Where sunset and moonrise meet at the water, this Whatcom beach offers mountain views

Explore Semiahmoo Spit, which has stunning mountain views and beachfront on both sides.

Located in Blaine, Semiahmoo Spit is a narrow length of land that offers lovely beachfront on both sides and a view of White Rock, B.C. On a clear day, you will be amazed by its stunning mountain views.
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Located in Blaine, Semiahmoo Spit is a narrow length of land that offers lovely beachfront on both sides and a view of White Rock, B.C. On a clear day, you will be amazed by its stunning mountain views.

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Beaches of Whatcom County

We visited the beaches along Whatcom County’s nearly 130 miles of saltwater shoreline because you will want to, too.

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Located in Blaine, Semiahmoo Spit is a narrow length of land that offers lovely beachfront on both sides.

There’s much to see, and history to meditate upon, on this saltwater strip in northwest Whatcom County.

Why you’ll like it: You’re getting two beaches, in a way, both of which are in Semiahmoo Park and both with stunning mountain views, when they’re not obscured by haze from wildfire smoke.

On one side of the spit, you’ll look across pretty Drayton Harbor and at snow-covered Mount Baker.

On the other side, you’ll soak in the sparkling beauty of Semiahmoo Bay and look over to see White Rock, B.C. , and Canadian Coast Mountains.

At low tide, you can walk past the rocks on the beach and far out into the tidelands, especially on the Semiahmoo Bay side. Just follow the boardwalk that takes you to the beach. This seems to be the side preferred by families with children.

Semiahmoo 1.jpg
Semiahmoo Spit, in Blaine, provides access to Semiahmoo Bay, left, and Drayton Harbor. Evan Abell evan.abell@bellinghamherald.com

If you feel like moving about, there are two options. Take a moderate beach walk on both sides of the spit, or try the flat, paved path that’s part of the Coast Millennium Trail on the Drayton Harbor side.

Semiahmoo Spit is also a renowned birding site for waterfowl, shorebirds and raptors, so bring your binoculars. If you don’t know much about birds, check out the website for the North Cascades Audubon Society.

“Drayton Harbor/Semiahmoo Bay is one of 53 important bird areas in Washington state,” the society writes on its website at northcascadesaudubon.org. There are “large numbers of loons, sea ducks, dabbling and diving ducks, grebes, and many other species, especially during winter and in migration.”

Users: Walkers, runners, bicyclists.

Difficulty: Easy to moderate, with wheelchair accessibility on the 0.8-mile paved trail.

Round trip: 0.8 to 1.6 miles.

Other stuff to do

  • Go to the APA Museum, located in the park, and learn about the salmon fishing and cannery heritage at the spit, where the Alaska Packers Association had a cannery that lasted from 1894 to 1965. The museum is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from Memorial Day weekend in May until September. 360-371-3558 and draytonharbormaritime.com.

Baker Moonlight
The moon rises over Drayton Harbor at Semihamoo Spit, throwing its glow on Mount Baker and the Twin Sisters. Patricia Offin Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

  • Stare at the moon. We’ll let Holly Roger, program coordinator for nonprofit Wild Whatcom, explain this one. “It’s a beautiful location to see the sun set on one side of the spit and the moon come up on the other, nearly at the same time,” Roger said. “It’s also nice to see as it rises on the horizon, instead of waiting for it to come up over a mountain.” Wild Whatcom organizes walks under a full moon for its Ladies Night Out program. wildwhatcom.org.
  • Admire the totem pole created by Lummi Nation master carver Morrie Alexander in 1962 and read the accompanying story of Raven and Salmon Woman. You’ll find both outside the Cannery Lodge building at the park. Alexander’s totems were found in homes in public and private collections in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia. Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy both commissioned works from him.
  • Ride the historic Plover ferry, which was built in 1944 to move cannery workers across the channel between Blaine and the former APA cannery on the spit. The passenger ferry runs from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, including July 4.

  • See and celebrate birds during the 17th annual Wings Over Water Northwest Birding Festival, which is March 15-17, 2019.
  • If you don’t feel like packing a picnic, dine nearby at scenic restaurants at Semiahmoo Resort or at the Semiahmoo Marina Cafe.

Birds and Baker
Mount Baker appears on the skyline above Drayton Harbor. Jim Brunner Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Amenities: Restrooms, picnic tables and faucets to rinse off your feet after you wander into the sand and the tidelands at low tide.

You should know: Dogs need to be on a leash. Fires on the beach are prohibited, as are fireworks.

Before you go: Check the tides by going to tides.net/washington. On phones, try apps like Rise for iPhones and Tides Near Me for Androids.

Getting there: Take Interstate 5 north from Bellingham to exit 274 for Peace Portal Drive, toward Semiahmoo. Turn right onto Peace Portal and continue until you take a sharp left onto State Route 548 South/Bell Road. Follow as it turns into Blaine Road. At Drayton Road, take a right. Follow to Semihamoo Parkway, turn right. Stay on the road until you reach this county park, which will be on your left. Park in the lot set aside for Semiahmoo Park.

Kie Relyea: 360-715-2234, @kierelyea