronseth. From day 1, I knew this was a place I'd be going back to often. Now I lead SUP tours there mostly in summer months.
A 3 hour drive from Seattle and just past Port Angeles, FWB as we call it for short, has good conditions 99% of the time. The boat ramp put-in is in boating terms, a good gunk hole, meaning it's very protected from most wind and swell. A sandy bottom and shallow for some time, makes it a great launch for paddlers. We generally prefer to launch adjacent to the busy boat ramp on the beach.
If a wild weather or mellow day, you can have plenty of fun exploring the interior of the bay by the boat ramp, with it's tide pools and rock formations on the west side of the bay to the erratic boulder right of the boat ramp. You can also head east into FWB and in a few miles you'll hit the Elwha River mouth (watch for surf). In summer there's a one mile long kelp bed in the bay. Usually quiet from other paddlers and don't expect to see anyone on the beach.
For experienced paddlers, take a left at Observatory Point and Bachelor Rock (seastack below) threading yourself through the reef (SUPs-recommend kneeling). Or go round the rock. Swell does get in there and on an ebb the currents can rip strongly around the rock. Follow the coastline for one mile or the 6 miles to Salt Creek Rec Area. Explore the pocket beaches, amazing rock formations, caves, arches and abundant sea life below you. There's a stinky seal rookery about 3 miles west and Hidden Cove, another gunk hole about 2 miles from Salt Creek.
Alternatively, you can launch form Salt Creek, go over or around Tongue Point and start your journey from the west, going east.
Avoid if you can't handle waves, swell, high wind or don't have endurance for strong current. It can be glassy calm or gnarly. The water is cold most of the year do dress for immersion. SUPs, I recommend a rubber fin to avoid getting stuck in the extensive kelp beds and to better explore the rock shoreline. Also a helmet for kayakers, not much fun to capsize in shallow reefs.
The section can be cold too as the sun rarely gets over he big cliffs aside from in summer.
Read more in my book, Trips 40 & 41
Learn more about my book Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juans, 60 Trips. I also offer SUP and Kayak lessons available throughout the year at Salmon Bay Paddle. Questions about paddling on the Salish Sea, give me a holler anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-465-7167
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