Neah Bay

Learn about the culture and heritage of the Olympic Peninsula’s indigenous people at this small town where you can also go deep-sea diving, fishing and even surfing.

The town of Neah Bay is located within the Makah Indian Reservation. Take a break from hiking and sightseeing and delve into the culture of the Makah people, whose name translates to “the people who live by the rocks and seagulls.” Discover what life was like for this tribe before Europeans arrived. See how a contemporary generation maintains the proud traditions of the past.

Neah Bay is located near the top of the Olympic Peninsula right on the northwestern point of the continental U.S. The town is actually outside of the Olympic National Park boundary and is named for the crescent-shaped bay on which it lies. 

As you enter the reservation, pick up a recreation permit. These are available at local shops and museums for a nominal fee. Make your way to the Makah Museum, which is part of the Makah Cultural and Research Center, and discover more about this fascinating tribe. Explore the permanent gallery, which features exhibits from a Makah village that was partly buried by a mudslide several centuries ago. The village, which contained over 50,000 artifacts, was discovered in the late 1970s at Ozette Lake on the western side of the peninsula. 

Wander through the museum to see antiquities ranging in age from 300 to 500 years. These objects provide a glimpse into tribal life prior to European contact. Don’t miss the full-size replicas of canoes and a longhouse, just two highlights among the thousands of artifacts on display. After exploring the various exhibits, stop at the museum store and browse handmade Makah carvings and baskets, as well as fine artworks, jewelry and souvenirs. Then venture outside to stroll through the Ethnobotanical Garden, which features an array of native and medicinal plants. 

As well as its cultural attractions, Neah Bay offers opportunities for outdoor adventure. Go deep-sea diving, kayaking or surfing. The area is also great for sport fishing.

Neah Bay can be accessed via the scenic highway that runs along the eastern coast of the peninsula. The Makah Museum is open every day of the year, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s days, and there is a small admission fee.

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