Quilcene, WA

Camping for Oyster Lovers on Hood Canal

Maria Shimizu Christensen

The oysters of Seal RockPhoto by Maria Shimizu Christensen

A dozen oysters in a prime Seattle restaurant can run you $40 and more per dozen, and if they’re from one of our regional oyster producers they’re worth it, many claim. But a short hop over to the Kitsap Peninsula and Hood Canal will take you to a paradise for oyster lovers who like camping and don’t mind employing a do-it-yourself mentality.

The Seal Rock Campground hugs the shores of Hood Canal south of the town of Quilcene, and its rocky beaches are studded with oysters as far as the eye can see. The only technical ability you’ll need to enjoy the shellfish is the ability to shuck, which you can learn from YouTube videos if you don’t already know how. Oysters harvested here must be shucked on the beach and you must leave the shells there to protect future generations of oysters.

The campground is managed by the U.S. Forest Service, with 41 sites terraced into the hill that flows down to the canal. Each site has a picnic table and fire ring, some are along the water, and the campground has water taps, garbage cans, and a restroom. A small general store is a short distance south in the tiny town of Brinnon.

It’s first-come, first-served, so it might be difficult to get a site on a beautiful summer weekend, but you’ll have better luck mid-morning on a weekday. The campground is currently closed for the season, but opens back up in April. Sites are $18 per night.

If you plan to harvest oysters you’ll need a permit from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. An annual license for shellfish costs $17.40. An easy place to get one is the customer service desk at your local Fred Meyer store.

There’s a limit of 18 oysters per day per person, and each person in your party who plans to harvest must have a license. A 2-day stay can net you 3 dozen oysters for considerably cheaper than ordering them in a restaurant.

A plate of grilled oysters at the Hama Hama Oyster SaloonPhoto by Maria Shimizu Christensen

If doing it yourself isn’t your thing, there’s also the Hama Hama Oyster Saloon several miles down the road, south of the campground, where you can eat raw or grilled oysters outside with a waterside seat.

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Author of a Seattle handbook for newcomers, Maria provides news, guides, and tidbits for city dwellers, visitors, and day trippers

Seattle, WA

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