How you get there: The park sits at the south end of Rockaway Beach Road where it bends up to Halls Hill. It’s another great destination by bike along the winding, scenic shoreline drive, or up and over the hill from points Blakely. Parking is limited, just a few slots along the shoulder – but hey, it’s a really small park. More than a few visitors and it’s crowded.
Why you should go: Of Bainbridge Island’s 53 miles of shoreline, only a smidgen offers public access. So the sliver of vacant waterfront that would become Rockaway Beach: The Park was a prime target for purchase under the city’s old Open Space program. The parcel was secured with help from the Bainbridge Island Land Trust, and the park dedicated in 2002.
A quintessential “pocket park,” Rockaway is a narrow shelf clinging to the foot of the bluff and offers one picnic table, several benches and a matchless, wide-angle view of the Salish Sea and Cascades. Mount Rainier peeks up over Restoration Point to the south, while bursts of ocean spray and wild rose bound the park on three sides.
The park rewards those who can read a tide table (bonus educational opportunity: teach the kids!) and who time their visit to the ebb. Receding waters reveal the park’s second, more extraordinary dimension: the namesake rocky tide flat, a small crushed-shell beach and colorful wrack, and dramatic, alien-landscape formations and cavelets hewn over millennia.
Divers favor the park for its access to Norrander’s Reef, a submerged rock rib renowned for teeming undersea life. More casual visitors can enjoy the simple pleasures of a sun-kissed picnic caressed by the offshore breeze, the passing ferry and sailboats straight out of Monet, and the spiky skyline of that Emerald City on the near horizon reminding you that you get to live here, not there.
Visit the Rockaway Beach park, post a photo or two on Instagram tagged #12in12biparks to be eligible for a cool prize, and get set for next week’s Bainbridge park adventure.