180 miles of Oregon coast travel: Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita,
Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway, Garibaldi, Tillamook, Oceanside, Pacific City,
Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Waldport, Yachats & Florence.
Central Oregon Coast Brings Out Whales Last
Week of August
|Killer whale surfacing near Florence (photo Tiffany Boothe, Seaside
(Depoe Bay, Oregon) - To the whales lingering around the
Oregon coast and the Washington coast, the region is probably just a pit
stop for a few million bites of phytoplankton. But to thousands of visitors
to this section of the United States, the two coasts mean the biggest
panoramic theater to nature’s gargantuan cetacean show.
Gray whales are plentiful in the region all summer and
fall, but the central Oregon coast will make a point of it with a special
whale watch week, held August 27 – September 3. Unlike the usual
Whale Watch Weeks, which have volunteers up and down the entire coast
at almost 30 different high vantage points, the Summer Whale Watch Week
is limited to three spots on the central coast.
They will be at Yaquina Head, Boiler Bay and the Whale
Watch Spoken Here headquarters at Depoe Bay for that week. For these seven
days, volunteers will be stationed at overlooks and parks all over the
central coast, helping both children and adults learn about - and spot
– gray whales in the ocean. Trained volunteers will be ready and
waiting at those sites, daily from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
It all started four years ago, when volunteers at the program
wanted to celebrate its 25th year of existence. Newport’s Yaquina
Head hosted the first one, said Whale Watch Center interpreter Linda Taylor.
“The volunteer who started it is no longer with us,
but he insisted they continue it and that they add Boiler Bay,”
|Boiler Bay, one of three official whale watch sites on the central
The current incarnation of this summer whale festival has
more to do with spotlighting what is already there all summer and fall,
and take advantage of those engaged in a last minute summer fling at the
“It’s the last week of summer, so we take advantage
of that and hold this for those who are out on the coast, and about ready
to head back to work or school,” Taylor said. “Whales are
really at their peak all summer long and in the fall.”
Taylor said the whales are loitering around these waters
of the northwest, not really going anywhere – just here to grab
a meal. “They go wherever the food is,” she said.
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over 25 vacation rental homes to choose from. A breathtaking collection
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The peak migration seasons see some 18,000 of the cetaceans
cruising either north or south – depending on the time of year.
But Taylor said there are no statistics on how many are spotted along
this coast from week to week.
|Depoe Bay and its spouting horn, near the Whale Watch Center HQ
“It changes all the time,” Taylor said. “It
differs from week to week how many whales are around here. So there aren’t
any statistics on that.”
The central Oregon coast towns of Newport and Depoe Bay
are the ticket to some of the best seats in the house in many ways –
and for the entire season.
Both towns have the three official whale watching sites,
as well as a plethora of whale watch vantage points and cruises, and two
aquarium centers with loads of whale information.
|Whale doing a spyhop (photo Lisa Judah-Altice)
In Newport, aside from the official site of Yaquina Head,
other fantastic vantage points include: Don Davis State Park, in the historic
Nye Beach neighborhood, and Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site. Yaquina
Head Outstanding Natural Area and Yaquina Bay each have their own lighthouse,
while the Yaquina Head area has tide pools and an interpretive center.
Other wonderful sites are a short drive away: the Depoe Bay Sea Wall,
Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint, Cape Foulweather and the Devil's Punchbowl
State Natural Area.
of great aide to tourists looking to spot the great beasts: this time
of year means less winds and clearer skies. Less winds mean smaller waves,
so the whales are much easier to spot. You can be looking at an area chock
full of them, but if the waves are too choppy and big, they’re hidden
behind the movement of the ocean. Clearer conditions also mean unobstructed
viewing, while sunnier days make the ocean a deeper blue, making the contrast
between the waves and the color of the whales easier to distinguish.
|Whale surfacing (photo Tiffany Boothe, Seaside Aquarium)
September and early October bring the best weather of the
entire year to the Oregon coast. It’s called “second summer,”
actually, and it’s where the temperatures are at their warmest for
a variety of scientific reasons.
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Keith Chandler, with the Seaside
Aquarium, said he sees more whales at this time of year than any other.
“It’s not that there’s more whales out there. It’s
just that the conditions are better to spot them.”
