Trips on a tank: Hobuck Beach

POULSBO — As I listened to a coworker describe the beauty of Hobuck Beach, the road leading to it, and how much fun he and his family have every time they venture to that far-flung corner of the state, my mind was made up to make Hobuck my next trip on a tank.

“Trips on a Tank” is an ongoing series in which we explore how far a Ford Ranger can go before half a tank of gas is left and I have to turn around for the long road back home.

The most important part of a long road trip? The food.

Food is a tricky thing when planning a trip. You want to stay within your means and not over-do it, but you also don’t want to be left wishing you had packed a second bag of Pop-Tarts, especially when the going gets tough. I was also quite excited to try out a new cast iron grill and snagged a big T-bone steak and some carrots.

The cost of eating on a trip is going to depend on how often you wish to keep your belly full. My preference toward red meat, and eating breakfast at restaurants this particular weekend, meant I spent a bit more — about $90 all told.

After gassing up the Ranger and packing up my dog, Rooney, I headed out.

It wasn’t until the Strait of Juan De Fuca Highway (SR-112) neared the coast that the drive started to become interesting. Shortly after the town of Shadow, the roadway begins a series of serpentine winds as it negotiates the contours of the coastline. Certain sections of SR-112 can be extremely rough and pose serious hazards to motorcyclists and larger vehicles towing trailers. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for signs identifying bumps on the roadway, as these are not your average quarter-inch grading differentials that you might find after the county does a little roadwork.

Pulling off to the side of a road near a forestry access gate, I was treated to my first grand view of the trip. Between Twin Beach and the community of Pysht, I got a clear view toward what were likely the mouths of Joe and Jim creeks. Farther in the distance, the Pillar Point Recreation Area was visible. There are a number of locations conveniently placed along the Strait of Juan De Fuca Highway where folks can pull over and take in the views of the strait and Vancouver Island.

After arriving in Neah Bay, your GPS may tell you that the best way to get over to Hobuck Beach is by taking the Makah Passage, but this time that wasn’t the case. Makah Passage was an unpaved, rutty, bone shaker which managed to even wake a comatose Rooney. Instead, take Cape Flattery Road until it reaches Hobuck Road, thereby foregoing about 20 minutes of traveling at speeds of 10 mph or less.

Hobuck Beach Resort is a good place to camp near the beach. One night’s stay is $25 in a general camping area, which is basically an open field where campers are allowed to set up wherever they can fit.

Because Hobuck Beach Resort is located within the Makah Reservation, visitors are required to purchase a $10 recreational use permit from the tribe. Alcohol and marijuana are expressly forbidden from the reservation as well, with violators subject to citation and prosecution.

Hobuck Beach has a fairly consistent close-to-shore break, making it a popular spot for surfers to catch a wave. The beach also provides a cool breeze for those who aren’t looking to don a wetsuit, and the fine coastal sand makes for good barefoot walking. Remember to keep an eye out for the patches of dried kelp scattered across the beach since they can dry into hard, pokey masses.

While the campground appeared to exhibit all the symptoms of music festival event parking, falling asleep at Hobuck Beach Resort was not a problem whatsoever, and all of the surrounding campers were respectful and courteous.

One issue was the bathrooms. Take a hint from the boy scouts and “always be prepared” by packing a roll of toilet tissue, just in case.

With night falling fast and the T-bone steak a delicious, but increasingly distant memory it was time to call it a day. In the morning I headed back to Kitsap County. The entire trip didn’t even come close to using up all of the fuel in my tank. It took $30.85 and 9.61 gallons of gas to get there and back, making Hobuck Beach a more-than-attainable trip on a tank for anyone looking to get out to Washington’s coast.

— Nick Twietmeyer is a reporter with Kitsap News Group. Nick can be reached at