The late season sun as we head into fall has brought many surfers, beach walkers and those looking for a one-day vacay to Westport, located in Grays Harbor County. The Pacific Northwest is a gateway to experience the beauty of the outdoors and riding waves offers a full immersion experience into the elements. Westport is a year-round surfing destination for both beginners and advanced wave riders. Every skill level has an opportunity to play as the white water and sandy ocean floor provide beginners with a gentle welcome to the sport of surfing. For those more advanced, the fall and winter bring larger waves, up to 15-foot swells. Visitors from all over the world are drawn here to experience the ocean beaches and to surf the long stretch of waves. With three main surf breaks and easy access to participate, anyone who has an interest in discovering the joys of being in the water will feel welcome.
Olympia resident Christopher moved here from the East Coast in 2017 and has been commuting to Westport up to five times a week throughout the year since his arrival. He explained, “A good day is any day you are enjoying the water. Whether the waves are big or small, if your heart is with the ocean, you will find what you are seeking.” Christopher continued, “I enjoy feeling out the local vibe, supporting the small businesses and keeping the place looking beautiful by respecting the land and ocean. I truly enjoy the peacefulness I feel from entering the water, walking the beach, taking in a sunset or just feeling the salty air.”
Planning A Surfing Trip To Westport
The drive to Westport from Chehalis or Centralia is just over an hour and a half. If you want a quiet place to stay, there are fantastic places to RV camp or pitch a tent on the way to the coast. The town of Westport offers many local surf shops for lessons and rentals. Gear including boards and wetsuits are readily available upon arrival. Rough Bar Surf Shack opened its doors in 2021 by second-generation surfer Mark Lewis, whose dad had him in the water by the age of five. He has welcomed many visiting tourists from all over the country and is impressed by how many beginners are showing up to take lessons. “Those new to the area are welcome to stop by for some safety tips before paddling out. Safety is a priority when surfing a new location so understanding the rip currents and what to look for is good practice”, advised Mark. Even an experienced surfer may choose to take a lesson so that they can have some one-on-one time with a local who can show them the ropes. Rental options include stand-up paddle boards, surfboards, bodyboards and wetsuits including gear for youth.
Mark shared that he finds his peace living, working, surfing and raising his family in Westport by the ocean. “Surf the way you feel. You’re not competing with anyone but getting the opportunity to be present and relaxed, experiencing each new and unique wave as it arrives. It’s an excellent way to stay active and keep connected to nature. A great sport for the mind and the body”. Westhaven State Park offers parking and access to the beach with ADA restrooms, showers and picnic areas (Discover Pass Required). There is a visitors board with helpful information including rip currents and surf etiquette. For those who prefer to watch the waves from the shore, there are plenty of activities to enjoy including kite flying, shell collecting, making a driftwood fort or simply relaxing with a picnic.
Safety Consideration And Resources For Surfing Westport
The ocean is a wild and unpredictable environment. Before entering the water, take the time to observe the waves and check for signs of riptides while watching the lineup of local surfers. It is recommended to stay 50 yards south of the jetty as there are significant rip currents present. It’s best to surf the incoming tide so use one of the informational apps listed below for surf reports, weather conditions and tide charts. As a beginner, it’s best to take a lesson to learn the terrain and understand surfing etiquette, which helps to keep everyone safe. Visit the Experience Westport surfing page for multiple surfing location options as well as a list of local businesses for lodging and food accommodations. Check the tides and weather before heading out. For those visiting from out of state, the pacific northwest coastal waters are chilly so wear a wetsuit.
Helpful apps and websites include:
- NOAA.gov: For the latest weather conditions/tides and coastal warnings
- Surfline App: A mobile app and website for wave forecasting and surf reports
- Tide Charts: A mobile app to view tides and weather
- Magic Seaweed: A mobile app for long-range surf forecasts, waves, wind and swell
- Google Map/Directions for Westhaven State Park