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Where can we go whale watching?

You can spot whales nearly year-round on the Oregon Coast. Gray Whales migrate along the Oregon Coast twice a year, once in spring as they are headed north and in winter when headed south. There are about 200 whales that only migrate as far north as Oregon and can be seen nearly year-round until they return to their breeding waters off Mexico where they stay between December and February.

During the non-migratory times, the best place to spot whales is along the Central Oregon Coast between Lincoln City and Newport. Depoe Bay is one of the best places to see whales during the non-migratory times. Oregon State Parks operates the oceanfront Whale Watch Center in Depoe Bay where parks personnel assist visitors in spotting whales and offer interpretive information. Another good bet is The Lookout at the Otter Crest State Scenic Viewpoint, another facility operated by Oregon State Parks. The towns of Depoe Bay and Newport also offer whale watching boat excursions.

During the annual migrations, Oregon State Parks coordinates Whale Watch Weeks in late December and late March when the number of migrating whales is typically at its peak. Of the migratory periods, the Spring migration offers the best opportunity to spot whales as the trip is taken at a leisurely pace and the whales travel closer to shore. A few whales migrating north will be seen into the summer including slow traveling mothers with newborn calves.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on April 29th, 2016 - Post Your Answer

Where can we go crabbing and boil our catch afterwards?

On the North Oregon Coast, one of the best places to go crabbing is Nehalem Bay. There, you will find Kelly’s Marina and Jetty Fishery, both of which offer crabbing gear rentals, crabbing docks or boat rentals and you can have your crab cooked just steps from where you caught it and enjoy the freshest crab ever.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on April 20th, 2016 - Post Your Answer

Astoria is a port of call for our cruise ship — can we walk into town from the dock?

It is a little over a mile from Astoria’s cruise ship dock to the heart of downtown Astoria. It is about 1.3 miles to the beginning of Astoria’s main downtown commercial district and about two miles to the Columbia River Maritime Museum, Astoria’s largest attraction on the riverfront.This can be a pleasant walk along Astoria’s paved Riverwalk that passes restaurants, brew pubs and working waterfront businesses. Another fun transportation option is Astoria’s historic riverfront trolley that runs parallel to the Riverwalk.

There is bus service from the Port of Astoria to downtown departing every 15 minutes (route 11). An all day pass is available for $7 that includes on and off privileges and is good for the trolley too. An all day pass for the trolley is only $2, but check the schedule to make sure it fits your needs (typically noon to 6 p.m. in spring and summer, but it’s weather dependent too).

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on April 12th, 2016 - Post Your Answer

What kind of weather can we expect at the Coast in April?

April is a great time for traveling the Oregon Coast. Spring in general is known for lush growth, blooming plants and shrubs, abundant wildlife and great bird watching. High temperatures in April average in the mid to high 50s and low temperatures average mostly in the low 40s. Our maritime climate is unpredictable, so you will want to be prepared for unseasonably warm or cooler temperatures. You should always be prepared for showers as April rainfall totals up to five or six-plus inches for the month. That’s downright dry compared to our real rainy season between November and February!

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on April 4th, 2016 - Post Your Answer

Where’s a good spot to crab near Astoria without a boat?

You may find some crabbing charters out of the port of Hammond south of Astoria. In addition, the 12th Street bridge in Seaside is a popular non-boat location with crab rings dropped directly off the bridge. One of the best crabbing experiences on the North Oregon Coast is further south on Nehalem Bay. Kelly’s Marina and Jetty Fishery both offer crabbing from the docks (and boat rentals) with rental gear available right there. You can also have your catch cooked and cleaned right there and feast on your catch just steps from where it came out of the water.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on March 25th, 2016 - Post Your Answer
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Is it possible to visit Hood/Gorge and the Coast in two days?

You can absolutely do it! My suggestion would be to drive from Portland to the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Byway. Take in the waterfalls, take in the misty air, take in the probable rain (bring a rain jacket) and then stop for ice cream at EastWind Drive Thru in Cascade Locks before making your way to Hood River. There’s a little coffee shop/restaurant called Doppio’s Cafe on Main Street. They’ve got the best sandwiches in town and even better coffee.

