Wednesday, September 13th, 2017
Bellingham’s Secret Playground – Locust Beach
Todd Elsworth

In Bellingham, the best-kept secret for amazing access to the waterfront is Locust Beach. There’s always a hidden gem tucked away in any town, that only the locals know about.  You can ride your bike, take the bus, drive or come by water- as we chose to do on a sunny Sunday.

A dog eagerly awaits the toss of a stick during an intense winter sunset on a low tide at Locust Beach. Photo Chris Howard

We paddled the short distance from Little Squalicum Beach hugging the coastline to our destination. I towed my daughter Violet in her own kayak- a stable Delta 10 (kayak catamaran with a window too see underwater = super cool). With the sun in our face and very little wind, we headed west knowing that the tide had just peaked out for the day and it would be emptying out the bay over the next couple hours.

Locust Beach Map

The location of Locust Beach is logical. It is the northern edge of the Nooksack River Delta. On the map, you can see the alluvial plain that fills in the upper corner of our main water body. The delta does many things and one thing that it does quite well,  it makes for a great beach to play all day and for some all night. The sand that has been deposited creates a unique landscape for playing on the beach and in the water. The star on the map is our secret spot.

As we were coming into Locust Beach from the water, we noticed that there were two hammocks hanging from the old pilings that dot the coastline. This is a reflection of the new trend in outdoor comfort as well as the numerous tree forts and hammock hanging opportunities that abound on shore. Walking the shoreline is a great way to experience the extent beach and may take an entire day to do so.

Hanging out

Knowing that the tide would be retreating from here on out, we tied our Delta Kayak fleet off to the pilings and carried our picnic to the beach. We found an available spot amongst the driftwood-strewn shore and spread out our stuff for a quick break from the action. People were out and about all over the beach, engaging in all kinds of activities. It was quite a show and we were happy to be a part of it.

Delta Fleet

One of the most popular activities on warm days at Locust Beach is to walk as far out onto the delta as you can. The water is relatively warm and your sense of walking into the unknown is fun too. The sand stretches as far as you can imagine, but when you get out far enough, you will encounter the creeks that flow out through the sand. It’s fun to cruise through these in kayaks at low tide to see how the ebb and flow of the bay works in concert with the river as they meet in this magical place.

Locust Beach

As we ventured out into the abyss, we looked back to the shore and saw some interesting activity. Skimboarding is a popular sport for many in this spot. The shallow water and the sandy beach make for the perfect combination to run along with your board, drop it in the shallow water and show off for your friends. We went over to check out the coeds playing on their planks- trying out new tricks and stunts. They were kind enough to do a couple runs towards us so we could capture them on “film”. Comments like, “Dude, you’re going to be famous” were thrown out by their friends as the shutter snapped their radical moves.

Skimboarding Locust

On windy days, this is also a mecca for kiteboarders.

The shallow water that extends across this area of the bay is also ideal for learning and enjoying this popular new sport. It’s on my bucket list for the summer and I’ll be taking kiteboard lessons from DJ and the Team at Bellingham Kite Paddle Surf – stay tuned to see how it goes!

The tide retreated as we made our way back to our boats. After another snack, we prepared for our journey home. But not before playing in the mud! Who can resist walking through the soupy gooey mud that emerges as the tide goes out? Not my daughter!


Beach shoes are a must when you’re walking around Locust Beach. You never know what you’re going to step on or in. Just know that while your shoes may have been made for walking, sometimes they may not choose to stay on your feet.

Locust Beach Mud

Needless to say, knowing the tides for the day is a must when you’re planning your trip to Locust Beach- especially if you’re arriving by boat.


Bellingham Bay Tides

Bellingham Bay Wind and Weather

For more ideas about fun things to do throughout Bellingham visit our home page.

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About the Author:

As the co-Executive Director of Recreation Northwest and the founder of the Bellingham Traverse, Todd promotes outdoor recreation and brings people together to enjoy, preserve and improve the places where we play. He enjoys biking, hiking, paddling, skiing and will try anything twice. Get connected at

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