Olympic Beaches: Hole in the Wall at Rialto Beach, Second Beach, Third Beach, and Ruby
Olympic Beaches: Hole in the Wall at Rialto Beach, Second Beach, Third Beach, and Ruby

Olympic Beaches: Hole in the Wall at Rialto Beach, Second Beach, Third Beach, and Ruby

United States
United States

When Is the Best Time

You can find some of the most breathtaking beaches in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) in Washington State, and according to Vogue in 2024, Ruby Beach is one of the most beautiful in the US. This is the perfect peninsula to leave your day-to-day world behind. These four beaches and forest trails, which I describe in detail, belong to the coastal part of the Olympic National Park, roughly a four-hour drive west of Seattle.

The vies to Hole in the wall to sea stacks at Rialto Beach
The fantastic Hole in the Wall at the end of Rialto Beach.

These beaches belong to the Olympic National Park for good reason. Either you walk through old-grown rainforests to “Second Beach” and “Third Beach”, or the rainforest leads along the beaches like “Rialto Beach” and “Ruby Beach”.

Second Beach and the prominent sea stack at sunset
Second Beach at sunset.

We had plenty of time for all beaches, but if you are passing by only or you are limited in time, I will give you a quick overview of which beach fits best to you, which is worth visiting and which you can skip depending on your preferences and walking abilities.

The first view down from higher elevation to Third Beach.
Already the first glimpse of Third Beach amazed us.

I took tons of pictures of the highlights for each beach which I added so that you are able to decide which ones you want to explore. Due to the short period of low tide, you are able to visit a maximum of two beaches in one day. 

An American Sea Eagle at one of the Olympic Beaches
The Pacific Northwest is known for Bald Eagles - picture taken at Rialto Beach.

If you have plenty of time, I highly recommend visiting all of them, but if you are limited and visiting the peninsula just for a weekend, I will give you an idea of which beaches fit best to you.

I describe them from the north to the south from Rialto 14 miles west of Forks until Ruby Beach, and I will answer all your questions.

Plenty of driftwood at Third Beach
Here you access Third Beach.

The area around Forks, known from Twilight, is notorious for its foggy and rainy weather. However, rain or shine, these beaches will set you in awe. All of them are beautiful and fantastic for a long walk. Driftwood is spread along the beaches providing neverending photo options. Breathe in the fresh and salty air, and good sleep is guaranteed.

An old growth tree in the Olympic National Park.
The hiking trail through the rainforest to Second Beach.

The best time to visit the Olympic Peninsula and the Olympic Beaches regarding the weather is usually from July to September, the driest months of the year. The entire area experiences more than 98 inches/2,5 m of rain annually, but with climate change, you can no longer count on the occurring statistics. We visited the PNW beaches end of May, usually a rainy month. The advantage was that it wasn’t too busy, and we booked our double room at the Pacific Inn Motel in Forks just a few days before.

Ruby Beach full of drift logs and many visitors.
Ruby Beach

For a quick overview of all beaches and questions, I added a Table of Contents:

Timing is key for most of these beaches because accessibility depends on the tides. Although these beaches are not far apart, the tides vary more than I thought it is possible. Therefore, check out the tides before you venture out to Rialto Beach, Second Beach, and Third Beach. Ruby Beach.is accessible during high and low tide, but you are able to explore the tidepools and far more of the beach at low tide only.

Entrance Fee for Rialto, Second, Third, and Ruby Beach

Second Beach at sunset - a mixture of clouds and orange spots.
Rain or shine, Second Beach is the most picturesque IMO.

No entrance fee is requested, nor is the Olympic National Park pass—Beach Access for free for all mentioned beaches.

Parking Fee

The official Olympic National Park entrance sign.
Although part of the National Park, no park pass is required.

No parking fee for any of these mentioned beaches, which is rare.

How to get to the Olympic Peninsula and National Park?

Detailed Map of Rialto-Second-Third Beach
As you can see in; Rialto, Second, and Third Beach are close to Forks. Map high resolution

It is a four to five hours drive from Seattle via Olympia either counterclockwise on the famous 101 or clockwise on HW 8 and 12, which turns into 101. From Seattle, it is a drive of roughly nine hours to circumnavigate the entire Olympic Peninsula, plus visit all beaches and the breathtaking Hoh Rainforest.

