10 Mispronounced words around Olympic National Park

This untamed tangle of rivers and trails, bursting at the seams with a prolific abundance of flora is (in our humble opinion) one of the most beautiful places on earth.

When Joseph O’Neil and his Olympic Exploring Expedition embarked in the late 1800’s, they were determined to slice a path through this unconquerable wilderness. The team was turned back time and again by the behemoth mountains and unconquerable terrain. Instead of finding the route he had hoped for, O’Neil emerged with an inextinguishable intent to turn it into the protected national park that we enjoy on the daily. 

Channeling the intrepidness of the Olympic Exploring Expedition by tromping through the park and the surrounding areas ourselves is admittedly our favorite thing to do, but sometimes asking for directions can be tricky. Especially when we slip up and ask for “see-kwim” (Sequim) or for a “geo-duck” (geoduck). Reduce your noob status and read on to ensure that when you have to flag a local down, you don’t get a suppressed giggle along with directions.

Get Your Tongue Oriented

1. Lilliwaup

The base camp of O’Neil’s Olympic Exploring Expedition and close to one of our favorite waterfalls (Rocky Brook Falls), Lilliwaup is both a mouth-full to pronounce and an eye-full for everyone that gets a peek of this lesser-trodden town.

2. Sequim

One of the sunniest places in Western Washington, Sequim is privy to excellent outdoor opportunities and one of the best lavender harvests in the world with a pretty incredible festival to go along with it.

3. Twanoh

This difficult-to-pronounce state park’s name is derived from the Native American Twana tribes who thrived on the canal’s seafood bounty and the surrounding area’s seemingly endless resources.

4. Tahuya

Tahuya is our favorite place to get dirty. And once it rains, muddy! It would be a shame to mispronounce Tahuya if it made you at all late to catch the shuttle vehicle (pictured above).

5. Dosewallips

The bouncy name purportedly comes from a Twana Native American myth about a man named Dos-wail-opsh who was turned into a mountain at the river’s source. In other news, we’ve found that it’s one of the best places to do handstands.

6. Dabob

One of Hood Canal’s favorite oyster spots, Taylor Shellfish Farms, utilizes the clean, clear waters of Dabob Bay for their hatchery. If you haven’t heard about Xinh and her clam and oyster restaurant that prepares the decadent shellfish to salty perfection then you should surely check it out. Mmm.

7. Hamma Hamma 

The name is derived from the Twana Native American village called Hab’hab, which used to perch on the banks of the twice-named river. Apparently its namesake is a type of reed that grows in the region that roughly translates to “stinky stinky.”

8. hama hama (rhymes with mama)

Not to be confused with Hamma Hamma, Hood Canal’s other favorite oyster spot is named after the same river. However, it was founded in the early 1920s, before Washington State standardized the current spelling.

9. Skokomish

The Skokomish are one of the nine tribes of the larger Twana Nation. The name comes from two separate words, together meaning “big river people.” Contemporarily, if you ask for Skokomish, you’ll likely get directed to either the majestic cascading river pictured above or one of our favorite places to mountain bike.

Photo by Outdoors/Wild Food Blogger  Langdon Cook

Photo by Outdoors/Wild Food Blogger Langdon Cook

10. geoduck

Capping our list is the alien-looking, squirm-worthy clam. We kind of have a thing for them in Hood Canal. Don’t miss geoduck ice cream on your way through. Yeah, you heard us right.


Now that your tongue is all oriented, you’re ready to navigate your way through some of the most awe-inspiring wilderness and the surrounding towns that are steeped in western history. Until then, hang out with us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram for more Olympic National Park adventure inspiration.