Discover the Tiny U.S. Town Known as the ‘Oyster Capital of the World’

Oysters close-up. A dozen of raw oysters on a platter
© Plateresca/

Written by Alanna Davis

Updated: February 1, 2024

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Oysters can be a divisive treat – many either love or hate these salty sea creatures! However you feel about them, it’s hard to deny their popularity. Roughly two billion oysters are eaten by Americans every year, and that number only seems to be growing annually. People on both the East and West Coast seem to think they have the best oysters, but the West Coast is actually home to the “Oyster Capital of the World.” Today, we discuss a small town called South Bend.

South Bend, Washington is considered the Oyster Capital of the World, though there have been several other contenders in the past.

Where is the Oyster Capital of the World?

Throughout history, a variety of different places have held the title of the “Oyster Capital of the World.” Many claim that the original oyster capital was Apalachicola Bay, Florida. Others feel that Marennes in France produces the most delicious oysters in the world. At one point, the New York Harbor was a top contender in the oyster game as well. According to Urban Archive, “The New York Harbor once contained 350 square miles of oyster beds.” This was of course before pollution and overfishing caused numbers to plummet dramatically. Today, a town called South Bend located in Washington State holds the title of “Oyster Capital of the World.”

healthy food seafood. raw diet atlantic oysters on a dark wooden background in ice with lemon

Shockingly, oysters can live for up to 20 years.


Why South Bend Holds This Title

South Bend is located close to Willapa Bay, which is famous far and wide for a variety of seafood. Locals enjoy fishing for crab, clams, salmon, and of course, oysters! One in every six oysters that Americans eat comes from this little town, so it’s easy to see why they hold this title. Naturally, this little town is home to a variety of delicious seafood restaurants. Whether you’re the type to catch and cook your own oysters or a foodie looking to explore the offerings of the sea, South Bend has you covered. It is important to note that fishing restrictions change somewhat often. Because of this, it’s recommended to explore the latest regulations before fishing in Willapa Bay.

Boat dock at sundown on the Willapa River at South Bend, Washington, USA

Beyond oysters, South Bend is popular for its natural beauty and small-town charm.


Final Thoughts

If you’re an oyster lover and happen to be in the area, the town of South Bend in Washington is a must-see attraction. After doing some fishing and hitting the local restaurants, be sure to explore some of the local shops and bring home some souvenirs. On your way out, stop by the gigantic oyster made of concrete for the perfect photo opportunity to commemorate your trip!

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About the Author

Alanna is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering insects, animals, and travel. In addition to writing, she spends her time tutoring English and exploring the east end of Long Island. Prior to receiving her Bachelor's in Economics from Stony Brook University, Alanna spent much of her time studying entomology and insect biology.

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