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How to Spend 1 Day Visiting Cape Flattery

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Everything You Need to Know about Visiting Cape Flattery

Cape Flattery is one of the best things to do in Olympic National Park and is located at the Northwestern most part of the Olympic Peninsula and the USA. It is about a 2 hour drive one way from Port Angeles or a 1.5 hour drive from Forks but in my opinion, it is totally worth it.

The views of the bright blue ocean from the cliffsides at Cape Flattery are just stunning. There are lots of little trails that you can choose to hike that will take you to different beaches and viewpoints. If I was to compare the views at Cape Flattery to anywhere else, it would be the Oregon coastline with its huge rock formations surrounded by swirling ocean which can be viewed from high above on the cliffs.

1 day should be enough to get the most out of visiting Cape Flattery but if you would prefer to stay 2 days, you could camp at the Village RV or stay at Apocalypto Motel in Neah Bay.

Views of Cape Flattery along the Cape Flattery Trail in WAshington State

One of the must do things in Cape Flattery is the Cape Flattery Trail. More on this later on in this guide.

This 1 Day Cape Flattery Itinerary will provide you with everything you need to spend 1 incredible day exploring the Northwestern most tip of the USA.

Forest Trail along the Cape Flattery TRail

The guide also includes details on what permit you need and where to get it, where to eat near Cape Flattery, the best things to do, where to stay, commonly asked questions and of course a detailed 1 day itinerary.

Quick Tips for Visiting Cape Flattery

Don’t have time to read the entire blog post? Here are some quick links and facts to get you started on planning your trip.

How many days do I need for Cape Flattery? Personally, I think 1 day is the perfect amount of time to see Cape Flattery.

When is the best time of year to visit? You can visit Cape Flattery any time of the year. My favourite time to visit is during Spring when it is a bit less busy but you are more likely to get some sunny days than during the Winter.

Where to Stay Near (not in) Cape Flattery: Camping | Hotel

What else is there to do in Olympic National Park: There is so much to do in Olympic National Park but it will depend on how long you have there. I have written 1 day, 2 day, 4 day and 5 day itineraries to help you plan your trip.

Where to rent a car: You can rent a car from Seattle International Airport. This is our go to for the best rental car deals ➡ Rentalcars.com

Top Olympic National Park Day Tours:

📍 Where is Cape Flattery

Cape Flattery is located on the Northwestern tip of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State USA. The closest small town is ­­­Neah Bay with the closest larger town being Forks which is a 1.5 hour drive away. People come to Neah Bay from all over the world because Cape Flattery is one of the best things to do in Neah Bay.

Girl standing at Cape Flattery viewpoint in Washington State

Click here to open the map in Google Maps!

🎫 Permits for Cape Flattery

When visiting the trails or beaches around Cape Flattery, you will need to purchase a Makah Recreation Permit for $20 per vehicle which will need to be displayed on your dashboard. The permit will then last you for the calendar year. Permits can be obtained in person with cash from:

  • Makah Marina – Open until 5:00 p.m.
  • The Museum at the Makah Culture and Research Center – Open until 5:00 p.m.
  • Pat’s Place
  • Makah Mini Mart – Summer Hours: 7 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.
  • Makah Tribal Center, Financial Services – Open Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.
  • Hobuck Beach Resort
  • The Cape Resort

We had planned on getting our permits from the minimart, however we can across a sign next to an office just before the Mini-mart which sold permits. This office isn’t list on google maps so must be relatively new.

Makah Reservation Permit Tourism Office

🥐 Food near Cape Flattery

When we visited Cape Flattery, we brought our own sandwiches and snacks so that we didn’t need to find food along the way, however there are a few places to eat in Neah Bay if you are not a packed lunch sort of person.