How many days are needed for Olympic, Rialto Beach, Second Beach, Third, and Ruby?

An immense cedar tree in the Olympic National Park
Kalaloch Big Cedar Nature Trail at 101 shortly before Ruby - Google Maps Location

It is quite a drive getting here. You need at least four days to visit the four beaches and the heart of the Olympic National Park, including the Hall of Mosses. National Park Pass required for the Hoh Rainforest!

Branches full of old man's beard lichen in the Hoh Rainforest.
Don't miss out on The Hall of the Mosses Trail - too vast to capture with my camera.

A short loop trail of 0,8 miles/ 1,2 km leads to The Hall of Mosses; old-growth rainforest, a grove of maple trees, lichen, and moss blankets on the shady ground transfer you into a breathtaking and mystic atmosphere. All visitors were in awe of the beauty; everyone was just whispering here. Therefore, I recommend a journey to the peninsula during a long weekend, even better if you have an entire week available.

Can you swim at La Push, Rialto Beach, Second Beach, Third, and Ruby?

The choppy sea at Hole in the Wall
I wouldn't swim at any of these beaches - Rialto Beach and Hole in the Wall.

A very clear no. First of all, it is far too dangerous due to pebbles and drift logs in the sea; secondly, riptides can occur and are dangerous because the water temperature is far too cold at 50-55°F and can cause hypothermia. Sorry, but don’t think about swimming at any of these beaches. There are no lifeguards for a good reason – it is also too risky for them. I wouldn't swim at any of these beaches, although I have completed lifeguard training.

Brief Summary of the 4 Olympic Beach

A tidepool at Rialto Beach
Giant green anemones - the biggest species which we found in a tidepool at Hole in the Wall.
  • Most spectacular beach – Second Beach
  • Most picturesque rock – Hole in the Wall at the end of Rialto Beach
  • Quiet and not a much-known beach – Third Beach plus Strawberry waterfall
  • Most crowded beach – Ruby Beach
  • Best accessible beach during high and low tide – Ruby Beach
  • Most beautiful walk through lush rainforest to reach the beach – Second Beach
  • The Second and Third Beach are only 1.3 miles apart and can be combined in one day. First visit Third and afterwards Second Beach.
  • Due to the location, Ruby Beach can be visited first coming from the south on 101, or it'll be the last on the way back.

Which beach is better, Rialto or Ruby Beach?

Another interesting rock formation and arch at low tide.
Another great spot along Rialto Beach before Hole in the Wall.

Rialto is better if you do not mind walking far, and you are able to get to Hole in the Rock at low tide. Ruby Beach is beautiful but busier, taking down a little of the charm. If you are able to walk through soft sand, I recommend Rialto Beach, but if you are looking for a short and easy trail, choose Ruby Beach.

5 Top Tips and What to Carry in Your Backpack

The Third Beach Trailhead with trash bins and toilets
The Third Beach trailhead and warning sign to the left. Photo high resolution
  1. Do you plan to watch the sunset at one of these beaches? We always carry a Petzl headlamp in the backpack to get back to the car safely. 
  2. Also, a jacket or sweater for the evening must be brought to handle the cool temperature and wind.
  3. Carry plenty of water; there is no cafe or store. We prefer an insulated water bottle to carry hot tea, water or both.
  4. Don’t miss out on my 10 Essentials in my backpack – I never go without them.
  5. Don’t leave any valuables in your vehicle – this warning was shown at all parking lots.

The 4 Olympic Beaches in PNW in Detail

1 Rialto Beach – Hole in the Wall Walk

I hiking through the Hole in the Wall
The Hole in the Wall gives you access to the next beach and tidepools.

Rialto Beach is the one before the first beach in La Push. The beach itself is accessible during high and low tides, but the highlight, the Hole in the Wall, is only around low tide. For this specific spot, check out the tide times and also the height of the low tide. We experienced a negative tide means below sea level, but it can also be above 3 ft during low tide, and you have a much smaller window to get there and safely back. Information board and tide times are displayed at the trailhead.

I walking on rocks at low tide at Rialto
This is all not accessible at high tide.

