Alki Beach Park

Alki Beach Park is a long sandy beach that stretches from Duwamish Head to Alki Point in West Seattle. Featuring a jogging/biking path, firepits, picnic tables and a bathhouse/art studio, the beach is popular and widely used year-round.

Alki is also known as the birthplace of Seattle. In 1853, The Denny party landed here aboard the schooner Exact. The event is commemorated with a sculpture west of the Bathhouse.

The Whale Trail sign at Alki Beach Park is just east of the Alki Bathhouse, facing north.

Where the Whales Are

The best time to see orcas from Alki is during the fall and winter, when the southern resident pods return to this area. Throughout the year, you may also see transient orcas near here. Their travel patterns are much less predictable.

To look for whales from the Whale Trail sign (or anywhere along Alki Beach), look north towards Discovery Point, and northwest, towards Bainbridge Island. The southern residents generally travel in the middle of the channel, to the northwest. Sometimes, of course, they make exceptions. 

  • In December 2010, members of J-pod rounded Alki Point from the south, and then continued east along Alki Beach and right into Elliott Bay.

You might also see gray whales near Alki, most commonly  in the spring. Gray whales often come very close to shore. They feed on shrimp-like food in the nearshore sediment, and use their baleen to strain the food from the soil.

Humpback and minke whales have been observed at Alki, but very rarely.

You are very likely to see harbor seals, California seal lions and other pinnipeds cruising along the Alki shore. Harbor seals often leave their pups on the wide sandy beach while they are out hunting.

  • Seal Sitters is an Alki-based group that helps safeguard the pups while they are on the beach. 
  • Remember, if you see a seal pup on the beach - leave it alone!

Whale Tail Park

A few blocks southeast of the Whale Trail site, the Alki Playground features a Whale Tail sculpture in the children's play area. Also called Whale Tail park, the 3.9-acre park adjoins Schmitz Park, Alki Elementary and the Alki Community Center.  Look for whale-themed art in the sidewalk around the park's east border, near the entrance to Schmitz Park.

Programs and Events

Alki Beach is a hub for community activities, ranging from art exhibits and "car-free Sunday" to walks, runs, and the SeaFair Pirates' landing.

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  1. Douglas Groth : 29 October 2013 7:10PM

    Today at about 1:00 I was on the Kaleetan halfway from Blake island to alki there was a good size pod maybe 1o whales visible. It was awesome.

    • donna : 29 October 2013 7:27PM

      That is awesome, Douglas! We were watching from shore at the same time. Researchers confirmed it was J and K pods. Thanks for letting us know!

  2. Zach : 25 October 2013 4:06PM

    I was just wondering if resident Orcas have come south yet this Fall 2013 by Alki? I keep close tabs on the West Seattle Blog but I haven’t heard of anything reported.

    • donna : 25 October 2013 4:29PM

      Hi Zach–
      Good question! K and L pods were here in late September. Last Tuesday, J and K pods were in the central Sound, but didn’t go further south than Richmond Beach, before turning north again.

      Watch the salmon reports– when the runs are near West Seattle, we’ll be expecting the orcas, too! We will always let the WSB know, and update our Facebook page too. Stay tuned!

  3. What I’ve Seen: December | Awakened Aesthetic : 31 December 2012 4:19PM

    […] While Haley was here (spoiler alert! she moved back to Mississippi), we spent a lot of time at the whale trail along Alki Beach. […]

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The Whale Trail

Address / Contact

1702 Alki Ave. SW

Seattle, Wa 98107

(206) 684-4075


April 15-October 1: 6 a.m.-11 p.m.

October 2-April 14: 4 a.m.-11:30 p.m.

Park Information

Whale Trail Features

Whale Trail sign


  • restrooms
  • picnic-area

Marine Mammals Commonly Seen Here

Marine Mammals Occasionally Seen Here

Marine Mammals Rarely Seen Here

Travel Tips

Coming from Seattle? Take the West Seattle Water Taxi and walk or ride along the bike path to Alki Beach.

The Whale Trail is a nonprofit organization in partnership with
Partners NOAA Seattle Aquarium People for Puget Sound Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife The Whale Museum National Marine Sanctuaries