  • Warmhouse Restaurant – American Food
  • Calvin’s Crabhouse – Seafood
  • BIGGINZ Burgers Seafood – delicious fried seafood & burgers
  • Linda’s Woodfired Kitchen – pizza
  • Pat’s Place – American Food

Coffee shops / Cafes

There are also a couple of great coffee shops in Neah Bay:

  • Honey Hollow Coffee Co
  • Native Ground Espresso

🛌 Where to Stay near Cape Flattery

If you want to spend more than 1 day in Cape Flattery, you should stay in Neah Bay. Otherwise, I recommend staying in either Forks or Port Angeles depending on what else you want to do while visiting Olympic National Park.

Neah Bay (15 minute drive to Cape Flattery)

Camping option: The Village RV
Hotel Option: Apocalypto Motel

Forks (1 hour 20 minute drive to Cape Flattery)

Camping option: Forks 101 RV Park
Hotel Option: Hoh Valley Cabins

Port Angeles (2 hour drive to Cape Flattery)

Camping option: Fairholme Campground (Lake Crescent)
Hotel Option: Olympic Lodge by Ayres

📷 Things to do in and around Cape Flattery

This is a list of things to do in and around the Cape Flattery area to use if you would prefer to plan your own trip. Alternatively, I have written a 1 day Cape Flattery Itinerary which you will find below the list of things to do.

Soak up the views along the Cape Flattery Trail

Distance: 1.1 miles / 1.9km | Elevation Gain: 229 ft / 70m | Time: 40 mins -1 hour

The Cape Flattery Trail is the number 1 thing to do in Neah Bay. The trail provides epic coastal views from a number of different viewpoints where you can see some amazing rock formations and the Cape Flattery Lighthouse. You can even see all of the way to Canada across the Juan De Fuca Strait from the last viewpoint at the end of the trial.

Along the way to the Cape Flattery Observation Deck, which is the final viewpoint, you will see views of the ocean from a few different viewing decks. One of them looks over a hole in the wall rock which has been formed by years of erosion.

View from the Cape Flattery Observation Deck of the Cape Flattery Lighthouse

Hike to Shi Shi Beach

Distance: 4 miles / 6.4 km | Elevation Gain: 200 ft / 61m | Time: 2 hours

Shi Shi (pronounced Shy Shy), is a beautiful beach with large rock formations in the ocean close to shore that make great photo opps. To get to the beach you have to hike to along a forest trail which is quite often muddy so I recommend wearing some waterproof shoes.

You can also backpack to Shy Shy Beach and camp overnight. To do this, you will need to obtain a Wilderness Camping Permit from Recreation.gov.

We had planned to visit Shi Shi, however the parking lot was full when we were there so unfortunately we missed out. If you want to hike to Shi Shi Beach, I recommend getting to the parking lot first thing in the morning so that you don’t miss out on a spot.

Visit the Makah Museum

At the Makah Museum, you will find 300-500 year old artifacts recovered from the Ozette Archaeological Site including whaling and fishing gear and canoes! The Ozette Archeological Site is a Makah village which was partly buried by a mudslide 300-500 years ago and discovered in 1970. Absolutely WILD! The admission fee for an adult is $10. You can find more information about the museum here.

Go Beach-hopping

Tsoo-Yess Beach on the Olympic Peninsula near Neah Bay
Sea creature on beach

Cape Flattery is located on a beautiful coastline and there are plenty of long, beautiful beaches to explore. Some of these include:

  • Sooes Beach
  • Tsoo-Yess Beach
  • Hobuck Beach

1 Day Cape Flattery Itinerary

This Cape Flattery Itinerary is perfect if you have a whole day to see this beautiful coastline. This itinerary is very similar to what we did in a day but with a couple of added activities because we had a pretty late start to our day which made us a little short on time. OOPS!

Views of Cape Flattery from Viewpoint

Morning – Shi Shi Beach

Drive to Neah Bay to purchase your Makah Recreation Permit from one of the locations listed in the permit section of this guide.