After leaving Hood River, head toward Mt. Hood. Make a quick stop at Tamanawas Falls trailhead and hike through the forest to the jaw-dropping waterfall. It’s an easy 4-mile round trip hike that will leave you feeling refreshed and inspired to see what else you can find. Continue heading toward the mountain. You can take in some killer views at Trillium Lake or drink the world’s best hot chocolate at Timberline Lodge in front of a roaring fire. When you’re finished with that, you can drive through Government Camp and stop for pizza or beers, or both!

You can make it back to Portland in time to recharge and plan out the next day.

The Coast is sure to blow your mind. Head west on Highway 26 until you hit Cannon Beach. If you’re looking for a view, stop at Haystack Rock and take it in. This is the most photographed area of Oregon. How cool is that? From there, take a short drive down to Oswald West State Park and walk through the forest for about a mile before it opens up to the Pacific Ocean. You’ll feel like you’re in Jurassic Park, but I assure you, dinosaurs won’t bother you here.

If you’re still feeling jazzed about the Coast, you can head on over to Hug Point State Park, just down the road. It’s a similar beach and is just as rocky and wild as the others, but this one has caves and a waterfall. Just to keep you on your toes. From here you might be chasing the sunset so I’d recommend settling in and taking a few deep breaths because sunsets on the Oregon Coast are about the closest thing to a religious experience I’ve ever had.

From there, you can head back to Portland.

Take lots of pictures. Use our hashtag (#traveloregon) and soak up the experience. There’s no place like Oregon!

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Where should we stay during our romantic honeymoon on the Coast?

There are 363 miles of options for romantic escapes on the Oregon Coast, so your decision will depend on the kind of experience you are after. I would list Cannon Beach, Yachats and Bandon as great small towns that offer options in luxurious resorts with views, intimate dining and beautiful scenic areas nearby.

Cannon Beach, on the North Oregon Coast, checks all of the boxes with several nice oceanfront resorts, including two of the Coast’s top luxury lodgings, Stephanie Inn and The Ocean Lodge, both of which have views of Oregon’s famous Haystack Rock. You’ll find intimate dining at places like Newmans at 988, Irish Table, The Bistro or the Stephanie Inn’s in-house dining room. The town offers quick access to nearby Ecola State Park and its inspiring views. Just to the south you can visit the romantically named Hug Point.

Yachats, on the Central Oregon Coast, is home to the luxurious Overleaf Lodge and Spa, overlooking an active rocky portion of the Coast. Fine dining is more limited than Cannon Beach, but there are a few good restaurants. Yachats is just a few minutes from the spectacular viewpoints and hiking trails of the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area.

Bandon, on the South Oregon Coast, offers a beautiful beach to stroll and some great restaurants, including Alloro and The Loft. Oceanfront lodging is more limited, though Sunset Oceanfront Lodging has a few rooms perched directly over the stunning beach and its rock formations.

A few other great options for lodging to consider would be Whale Cove Inn near Depoe Bay. It offers luxurious rooms with views of beautiful Whale Cove and an exceptional in-house restaurant. If you want to walk the beach, you will have to drive to nearby beaches at Fogarty Creek or Otter Rock. Also nearby is the isolated, but large complex of the Inn at Otter Crest with access to its own stretch of beach and just minutes from the natural attraction of Devil’s Punchbowl.

For some, the eco-friendly WildSpring Guest Habitat in Port Orford is the ultimate in romance with only five elegant cabin suites in a natural setting. It’s a short drive from the beach at Battle Rock Park and fine dining at Redfish restaurant (which also operates a luxury lodging unit in the building).

Another romantic option, though not on the ocean, is Tu Tu Tun Lodge, up the Rogue River from Gold Beach. It is remote and romantic and also offers fine dining in-house.

I guess I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Proposal Rock on a nice stretch of beach along the tiny town of Neskowin. The town is mostly a quaint residential community, but there are some ocean-view vacation rental condos available and a great little restaurant. From Neskowin, it’s about a 15-minute drive to one of my favorite restaurants on the coast, Blackfish Cafe and 25 minutes away from The Bay House, both fine dining institutions in Lincoln City.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on March 16th, 2016 - Post Your Answer

Are there charter services that will take us to Haystack Rock to spread our parents’ ashes?

