Hood Canal Travel Guide: Searching for Shellfish

Itinerary #2: Searching for Shellfish Near Shelton, Washington

The traditions of clam and oyster digging run deeply through the historical veins of the Olympic Peninsula. As one of the most bountiful places in the country when it comes to sea-fare, warmer temperatures in Hood Canal set us to unearthing our boots, shovels, and spades from the back of the garage.

With a thirst for adventure and a hankering for the freshest seafood around, we'll bee-line to our favorite digging grounds and want to take you with us as we embark on the second of our monthly itineraries. Check out where our journey took us last month and get your map out as we gear up for the continuation of our ‘Tour de Hood Canal.’



Caffeination Station |  9am

To get the most out of your salty crustacean-hunting endeavors, hitting the beach for the hour and a half before and the hour and a half after low tide is optimal. While it fluctuates over time, and you should always check the tide chart before heading out, at the date of publication, low tide is around 1pm. This means a delightful leisurely morning spent over an organic, fair trade ‘cuppa’ is in order. Stop by Urraco Coffee Co. for an artfully in-house roasted bean and a fresh baked goodie. Lounge on the dog friendly patio next to a trellis bursting with colorful flowers, and be sure to take a bag of one of their deliciously gourmet beans with you.


Get Diggin’  |  11:30

A short ten minute drive from Urraco takes you to the Oyster Reserves of Oakland Bay. Digging for both clams and oysters are permitted year-round, but June through September are prime and yield the freshest goods. Most outdoor supply stores and even gas stations in the area will sell one, two, three day, or annual shellfish licenses for reasonable prices. Don't get caught without one! Then, don your rubber boots and your gloves, grab a bucket (regulations require that each adventurer has his own), and a garden spade or clam rake and get to it! 

Oakland Bay’s bounty is easily harvested at higher tides and requires little need to venture into the thick mud at the lowest point on the beach. Manila clams can be found in abundance, oysters can be spotted around every corner, and the luckiest hunters can even come across some Eastern softshell clams. Be sure to know the regulations of any site you visit: Washington State asks that gatherers keep no more than 40 clams a day (all over 1 ½” in size) and 18 oysters (all larger than 2 ½” in size). 

Remember: the eats are only good if the creatures are alive and remain so until you are ready to throw them down the hatch. This means you should avoid all crustaceans with broken shells or shells that aren't tightly closed. Leave all damaged specimens in the ground, and keep up with current beach closures due to red tide and other harmful toxins here.



 Kick Back | 5pm

 Leisurely evenings in Hood Canal are second-to-none and that’s before you have a hot skillet full of Manila clams bubbling away in a savory sauce made with Hoodsport Winery riesling in front of you. There are a myriad of ways to prepare your shellfish harvest, but the experts from Taylor Shellfish Farms have a few tried-and-true recommendations that you can find here.


 As the sun slowly sets on Hood Canal, igniting the Olympic Peninsula in sherbet oranges and pinks, remember that we love to see it all from your point of view. Share with #explorehoodcanal #hoodcanal and #wildsideWA and keep up with us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for more adventure around the Olympic National Park. Happy gathering!


Urraco Coffee Co.

Monday – Friday: 6am to 7pm 

Saturday:  7am to 7pm 

Sunday:  7am to 5pm


Oyster Reserves of Oakland Bay

Rules (species specific)

Tide Chart

Tips for Shellfish Harvesting

WA State Shellfish Licensing Information