The Olympic Peninsula and Washington Coast: Places to Explore

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Neah Bay

One of the oldest villages in Washington, Neah (pronounced nee-ah) Bay is surrounded by the Makah Reservation at the northwestern tip of the Olympic Peninsula. Today it's still a quiet, seldom-visited seaside settlement of one-story homes, espresso stands, and bait shops stretched along about a mile of gravelly coastal road, which parallels the glistening, boat-filled bay. Stroll along the docks to watch boot-clad fishermen and shaggy canines motoring out on warped and barnacled vessels, and peer into the oil-stained water for views of anemones, shellfish, and sea lions. The rocky bulkhead rises behind the marina; look beyond that to view sunsets and Cape Flattery, the northwesternmost point in the contiguous United States.

Explorer James Cook named the cape in 1778 when his ship missed the fog-smothered Strait of Juan de Fuca and landed here instead. In 1792 Spanish mariners established a short-lived fort here, which was the first European settlement in what is now Washington State. The local Makah tribe is more closely related to the Nootka of Vancouver Island, just across the water, than to any Washington tribe. Like their ancestors, they embark on whale hunts by canoe, a right guaranteed by treaty, although fleets of kayaks skimming through the calm bay are all you're likely to see during your visit.

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