Whatcom Magazine

Skimboarders drawn to shallow waters of Whatcom bays

Casey Gackle of Tacoma was one of more than 30 skimboarders who gathered for a skimboard jam on Bellingham Bay in May 2015. The event was organized by DB Skimboards, a Tacoma company.
Casey Gackle of Tacoma was one of more than 30 skimboarders who gathered for a skimboard jam on Bellingham Bay in May 2015. The event was organized by DB Skimboards, a Tacoma company. For The Bellingham Herald

Most people don’t know that Bellingham Bay is one of the best places in the world to skimboard. And many of those same people don’t know anything about skimboarding.

Skimboarding is a beach sport in which people run across the shoreline and toss a wood or fiberglass board in front of themselves, jump on it, and then slide or skim across the surface of the water. Some skimboarders coast out into the waves.

In Bellingham Bay, most skimboarders practice skateboard-style tricks, and hit features like rails and jumps usually seen in skate parks.

The mudflats of Bellingham Bay are a beautiful area to explore. The area is even more enjoyable with a skimboard under your feet, says Bellingham skimboarder Bobby Bruce.

“Bellingham is a great place for skimboarding,” he says. “The beach has a very, very, gradual slope, and when the tide is out, it’s out there leaving tidal pools behind, creating great little skim spots.”

Whatcom County offers several great skimboarding locations. Birch Bay and Locust Beach in Bellingham are the most popular spots because both are conveniently located and offer public access.

But any area with a sandy beach and just enough water is sufficient for a skim session. The best time to find good skim spots is at low tide.

“The ideal tides for skimboarding in Bellingham is anything below a 4-foot tide,” Bruce says. “You can skimboard at Locust Beach around 3 or 4 feet, but the water starts getting real close to the shore at that point and real muddy.”

Advanced skimboarders often bring boxes, rails, ramps, and jumps to the beach to test their skills.

“You can spin your body while riding your skimboard and do ‘shuv it,’ where your board spins and you stay stationary,” Bruce explains. “As your skill advance, you can start hitting home-built rails and ramps, which are a lot of fun. I’ve even seen a flip trick landed on a skimboard.”

In May 2015, DB Skimboards, a Tacoma company, hosted a skimboard jam at Locust Beach. More than 30 skimboarders from Whatcom County, Skagit County, and British Columbia gathered to skimboard and compare tricks.

“It was rad to see a skim event happen in Bellingham and for so many people to show up and hangout,” Bruce says.

Skimboarding has a long way to go to catch up with other local pastimes, such as snowboarding and kiteboarding, but it is growing in popularity.

Before, skimboarding was reserved for the summer. Now, skimboarders are starting to hit the beach year-round, regardless of the weather.

“It rains a lot,” Bruce says, “but you’re going to get wet anyway. Why not go skimboarding?”

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