Providing fresh clams for your table is a fun and rewarding experience. Clamming doesn’t require a lot of gear or money. A license, shovel, and bucket are the only necessities.
Before heading out, stack the odds in your favor even more by making sure you’re going to a beach known for good clamming! We’ve researched and visited these 7 great beaches in the Puget Sound and they won’t disappoint!
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife lists on their website 448 public access beaches. For many of the beaches, not much is known regarding clam populations. Save yourself the time and frustration by doing a little bit of research before you head out for a day of clamming.
You can search from the list of beaches (click ‘Find Beaches’ to open the entire list) or you can use the interactive map once you open one to visually choose another beach.
Here are 7 of the best public clamming beaches available in the Puget Sound.
- Oakland Bay Tidelands
- Potlatch State Park/Potlatch DNR
- DNR-24 (Harstine Island State Park)
- North Bay (Case Inlet)
- Twanoh State Park
- Dabob Broad Spit
As always, make sure to check both the Department of Health and the WDFW beach status before digging.
1. Oakland Bay Tidelands
Harvest: Manila clams, Eastern softshell clams, Oysters
Located in Mason County, Oakland Bay is a 45 minute drive from Olympia. The best clamming is found at the Bayshore Preserve. Public parking is located off Highway 3 in the WDFW parking lot. Portable toilets are available. There is a short trail leading from the parking lot to the beach. Be cognizant of private property and watch for boundary signs.
Manila clams are abundant on this muddy beach. Bring good boots and a shovel or small garden rake to pull up the clams. Try the southeast portion as the gravel is not quite as muddy. Eastern softshell clams and oysters are also present.
This beach exposes good clamming areas even with relatively high tides but low tide provides the best chance to harvest your limit of clams. Look for oysters among scattered rocky patches.
2. Potlatch State Park/Potlatch DNR
Harvest: Manila clams, Littleneck clams, Butter clams, Varnish clams, Eastern softshell clams, Oysters
Only 35 minutes from Olympia, Potlatch State Park and Potlatch DNR land combine in over a mile long stretch of beach that parallels Highway 101. Parking is prohibited along Highway 101 and is strictly enforced as the land between the road and the beach is privately owned. To access this beach, you must park in the Potlatch State Park’s main parking lot at the northern end.
The facilities at Potlatch State Park include restrooms, showers, potable water, picnic areas and camping. There are no facilities on the Potlatch DNR land.
You can expect to find six varieties of shellfish here. They are not spread out equally so knowing target areas will help you narrow down the search.
Manila clams can be found along the stretch of beach closest to the highway and in middle/upper intertidal zones on the large tide flat at the southern end of Annas Bay.
Search for native littleneck clams along the entire stretch of beach. They are usually lower in tidal elevation than Manila clams and not quite as abundant.
Butter clams are most prevalent in the lower intertidal zone in front of the parking lot and in the southern end of the beach. Potlatch DNR has mostly butter clams but other clams can still be found. Dig in the middle intertidal zone in the sand and gravel.
Varnish clams are predominately found in the upper intertidal zone along the southern shoreline of Potlatch State Park and Potlatch DNR.
Check near Enetai Creek for Eastern softshell clams which like freshwater filtration.
Oyster harvests are excellent along the stretch of beach closest to the road and near Enetai Creek. Potlatch State Park beach has more oysters than the Potlatch DNR portion.
3. DNR-24 (Harstine Island State Park)
Harvest: Native littleneck clams, Manila clams, Horse clams, Oysters
Mason County has another good clamming beach 53 minutes from Olympia. DNR-24 runs along Harstine Island State Park and joins with McMicken Island Marine State Park. This beach is best accessed by boat but there is a foot trail from East Yates Road inside Harstine Island State Park. A Discover Pass is required to park at the trailhead.
The trail is about a half mile long and is challenging and steep in some places. It is another mile along the beach to reach the southern oyster beds and littleneck clam areas. Please be aware, if you utilize this trail, incoming tides may make returning to the trailhead difficult.
