Alki Beach is located on the northern edge of the West Seattle peninsula on the Puget Sound between Alki Point Light and Duwamuish Head Light (entrance to Port of Seattle). It is approximately 3.4km (2.1mi) end to end.
Jutting out into Puget Sound, Alki was the original white settlement in what was to become the city of Seattle. Part of the city of West Seattle from 1902 to 1907, Alki and the rest of West Seattle was annexed to Seattle in 1907.
The Duwamish called it "Prairie Point". The name refers to prairies near the point that were maintained through seasonal burning by indigenous cultivators. It was a place of native occupation as well as colonial reconnaissance well before 1851.
The Denny Party landed at Alki Point November 13, 1851, and platted a settlement of six blocks of eight lots. The original name of the settlement was "New York Alki," "Alki" being a word in Chinook Jargon (Wawa) meaning "eventually" or "by and by." By next April, A.Denny abandoned the site at Alki for a better-situated site on the east shore of Elliott Bay now known as Pioneer Square. Other settlers held on at Alki for a while, but most eventually moved to Pioneer Square.
The Alki Point Lighthouse dates from 1913, replacing the United States Lighthouse Service's post light from 1887 and Hans Martin Hanson's lantern-on-a-post from the mid-1870s.
Swimming at Alki Beach
Alki Beach is open and accessible for swimming year-round. The bathhouse (at the end of 60th Ave SW) provides public bathrooms close to the water and is located close to many cafés in which to warm after a swim. The water temperature at Alki Beach ranges between 45F (January to March) and 60F (rarely in August). Gravel and imported sand make up the beach from the bathhouse west to Alki Point; seawall and large rocks cover the coastline east to Duwamish Head. Currents are typically light, especially when compared to the strong currents prevailing on the far side of Alki Point. At low tide, the water around the bathhouse can be very shallow, making it difficult to abide by Seattle municipal codes for open water swimming.
Alki Beach is frequented by swimmers associated with Western Washington Open Water Swimmers.