Neah Bay is a small town on the northwest side of Washington state's Olympic Peninsula. It's the northwestern most town of the contiguous United States, with its coast facing north towards Canada's Vancouver Island. The whole town and its surrounding areas are part of the Makah Indian Reservation.
Located on Admiralty Inlet, north of Olympic National Park and close to Cape Flattery which is the northwestern most point of the contiguous United States.
The Makah (pron.: /məˈkɑː/, from the Klallam name for the tribe, màq̓áʔa) are a Native American tribe that lives in and around the town of Neah Bay, Washington, a small fishing village along the Strait of Juan de Fuca where it meets the Pacific Ocean. Their reservation on the northwest tip of the Olympic Peninsula includes Tatoosh Island. The Makah people refer to themselves as "Kwih-dich-chuh-ahtx" (Qʷidiččaʔa·tx̌) which translates as "the people who live by the rocks and seagulls".
The cities of Clallam Bay, Sekiu are located within half an hour from Neah Bay along Highway 112 and altogether have a combined population of only about 800 people. Due to the minimum population & attractions for each cities, this travel guide covers all three areas.
A Makah Reservation Recreational Permit is required for every vehicle visiting Neah Bay. It can be purchased for $10 at the marina, the museum & cultural center, Makah Mini Mart, Washburn's General Store, and the Hobuck Beach Resort, and is valid for one calendar year.
The intersection of Highway 113 and US-Highway 101 is 44mi/70km west of Port Angeles and 12.3mi/19km north of Forks in Sappho. From the intersection it is another 37mi/59km to Neah Bay. Hwy 113 becomes Hwy 112 when the road turns westwards in Clallam Bay town/village and ends in Neah Bay.
Neah Bay is served by Clallam Transit Rt#16 from Forks via Sappho and Sekieu. From Port Angeles take the #14 Clallam Transit bus towards Forks and get off at Sappho (there is a gravel parking lot before the intersection with Hwy 113). Transfer to the #16 bus coming from Forks to get to Neah Bay. See schedules.
You can request for moorage at the Makah Marina which is right at the city center.
Every attraction within the city proper can be reached on foot. You have to drive a car, however, to get to other attractions, especially Cape Flattery.
- 1 Cape Flattery (Take the Cape Flattery Rd all the way to the end and then walk a trail). The last frontier of the mainland USA where you can see both Canada and the Pacific Ocean. Has a lookout point that overlooks the rocky coast and Tatoosh Island lighthouse in the distance.
- 2 Makah Museum, Cultural & Research Center, 1880 Bayview Ave, ☏ . Daily 10AM-5PM. A visit to an Indian Reservation area would not be complete without learning about the local culture, with exhibits featuring the rich history of the first settlers of the area and how they cope with nature. $5 adult, $4 students.
- 3 Makah National Fish Hatchery, 897 Fish Hatchery Rd, Clallam Bay, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M-Fri 8AM-4PM. Get to know about the Pacific Northwest's love for salmon in this hatchery. Different species and life cycles of salmon can be seen on different times of the year. Free.
- Fort Núñez Gaona, 185 Bayview Ave. A small monument where the first white settlement in Washington state used to be in 1792, though it settles there for only 4 months. A monument with an interpretive panel can be studied by visitors.
- 1 Big Salmon Resort, 1251 Bayview Ave, ☏ . A tackle shop that also provides boat rentals or charters for saltwater fishing and other boating necessities if you have your yacht parked at a nearby marina.
- 2 Shi Shi Beach, Shi Shi Beach Rd, Clallam Bay (From Makah Passage, take the right branch that has a sign to the fish hatchery to the trailhead.). Deep inside the Makah Reservation is perhaps one of the few beaches in the peninsula that is flat with sand, with vistas and rocks in its background. Tourists (with reservations) camp here in the summer. Overnight private cars must be parked at a private home a half a mile back for $10/night by cash.
There are no ATM branches from big banks in the area, though small ATMs that spits out only a handful of cash may be found at fuel stations. A few major establishments accept cards but you are advised to bring at least a stash of cash.
- Washburn General Store, 1450 Bayview Ave, ☏ . M-F 9AM-7PM, Sa-Su 9AM-6PM. Groceries and deli, hardware and most of the things you may need for some last-minute necessities.
- Makah Mini-Mart, 931 Bayview Ave, ☏ . Gas 24 hours. This is where you can fill up your gas tank and also get some refreshments in a 7-11 like mini mart.
Arts and crafts can be bought at the museum shop.