There are two nearby boat ramps used to access this beach: Harstine Ramp (Latimer’s Landing) which is 10 miles by boat and Fair Harbor Marina Ramp (Grapeview Ramp) which is 6.5 miles by boat to the south end of DNR-24.
The southern oyster beds have been planted and provide excellent oyster harvests. This beach is also really good for native little neck and manila clams. Dig in the sand and gravel in the mid-high intertidal zones above the oyster beds. Horse clams are also present throughout the beach. Target them in sandy areas near the low to mid-intertidal zones.
4. North Bay (Case Inlet)
Harvest: Manila clams, Native littleneck clams, Butter clams, Eastern softshell clams, Cockles, Oysters
A popular clamming beach just a little further north of Harstine Island State Park is North Bay Beach at the northern most end of Case Inlet. The parking lot here holds less than 25 cars and street parking is not allowed. If full, try another nearby beach like Oakland Bay, Belfair State Park or Twanoh State Park. There is a bathroom open during shellfish season.
Good clamming habitat is exposed with a plus 2 foot tide or lower. Excellent for Manila clams and native littlenecks, head for the beach just north of the trail access. This is the best digging area but clams are located throughout the beach, often higher up than on other beaches.
5. Twanoh State Park
Harvest: Manila clams, Native littleneck clams, Butter clams, Cockles, Oysters
Twanoh State Park is 18 minutes west of North Bay and is located along the tip of Hood Canal. This a great park to take the family along for a day outing as it has restrooms, showers, potable water, year-round camping, boat moorage, a launching ramp, woodland trails, a swimming area, and picnic areas.
Manila clams, native littleneck clams, butter clams and cockles can all be found below the oyster beds. Start on the left side of the boat ramp and work your way back toward the main beach until you reach the main point west of the swimming area. May through September, the portion of beach near the swimming area and boat pump out is closed to shellfish harvesting due to boat and swimmer pollution.
The best location to collect oysters is the near the boat ramp in the day use area.
Harvest: Manila clams, Native littleneck clams, Butter clams, Cockles, Horse clams, Geoducks, Oysters
Just over an hour drive from Olympia, the Duckabush public tideland is known for excellent Manila clam and oyster harvests. The closest restroom facilities can be found 2.4 miles north on Highway 101 at Dosewallips State Park.
There is a large gravel public parking lot just south of the Duckabush River. To reach the beach, there is a trail from the parking lot that leads under the highway bridge to the river. Follow along the river trail until you reach the tide flats.
Duckabush is an excellent beach for Manila clams. Since this is a fairly large area, finding the best spots is sometimes tricky. Try sand and gravel areas in the mid-intertidal zone, especially in exposed tidal channels. Digging where others have is also a good starting point. Other clams can be found further out in the mud and sandy low intertidal zone. Geoducks can be found with a minus 2 foot tide.
Duckabush used to be a commercial oyster beach and as such, is one of the best places to harvest oysters.
7. Dabob Broad Spit
Harvest: Manila clams, Horse clams, Butter clams, Geoducks, Native littleneck clams, Oysters
For those of you who want less competition from walk-in harvesters, there are many beaches accessible by boat only. Dabob Broad Spit, 1.5 hours from Olympia, is one such beach worth checking out. The two nearest boat ramps are Point Whitney Ramp (about 4 miles away) and Quilcene Marina Ramp (about 5 miles away).
There are no facilities at Dabob Broad Spit; however, there is a nice picnic spot at the tip of the spit above the high tide line.
This is an excellent beach for Manila clams. Numerous small clams are present in the lagoon. Keep in mind that all clams smaller than 1.5 inches must be released.
Horse clams and geoducks are found on the south side of the spit. Butter clams and native littleneck clams are found throughout the beach in mixed sand and gravel.
This beach was also a previous commercial oyster farm. Large oyster beds line both sides of the spit and continue to the southern boundary.
If you are excited about going to one of these beaches but you’ve never been clamming before, make sure to read our ultimate guide to clam digging in Washington State. After that, you are ready to head out and dig for clams!
There are 441 other beaches throughout the Puget Sound worth checking out. You are sure to find a spot, secret or not, that fills your bucket full of tasty clams.