Visitors can learn even more with a healthy dose of fun
by heading to Newport’s Hatfield Marine Science Center, which offers
storytelling, interpretive programs and other events during the Whale
Watch Weeks. While they’re there, they can meet the resident giant
pacific octopus, Reuben, learn at the touch pool, shop the marine-centric
bookstore or take a walk on the estuary trail (http://hmsc.oregonstate.edu/visitor/).
|Clifftops near Florence: also incredible viewpoints for whale watching
For most people, however, seeing a spout from a distance
only whets their appetite for more. Visitors can see a whale up close
by simply purchasing a spot on the deck of a charter boat. They come in
all shapes and sizes in Newport, which is home to the largest charter
and fishing fleet on the Oregon coast. Weather permitting, these seasoned
captains can get visitors closer to nature than you’ve ever been
before — and nothing compares to the shine on a whale’s fluke,
massive and jaw-dropping, 100 feet away.
Ocean Lodge. There will not be another property built
like this in Cannon Beach in our lifetimes. Rare, premiere ocean
front location; handsome, dramatic architecture and tasteful, fun
(nostalgic) beach interiors. Overlooks Haystack Rock. 100 percent
smoke free. Imaginative special occasion packages. Massive wood
burning lobby fireplace. Library w/ fireplace, stocked with impressive
book collection. Pet and family friendly. Lavish continental buffet
breakfast. In-room fireplaces, mini-kitchens. Jacuzzi tubs in select
rooms. DVD players, complimentary movies. Morning paper. Warm cookies.
888-777-4047. 503-436-2241. 2864 Pacific Street. Cannon Beach, Oregon.
|Newport's Nye Beach
Whales are just the beginning of Newport’s family-friendly
attractions. Get up close to another of the coast’s most protected
inhabitants, the Snowy Plover, at a new exhibit at the Oregon Coast Aquarium.
Since beach walkers are advised to stay far away from these birds and
their nests on the beach, this sandy dune enclosure may be the closest
you can ever get to this shy bird.
the sea otters, the murres and the crustaceans at this favorite Newport
destination, or check out many of its spring break events (www.aquarium.org).
After all that education, find some recreation at Newport’s
vibrant Bayfront, complete with fishing boats, restaurants, galleries,
candy stores, Ripley’s Believe it or Not and Undersea Gardens (www.marinersquare.com).
Also, take a historic turn in Nye Beach, where upscale
shops and cafes exude a new attitude. It’s here where Don Davis
State Park sits, but there are numerous high vantage points bordering
the neighborhood’s cobbled streets from which to view passing whales
as well. Try the end of NW 3rd St., next to Sylvia Beach Hotel and Village
Market & Deli, or the bottom of NW 11th, where the castle ruin-like
remnants of a condo provide prime viewing from high up.
|View from Cape Lookout
for more. Or for more information on Newport’s attractions and lodging
opportunities, head to DiscoverNewport.com,
or call 800-262-7844.
Whales will be plentiful up and down the entire coast
for not just that week but through until October. Other fantastic places
to spot them include the high overlooks just south of Cannon Beach, the
overlook above Manzanita, the Three Capes Loop near Tillamook and its
variety of high spots (Cape Meares, Cape Lookout and a variety of spots
in between), Seal Rock (just south of Newport), the Devil's Churn (south
of Yachats), plus a variety of high vantage clifftops between there and
Sands Condominium Motel, Lincoln City. Free, fresh baked
cookie upon check-in is just the start. All rooms beachfront and
up against Lincoln City's most famous stretch of beach: the D River.
Each room comes as a suite or mini-suite, and has a kitchen and
balcony or patio. Some w/ gas fireplaces, while all have a DVD Players;
movies to rent come with free popcorn. Heated indoor pool, a spa,
and this fabulous beach is lit at night. Rooms sleep from two, four
to six - including a deluxe fireplace suite. Gift certificates orspecial
occasion packages. www.dsandsmotel.com.
171 S.W. Highway 101. 800-527-3925.
Paradise Suites & Vacation Rentals - Seaside
Unique Luxury Accommodations in Seaside. 1BR Suites,
1BR & 2BR Duplex Units and 3BR Houses, units for 2-8 people.
Rent entire property for 20-26. Close to beach, river and Broadway
Suites are designed for two adults; vacation rental units for families.
