The Hood Canal area is incredible in so many ways: picturesque views, adventurous hiking, and lush forests just to name a few. But the brightest spotlight shines on the canal itself. At first glance, visitors may notice the boats sailing across the blue waters, but the true treasures of the canal are under the water in the form of some of the freshest, most delicious seafood in the region.

Oyster beds are a prevalent part of our ecosystem. They filter the waterways and provide food to hundreds of marine species. Beds can be spotted throughout the Puget Sound, but the Hood Canal boasts some of the best tasting oysters around. The reason for this, Hama Hama Company claims the oyster’s clean, crisp flavor is brought out by the location of the bed at the mouth of the short, icy cold river running down from the Olympic National Forest. Their Farm Sampler gives oyster enthusiasts the chance to have a raw bar in a box. Varieties offered in the box change based on the season and it includes proper shucking instructions.

Hood Canal crabbing
The cold waters of the canal make for some of the most delicious seafood in our area. Photo credit: Alyssa Ramsfield

On the other side of the canal, Denotta Seafood in Belfair, gives a wilder approach to oysters and clams. Created by Duane & Caron Denotta, this seafood company doesn’t have a set farm bed. Instead, they gather wild oysters and clams by scouring local beaches up and down the canal. Their varieties are based heavily on the season and location. Bags of the same-day fresh oysters or clams come in sizes from 2 pounds to 25 pounds! Follow their Facebook page closely to see where they are selling their catch of the day.

Want to dig for yourself? Wild oysters and clams are easy to spot up and down the low tides of the Hood Canal. Waterfront at Potlatch offers cabins, rooms, suites, and a RV park right on a private beach of the canal. The resort allows for oyster and clam digs right off their beach on Wednesdays and Saturdays. A Washington State License is mandatory and there are local limits. It’s a great spot for a staycation.

If you’re looking for a full shellfish experience, check out Mike’s Beach Resort in Lilliwaup. Registered guests of the resort can get in the mud and harvest on the private shellfish beach provided here. Guests of Mike’s have one hour to harvest up to 15 oysters and 20 clams. Gloves and boots are highly recommended to dig along with a Washington State Shellfish License. The best part about this option is the opportunity to go back to one of the rental cabins, clean up, and taste the fresh seafood with the Hood Canal as your backdrop.

Hood Canal
Bring the whole family to a local resort to do a clam dig along the shores of the canal. Photo credit: Alyssa Ramsfield

If you don’t want to dig or even prep the seafood yourself, Alderbrook Resort & Spa’s Restaurant gives a Hood Canal tasting experience to remember. The first option is to make a reservation and choose an option off their delectable menu. Hood Canal Clams cooked in a white wine sauce and Hood Canal Oysters with an alder-smoked mignonette are both available as starters. The ambience is relaxed and the views are stunning.

For a more one-of-a-kind experience, check out Union City Market’s Hood Canal Cookout series. During these specialized foodie events, a shuttle takes visitors from Alderbrook Resort & Spa to the small marketplace to experience locally foraged foods including Hood Canal shrimp, bivalves, and fish. Dinners are $45 per person and include a front row seat to a canal view that can’t be beat. Reservations are highly recommended as these cookouts fill up fast!

The freshest seafood experience awaits adventurous Thurston County residents willing to make the trek north. So hop on Highway 101 and visit the shores of the Hood Canal.

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