- 1 Linda's Woodfired Kitchen, 1110 Bayview Ave, Neah Bay, ☏ . Tu-Su 12PM-7PM. A pizza place, but more memorable for its wood-fired oven baked salmon with potatoes and vegetables. It also houses a 2-room motel in the back.
- 2 Pat's Place, 1111 Bayview Ave, Neah Bay. Tu, Wed, F Noon-6PM; Th, Sa Noon-5:30PM. Anyone visiting this restaurant comes back for its Indian frybread tacos.
- 3 Take Home Fish Co., 898 Woodland Ave, Neah Bay (Look for a small blue and green shack), ☏ . A seemingly off-the-beaten-path shack, but don't let that deter you from coming in to smell and savor the smoked fishes sold by the pound; the type of fish varies by season but usually salmon is available.
- 4 The Warm House, 1471 Bay View Ave, Neah Bay, ☏ . Su-Th 7AM-7PM, F-Sa 7AM-8PM. A more upscale option in town. Sandwiches and seafood for lunch & dinner that's on the heartier side.
- 5 By the Bay Cafe, 343 Front St, Sekiu, ☏ . M-Th 8AM-8PM, F 8AM-9PM, Sa 7AM-9PM, Su 7AM-8PM. The only place to eat in this tiny town. Look for the jogging fish statue. Typical American cafe plus sandwiches, fish and chips and seafood.
- 6 Breakwater Inn, 15582 WA-112, ☏ . Su-Th 7AM-9PM, F-Sa 7AM-10PM. Classic diner and local fares, midway between Clallam Bay and Sekiu.
You won't find alcohol in the town as it is forbidden in the Makah Indian Reservation Area. The above restaurants in Sekiu and Clallam Bay also serves alcohol.
Places to sleep mostly consist of motels and small houses that are scattered throughout the area. You can choose a city-center location or secluded with a beach. You are in luck if you want to enjoy the great outdoors, as many sites offer camping and RV hookups.
- Bullman Beach Inn, 1663 WA-112, ☏ . 4 rooms in a house, each accommodating 2 guest. Rooms are complete with kitchen. Directly behind the beach. Closed November-April. From $100 per night.
- 1 Butler's Motel, 910 Woodland Ave, Neah Bay, ☏ . A quaint 9-room motel at the city center. Call for price quote..
- 2 Cape Resort, 1510 Bayview Ave, Neah Bay, ☏ . A place of stay adjacent to the beach and in the city. Your choice of sleeping in cabins, bunkhouses, or tent. Or just park your RV and stay in. Cabins $95/night off-season,$115/night summer; bunkhouses $50 per night for two & $5 per additional person; tent $25 for duration of stay; RV $40/night with hookup, $25/night without hookup.
- 3 Hobuck Beach Resort, 2726 Makah Passage, Neah Bay, ☏ . Another beach resort, but in a more quiet area of the reservation. More cabins and space for tents and RVs. Cabins from $150/night April-September, $110/night October-March; RV $40/night; campground $35/night.
- The Inn at Neah Bay, 1562 WA-112, ☏ . 4 room options that can cater from couples to families. 4 miles from Neah Bay Oct-Mar from $88/night, Apr-Sep from $120/night.
- Snow Creek Resort, 691 Highway 112, ☏ . Basic cabins and RV hookups. More focus on fishing at the namesake creek.
Alcohol and marijuana are prohibited in the Makah Indian Reservation area, despite it being located in Washington state where both are legal for ages 21 and above. Please do not attempt to or inadvertently bring them into the area to avoid any further hassle.
Certain species of dogs are also prohibited from roaming the reservation area and all canines are not allowed on Shi-Shi Beach as it's part of the Olympic National Park.
If you are traveling in the wintertime, you are advised to check the weather forecast as it is frequently rainy and sometimes stormy. High winds can cause power outages and rain can cause mudslides. Check with your resort regarding travel advisories before you get there.
Mobile connection can be spotty and so far, only Verizon phones can receive signal well in this "remote" part of the USA. Be aware that when you use your phone along the highway, it can sometimes switch to a Canadian cellular network without you knowing it. Turn off the international roaming to avoid paying a high roaming fare.
It is advisable to bring a physical map in addition to the map on your smartphone, especially if you are venturing out further into the Indian Reservation where you may have little luck in finding a signal.
Wireless Internet is usually available at hotels and selected restaurants.
As Neah Bay is the last frontier of western Washington, there's no other way but to get back to land and explore the rest of the Olympic Peninsula.
- Olympic National Park is the main attraction of the peninsula.
- The largest city in the peninsula, Port Angeles can be reached by taking a left on the US-101 intersection.
- Forks is straight at the same junction.
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