The nearest charter boat services to Cannon Beach would be in Garibaldi, south of Cannon Beach, or to the north, in Astoria or Ilwaco. Some charter services specifically offer burial at sea charters, including Garibaldi Charters and Pacific Salmon Charters.

It should be noted that Haystack Rock is at the edge of the shoreline and, to be legal, ashes must be scattered at least three nautical miles from land, according to The Clean Water Act. The EPA does not permit scattering remains along the shoreline. All burials or scatterings must also be reported to the EPA in writing within 30 days. You can read more and find the reporting form on the Environmental Protection Agency website.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on March 1st, 2016 - Post Your Answer

What day trips can bird watchers and active seniors take from Seaside in September?

At the top of my list would be Ecola State Park, just 15 minutes south of Seaside. It offers easy walking paths with beautiful coastal views of Cannon Beach, Haystack Rock and other sea stacks, the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse and the capes and headlands miles to the south. It can be a great bird-watching location, too. In September, seabirds will be gone from their rocky nesting grounds, but Brown Pelicans, cormorants, bald eagles and many varieties of woodland birds are common. Be sure to visit the Indian Beach portion of the park, too. It offers some great views of interesting rock formations.

Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach is another must. Again, you will have missed seabirds, like the small colony of Tufted Puffins that nests there, but there are always a variety of birds and many photo opportunities. Plan your trip for a low tide to explore the tidepools. The little town of Cannon Beach is also very picturesque and fun to explore. It is known as one of the Northwest’s top art towns with several galleries and upscale shops and restaurants. Cannon Beach also has a short nature trail that skirts Ecola Creek, a good spot to look for birds and river otters. The nature trail passes the city’s water treatment lagoons that are also good bird-watching locations. Keep your eye out for herds of Roosevelt Elk in these areas; they are commonly sighted this time of year.

There are some nice areas just south of Cannon Beach you will want to explore. There are nice highway side viewpoints just south of town and some State Parks you should consider. I like Arcadia Beach and Hug Point for photography. Both offer access to beaches that are worth exploring. If you avoid high tide at Hug Point, you can walk to the north around the point to a picturesque small waterfall carved out of sandstone. Further south is Oswald West State Park that offers a few options for short walks, as well as longer hikes. The walk from the main parking area to Short Sand Beach is an easy one through rainforest to the beautiful, small cove beach. Further south down the highway, a small gravel parking area offers a short walk to Devil’s Cauldron, a basin of turbulent wave action at the bottom of sheer cliffs. A little further south are several turnouts along the edge of Neahkahnie Mountain offer expansive view of the coast to the south.

For longer day trips south, I most enjoy the Three Capes Scenic Route. The most rewarding location for a short visit is Cape Meares that offers a short trail that circles the edge of the cape, emerging at a lighthouse. You can make a full day of this and also visit Cape Lookout State Park and Cape Kiwanda, then return to Seaside via the US 101.

For day trips north, my favorite stop for photography would be Fort Stevens State Park where the 1906 shipwreck Peter Iredale can still be seen on the beach. The South Jetty area of the park is known as a good bird watching location.

During your time in Seaside, you will want to visit the estuary just north of downtown. A small park offers easy trails and often good bird watching.

Happy exploring!

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on February 26th, 2016 - Post Your Answer

Where can I look for fossils in Bandon?

Much has been written about finding fossils on the Central Oregon Coast north of Newport. I expect the focus on fossils on this portion of the Oregon Coast is primarily due to fossil enthusiast Guy DiTorrice who freely shares his knowledge. You may want to contact him regarding information on other areas of the Oregon Coast where fossils are likely to be found.

I expect there are many other areas of the Coast where fossils can be found that have been less publicized. According to the Oregon Coast Visitor Association website, the beaches north of Cape Blanco are a known fossil location.

Similar to hunting for agates, fossils are likely to be found on beaches adjacent to rocky headlands and cliffsides. Winter is typically the best season to hunt for fossils as high tides and heavy surf dislodge materials from the edge of the shoreline. It should be noted that by Oregon law, it is illegal to dig or remove fossils from rocks or cliffsides, but a small quantity (one gallon) of “souvenirs” can be removed if found loose on the ground.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on February 14th, 2016 - Post Your Answer
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