The driving times to Neah Bay are:

From Port Angeles: 1 hour 40 minutes
From Forks: 1 hour

Once you have picked up your permit, head straight over to Shi Shi Beach parking lot and trailhead. The reason I have put Shi Shi Beach trail first on this itinerary is because the parking lot is tiny and fills up very quickly. We arrived at the parking lot at about 12:30pm and missed out on hiking to Shi Shi Beach because we couldn’t get a parking spot. I hope you have more luck than we did!

The Shi Shi Beach trail is 4 miles / 6.4 km with an elevation Gain of 200 ft / 61m. It will take you around 2 – 3 hours to complete. You can also hike further once you reach Shi Shi Beach all of the way to the Point of Arches, which is a bunch of rocky sea stacks.

There are pit toilets at Shi Shi Beach that you can use.

Midday – Lunch Makah Museum

You could either bring a packed lunch to Shi Shi Beach and eat it at the beach or you could try out one of the restaurants listed in this guide.

Once you are feeling rested and well fed, it’s time to head over to the Makah Museum to learn about the incredible history of the Makah Tribe and the historical Makah Village which has been uncovered after it was buried 300-500 years ago by a mudslide!

Afternoon – Cape Flattery Trail

The Cape Flattery Trail is the most popular thing to do in Cape Flattery because it is the place where you can see the classic “Cape Flattery Views.”

Parking lot for the Cape Flattery Trail
Parking lot for the Cape Flattery Trail
Cape Flattery Trailhead Sign with distances

The parking lot is fairly large although it does get quick busy. There are places to park on the side of the road if you can’t get a spot in the actual parking lot. There are also toilets located in the parking lot near the trailhead.

We found this trail to be very relaxing and peaceful as you walk along a fairly flat trail through the forest.

There were however, quite a lot of people at each viewpoint. It will probably take you around 1 hour to complete the trail with lots of stops at the 4 viewpoints.

The first viewpoint was our favourite and the last one was really cool because you can see all of the way over to Vancouver Island in Canada!

Cape Flattery Views of Ocean
2nd Viewpoint / Hole in the Wall

Commonly Asked Questions

Is Cape Flattery Worth it?

Cape Flattery is beautiful and well worth the visit if you have the time. For Dave and I, Cape Flattery was lower on our list of things to do so we didn’t get around to seeing it until our second trip to Olympic National Park. Reason being is that we are from Australia where pretty much every viewpoint is a coastal one, so for us, things like the Hoh Rainforest, Hurricane Ridge and Mount Storm King were higher on our list than Cape Flattery.

If you love the coast, then you will absolutely love Cape Flattery because it is gorgeous!

Can I bring my dog with me to visit Cape Flattery?

Dogs are allowed on the Cape Flattery Trail and we saw plenty of adorable puppies when we were there. Note that your pup will need to be kept on a leash and stick to the boardwalk or defined trail.

Dogs are not allowed on Shi Shi Beach or trail however.

Can I swim at Cape Flattery?

You cannot get down to the beach from the Cape Flattery trail. It is a long way down. However there are plenty of beaches nearby which you can access such as Shi Shi Beach (hike required), Hobuck Beach and Tsoo–Yess Beach.  

Is there a bus that goes to Cape Flattery?

If you don’t have a car, you can still get to Cape Flattery. You can go via Clallam Transit to Neah Bay from either Forks or Port Angeles. Once you have made it to Neah Bay, there is a bus that can take you to Cape Flattery through Makah Transit which connects with Clallam Transit three times per day from Monday to Friday. Unfortunately, there is no Makah Transit weekend service so this can only be utilized during the week.

💭 Our Thoughts

Cape Flattery is wild and beautiful and worth the day trip if you have the time. We only visited Cape Flattery the second time we visited Olympic National Park because there were other places that we had higher up on our Olympic National Park bucketlist.

If you don’t have a spare day for Cape Flattery, personally I would give it a miss because the drive is too long and windy to try to squish it into one of your other days.

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