All units have kitchen and many have fireplace, deck and jetted
tub. Comfy robes, slippers, luxury bath amenities, quality linens
and more. 741 S. Downing St., Seaside. 800-738-6691. www.SeasideSuites.com
City Vacation Homes
Something for everyone: smaller homes
with a view to a large house that sleeps 15. All are either oceanfront
or just a few steps away – all with a low bank access and
fantastic views. Most are in the Nelscott area; one is close to
the casino. You’ll find a variety of goodies: fireplaces,
multiple bedrooms, dishwashers, Jacuzzis, washer/dryers, hot tubs,
cable TV, VCR, barbecues; there’s a loft in one, and another
sprawling home has two apartments. Pets allowed in some homes
– ask first. Each comes with complete kitchens. Most have
seventh night free. Prices range from winter $85 to summer $230
per night. www.getaway2thecoast.com.
Cape Property Services.
Dozens of homes in that dreamy,
rugged stretch between Cannon Beach and Manzanita known as Arch
Cape. Oceanfront and ocean view , or just a short walk from the
All homes are immaculate and smoke free; some pet friendly (with
a fee). Some with broadband, indoor or outdoor hot tubs, fireplaces,
decks, and fire pits or barbecues. Call about tempting winter specials
that go until March (not valid holidays, however). www.archcaperentals.com
Rockaway Beach. All rooms are immaculate and have TV’s, VCR’s
and in-room phones w/ data ports. Oceanfronts have queen bed, a
double hide-a-bed, kitchen, cozy firelog fireplace and private deck.
Both types sleep up to four people. Others are appointed for a two-person
romantic getaway, yet still perfect for those on a budget. Elaborate
oceanfront Jacuzzi suite has two bedrooms, kitchen, double hide-a-bed,
fireplace and private deck, sleeping as many as six. For family
reunions or large gatherings such as weddings, some rooms can connect
to create two-room and three-room suites. Some rooms pet friendly.
523 N. Pacific St., Rockaway Beach. (503) 355-2112 - 1-800-824-0938.
at Cannon Beach. Beautifully wooded natural setting at quiet south
end of Cannon Beach. Great during winter storms with a new book by
the fireplace – or when the sun is out for family fun and beach
strolling. Handsome beach cottage-style architecture. Lush flowering
gardens and naturalized courtyard pond. Warm, inviting guest rooms.
Continental buffet breakfast. Warm Cookies. Family and Pet Friendly.
Welcome gifts. Smoke-free. Complimentary Wireless Connectivity. Wine
and book signing events. 800-321-6304 or 503-436-9085. Hemlock At
Surfcrest, Cannon Beach, Oregon. www.atcannonbeach.com.
for Freaky, Creepy Mole Crabs on Oregon Coast Beaches The
little critters make the tideline bubble and feel really weird as they
run across your feet
Transformations of Oregon Coast Beaches Seasons change
and so do beaches, revealing different sides and a variety of eye-popping
Found on Oregon Beach May Be 80,000 Years Old - They
are the remnants of a forest apparently 80,000 years old, found at Hug
or Night Mysteries and Merriment on Oregon Coast It's
more than just nightlife that comes to life, but the beaches offer major
Coast Travel Site Goes Wireless Provides Lodging Reports
- Oregon Coast Beach Connection now has mobile lodging and dining listings,
along with weekly lodging availability reports
coast mileage chart & map
trips, suggested itineraries
Coast Lodging Specials
BeachConnection.net's 1,000 pages
Coast Real Estate
Things to Do
Beach, Oregon Lodging
Beach Complete Guide
City Complete Guide
Oregon Complete Guide
TAKE THE VIRTUAL TOUR
Where the Columbia
meets the Pacific, Land of Lewis & Clark and loads of
atmosphere & history
Tillamook Head, family fun & broad, sandy beaches
lighthouse, upscale yet earthy, a huge monolith, fine eateries
& an art mecca
beaches, Nehalem and Wheeler's quirky beauty; laid back Rockaway
Barview, Bay City, Tillamook & an oceanfront ghost town
secret of the coast: Cape Meares, a lighthouse, Oceanside,
Netarts and Pacific City
A spouting horn
downtown, freaky hidden cliffs and whales, whales, whales
Time-tripping Nye Beach, a bustling
bayfront, marine science-central and two lighthouses
Constantly dramatic wave action, a mix
of the rugged & upscale
A lighthouse, ancient bayfront and miles
and miles of fluffy dunes