The best time to visit Rialto Beach and Hole in the Wall is roughly two hours before low tide and one hour after low tide. Also important is the height of the low tide, as mentioned above.

The endless seaming Rialto Beach with driftwood.
Hole in the Wall is situated at the end of the beach at the rock in the distance.
  • Trail length along Rialto Beach to Hole in the Wall and return: 3,4 miles/ 5,5 km.
  • Duration in and out plus time around the Hole in the Wall: 2 ½ - 3 hours
  • Elevation Difference: none – it is a flat walk from the parking along the beach
  • Difficulty: Moderate walk through the soft sand, rocks at Hole in the Wall are slippery from the sea vegetation and algae - proper shoes with traction (these are my beloved INOV) are the best option.
  • Depending on the rainfall before, you must cross an ankle-deep creek. During our visit end of May, the creek was almost not existing.
  • Rating: Rialto Beach is lovely– the “Hole in the Wall” Rock is spectacular around low tide.
  • Tide Times Rialto Beach to Hole in the Wall

How to get to Rialto Beach? 

Detailed map for Rialto Beach
Information board at the trailhead

It is a 20 minutes drive from Forks, where we stayed in the Pacific Inn Motel (more below, plus photos). You need a rental car to get to Rialto Beach. Proper planning is key to getting to Hole in the Wall.

A hiker walking from the parking lot to the trailhead of Rialto
At the end of the parking is the information panel to the left and the toilets right.

Parking: Plenty of Parking; Google Maps Location and facilities, toilet paper and soap where available.

A group of backcountry hikers-campers on the forest trail.
It must be great hiking and camping here in the Olympic for days.

Camping: Backcountry camping is permitted after Ellen Creek until Hole in the Rock but not before.

Summary Rialto Beach

Rialto Beach, sea stacks and Hole in the Wall in the distance.
All rocks are accessible at low tide only - Hole in the Rock to the right in the distance.
  • Pro: Not crowded due to the remote location and the 45 minutes walk to the rock. The tidepools are full of giant green anemones, the biggest anemone of all and ochre sea stars.
  • Con: Rialto Beach is a long, stretched, nice beach, but all others are more beautiful. The Hole in the Wall is exceptional and worth the effort to get here. If you return too late, you are forced to climb over driftwood most of the time, which takes much longer and is more strenuous.

I recommend this beach in combination with the Hole in the Wall or if you spend a lot of time in this area.

First Beach – La Push

A zoom shot of a young American Sea Eagle
Bald Eagle at La Push Harbour - Picture was taken out of the car to get close.

First Beach is easily accessible by vehicle in La Push. The two reasons I mention this place is the opportunity to watch sea eagles close around the harbour, trying to grab left fish and for people with disabilities to get a glimpse of the stunning coastal rock formations.

Huge sea stacks and rocks in the Pacific.
These rocks - James Island seen from Railto Beach.

James Island is situated opposite of La Push from where you can watch a beautiful sunset. 

2 Second Beach

Second Beach and the Hole in the Rock at Second Beach
Second Beach is second to none.

This beach is one of my favourite ones; therefore, we went there twice in the evening, in the evening, because of the low tide. Only a very small part of Second Beach is accessible at high tide.  Knowing when the tide is out and getting in is essential—information boards at the trailhead, including the tides.

Second Beach to the right with the Hole in the Rock.
Mark, a professional photographer from Oregon, captured the crashing waves through the hole.

When we hiked through the rainforest, we heard a whistle, but when we approached the beach, it disappeared, or better, we couldn’t hear it any longer because of the thundering Pacific. The wind blew through another hole in the rock in the distance.

Zoom photo of Hole in the Wall at Second Beach
Watching the sunset through this hole must be amazing.

Second Beach, with its dramatic sea stacks and also a hole in the rock where waves crash through, is breathtaking. 

A man standing on a huge drift log at Second Beach.
Markus, at the roots of the drift log.

The best time to visit Second Beach is three to two hours before low tide and roughly one hour after. Watching the crashing waves in the hole in the rock before the low tide is fascinating. During low tide, Second Beach is more accessible and offers fantastic photo options when the rocks are mirrored on the wet sand.

