Whatcom Magazine

Wild Whatcom: Whatcom blessed with variety of marine shorelines

From the Blaine tideflats along the Canadian border to the rocky coves of Larrabee State Park, Whatcom County’s 130 miles of saltwater shoreline are full of opportunities to enjoy marine wildlife and serene vistas.

The big attraction at Blaine Marine Park is the view of a rich estuary at the mouth of a small creek. The area is a favorite feeding and migratory resting place for ducks and many other waterfowl, and also attracts flocks of serious bird-watchers.

To the west, across a narrow channel, is Semiahmoo Spit. Getting there requires a short drive on Drayton Harbor Road around the shallow bay called Drayton Harbor, where Whatcom County’s Semiahmoo Park offers excellent access to a beach that mixes sand and cobblestones. At low tide, bring rubber boots to explore the tidepools full of small fish and crustaceans.

During the summer people also can reach the spit by riding the historic Plover passenger ferry, which runs back and forth between Blaine Harbor and Semiahmoo Resort from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Farther south are the shallow waters of Birch Bay, with a northern shoreline crowded with vacation homes and small eateries. To the south lies Birch Bay State Park, with 194 acres that include a popular campground and close to a mile and a half of shoreline. It’s also a popular spot to dig clams.

Just south of Birch Bay is Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve, reached via Koehn Road, which heads south near the western end of Grandview Road. Facilities are minimal, with a gravel parking lot and a portable toilet. And because Point Whitehorn is a nature preserve, bikes and pets are prohibited.

Continuing toward Bellingham, Squalicum Beach offers access to rocky shoreline and, usually, small crowds.

At the Port of Bellingham’s Squalicum Harbor marina, the port operates Zuanich Point Park on Harbor Loop, just off of Roeder Avenue. Access to water’s edge is blocked by breakwaters, but there are picnic tables, lawns for flying kits, and paved walks for biking and strolling as you inspect the array of moored boats and enjoy the salty breeze.

Southwest of downtown lies one of the most popular spots in Bellingham: Boulevard Park, with sandy beaches and an overwater walkway that forms part of a popular trail into the heart of Fairhaven.

In Fairhaven itself, the port’s Marine Park includes another popular beach at the west end of Harris Avenue. The beach is gently sloping, and there’s a small lawn, picnic tables and a shelter for upland enjoyment.

The county’s most scenic shore is in Larrabee State Park, with about a mile and a half of shoreline. Some of that consists of scenic rocky outcrops, but there are also small sandy beaches and a boat launch at Wildcat Cove. Larrabee also has a campground and picnic areas. Visit at low tide for a look at fascinating sea creatures tucked into rocky tidepools.