How long is the hike to Second Beach?

The last part of the hike the decline to Second Beach.
The last part is a little muddy.
  • Second Beach Trail Length: The path through the forest to Second Beach is 0,6 miles/ 1 km long – the return walk plus along the beach is roughly 2 miles/ 3,1 km long.
  • Duration Walk to Second Beach: It takes roughly 20 minutes through the lush rainforest before you hear the roaring sea and you get the first glimpse from above. In and out, roughly 45 minutes plus the time you would like to walk along this fascinating beach in both directions. Plan between 2-3 hours for Second Beach.
  • Elevation Difference: 174 ft/ 53 m
  • Difficulty: Moderate - The trail through the forest can be muddy in sections the closer you get to the beach. The last part of the trail has a steep decline down and can be slippery.
  • Rating: Phenomenal and picturesque beach – You can easily spend hours here
  • Tide Times Second Beach WA

Where is the Second Beach in Washington?

The breathtaking sunset at Second Beach
The sky changed every few minutes.

It is a 20 minutes drive, almost 15 miles from Forks, known from Twilight, to Second Beach on the west coast on the Olympic Peninsula. From the parking, another 20 minutes walk, and you access one of the most terrific beaches.

Information about the tides, regulations and the National Park
Information board at the trailhead.

Parking: Plenty of Parking at the trailhead Google Maps Location plus pit toilets (not mine, if possible, go before at Third Beach parking, they are way better.) and an overflow parking lot Google Maps which is necessary for the summer months.

A visitor leaving Second beach and heading back into the forest.
Look for orange-black targets which mark the trail back to the car park - middle left.

Camping at Second Beach: Possible with a permit. However, it is chilly from the wind, even in the summer. Weekends are a lot busier.

Summary Second Beach

The evening scene and atmosphere at Second Beach.
Second Beach is otherworldly.
  • Pro: You can always visit the beach - just around high tide, the accessible part of Second Beach is small. It gets busier here, but only during the day; mornings and evenings mid-week are quiet. Watching the sunset from here is otherworldly. 
  • Con: It can get a little crowded by backcountry campers in the summer. The overflow parking before the trailhead is essential in summer, the driest time of the year.

3 Third Beach

Visitors at Rialto Beach close the waterfall.
A mom and her two young boys enjoyed the beach and tidepools.

This is my second favourite beach, where Strawberry Falls plunges more than 100 feet down to the rocks and surf below. The waterfall is named after the Strawberry Bay. Reaching the beach and falls takes a little longer, which is the reason for fewer visitors. When walking through the Olympic rainforest, the thundering Pacific Ocean gets louder the closer you get.

A hiker on Third Beach after the creek crossing.
The creek to the right and the almost empty Third Beach.

The best time to visit Third Beach and Strawberry Falls is roughly two hours before and one hour after low tide, which gives you plenty of time to explore the end of the beach, the tidepools and the waterfall. Also, here it is important to know the height of the low tide. Safety always comes first!

The empty Third Beach and waterfall at the end
We left at midday and hiked to Third Beach during the morning low tide.

Regarding the sunlight on the waterfall, afternoon and evening, combined with the low tide, are the very best time to visit Third Beach.

The muddy descent to Third Beach
The track is muddy in sections; shoes with good traction or hiking poles are heplful.
  • Trail Length to Third Beach: 1,4 miles/ 2,2 km – 2,8 miles/ 4,4 km return
  • Strawberry Falls: 2 miles/ 3,2 km one way – 4 miles return.
  • Walking Duration: 30 minutes to Third Beach plus another 15-20 to the Strawberry Waterfall
  • Elevation difference: 263 ft/ 80 m
  • Difficulty: This is an easy walk of roughly 30 minutes through the Olympic National Park rainforest. Just the last section down to the beach is steep and muddy in sections. Hiking poles may be helpful at the steeper descent. We had worn our INOV shoes with good traction, which was sufficient.
  • Rating: Exceptional beach, extraordinarily picturesque and watching a sunset here is second to none.
  • Tide Times Third Beach

Camping Third Beach: A Permit is required.

How to get to Third Beach?

The path passes under a fallen tree.
The track leads through the rainforest of the Olympic National Park.

It is a 13-mile drive from Forks to Third Beach. The Second and Third beaches are only 1.3 miles apart and can be combined. 

Ample parking at Third Beach trailhead.
The huge parking lot for Third Beach in the morning.

Plenty of parking here because of the multi-day backcountry trail, and ok-ish toilets and information boards are available. Location Google Maps

Summary Third Beach

Orange and red ochre sea stars and closed anemones at low tide
There were plenty of ochre sea stars close to the Strawberry Fall.
  • Pro: Spectacular view from the top to Third Beach and all the driftwood. The picturesque Strawberry Fall is situated at the end of the beach, and you have this spot almost to yourselves. The tidepools were full of ochre sea stars.
  • Con: You are able to reach Strawberry Waterfall at low tide only. A stream separates the beach. You either must walk through the stream or balance above a big driftwood log to get to the other side. The waterfall is less spectacular in summer with a lower amount of rain.

4 Ruby Beach

View to Ruby Beach from higher elevation.
Ruby is for sure beautiful but busy.

Ruby is for sure spectacular, a world-class beach with enormous driftwood and absolutely easily accessible with ample parking and ok-ish restrooms. Parking Google Maps

The huge parking lot at Ruby Beach
Ruby is busy even in the shoulder season - parking lot.

Ruby Beach is situated half an hour drive south of Forks. We visited the beach first and continued to Forks staying there for several days to explore all the other beaches. Ruby Beach has crystals in the sand, which you can see the best on a sunny day, which derived the name for this beach.

An rock arch on Ruby Beach
It took us a while until we could get our footage here without anyone at the rock arch.

The trail is well-maintained, and you get a great view before reaching the beach.

The sea stacks at Ruby Beach
The further you walk, the quieter it gets on Ruby.

Camping on Ruby Beach is prohibited.

Summary Ruby Beach

Ruby is an endless beach but without sea stacks to the south.
The endless Ruby Beach merges into Kalaloch Beach.
  • Pro: Maximum views with minimal effort. This beach is the easiest to reach in just 5 minutes. Extremely rugged, beautiful, and accessible throughout the day during high and low tide. You do not have to care about the tides.
  • Con: Finding a parking spot midday at weekends and in the summer can be an issue. The beach is crowded, and this is one of the points which took down the charm for me.

Where to stay in Forks close to the Olympic Beaches?

Our Motel and the full parking lot
The lovely and quiet Pacific Inn Motel.

We checked booking.com and the available hotels and ratings for Forks and found the perfectly located Pacific Inn Motel. The staff was super attentive, the rooms were super clean and well equipped with micro and fridge. Because of the location, we were able to visit Second Beach, Third Beach, and Rialto Beach shortly before low tide.

The double room in the Pacific Inn Motel
Our room was on the upper floor.

Best Months to Visit


Related Topics

Location and Tips

Washington, Olympic Peninsula
United States
United States

Immerse yourselves in the awe-striking beauty of the Olympic National Park and Peninsula and create unforgettable memories for you and your loved ones. These 4 beaches definitely deserve a spot on your bucket list, and I'll give you all the needed information for each beach, including the best time, entrance fee, where to park and where to stay nearby and I compare all of them so that you can choose which fits well for you.

Who We Are

The author and photographer and her husband on Rialto Beach
This is Markus, and I am Micha at Rialto Beach. We have been married for 25 years.

We visited the PNW and all these mentioned Olympic Beaches. I gathered all this information for you. If you like the article, I would be happy if you shared it with friends and on social media. If you want to support me, subscribe to our YouTube Channel, and you may find some ideas for your next vacation.

If you wish to use any of my photos, contact me, but I will take action against picture theft. Why do I write this here? Hundreds of my pictures are used worldwide without any credit, nor did they get my permission. I don’t mind giving permission, but I want to get asked for it and to be mentioned. The world wide web changed a lot, and rewriting honest travel content is the new business for many fake travel websites. Do you wish to know more about this topic and how to unmask such websites quickly? Read my article “The Truth About Fake Travel Websites and Picture Theft.” 

Does honest travel content from real experiences has a future? I don't know any longer.

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Micha Herber-Bleich
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