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Charleston Marina on South Oregon Coast: Where Placid Meets the Raucous

Published 02/22/21 at 5:46 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Charleston Marina on South Oregon Coast: Where Placid Meets the Raucous

(Charleston, Oregon) – Calming (ish) breezes, eye-popping sunsets and the distinctive reflections of boat riggings cast on Coos Bay, along with that hypnotizing sound of waves lapping lazily beneath: there's little like the Charleston Marina on the southern Oregon coast. Not even a mile inland along the river mouth from sometimes raucous sands, the marina occupies a different kind of space. It's bustling at times and others devoid of activity; a bit more manmade yet somehow truly rugged all at once. (Photo courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast / Coos Bay, Charleston, North Bend Visitors Bureau)

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The Charleston Marina is a center of recreational fun along with scenic moments, presenting a host of crabbing, clamming and exploration opportunities, as well as a feast for the senses.

Being not far from the beach itself, those coastal winds can tear things up and send the bay waves rippling at high speed. In calmer moments, that steady lapping takes over and it's almost like a lowering heartbeat in a meditative session. Except maybe there's a gull calling somewhere of the "ohmmmm."

Along with the flying wildlife, occasionally the calm is pierced by the sound of a seal or sea lion, and the perennially goofy sights they present.

According to Janice Langlinais, Executive Director of the Coos Bay - North Bend Visitor & Convention Bureau, the pinnepeds aren't plentiful here, but they do provide a preview of where they can be found nearby.

“There are some seals and sea lions in the marina though not nearly as plentiful as in Newport, Langlinais said. “Probably because they have their own island. If you travel down Cape Arago Loop toward Cape Arago State Park, there is an overlook at Simpson Reef that looks out on Shell Island, where the seals and sea lions make their homes. You can hear them from more than a mile away when hiking on the trails.”

Then there's the copious crabbing of the area. It's among the best spots on the Oregon coast.

The commercial docks at the Charleston Marina have plenty of space for dropping off your crab ring. Also, a tad south of the docks – just south of the Cape Arago Highway bridge – it's full of hotspots to catch the pinchy little critters.

“Crabbing in the marina is definitely good,” she said. “Many recreational crabbers throw pots right off D Dock and bring up some winners. Gear and bait can be rented/purchased from Basin Tackle right in the marina, too.”

Courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast

Another intriguing option is if you have access to a boat – or maybe take a charter.

“Crabbing is excellent in the bay, from the marina all the way 'till you almost reach the McCullough bridge heading toward North Bend,” Langlinais said.

Clamming here is a huge attraction as well, one of the more prolific bay clamming spots along the Oregon coast. Langlilais said the mud flats outside the Portside Restaurant – immediately south of the marina – is the money spot.

“This is prime clamming area,” she said. “Rob from Basin Tackle also offers classes on how to clam with the PVC pipe diggers that he sells and that class takes place on these flats.”

The essence of the Charleston Marina, however, is that atmosphere. If the more strenuous pursuits aren't your bag, those sunsets reflecting on the bay create dozens of images worth a thousand words.

If the beaches are calling, the Charleston Marina is the gateway to that. The highway is a direct shot over to the wild wonders of Shore Acres State Park, Sunset Bay (see the recent ghost forest story on that spot), and of course Cape Arago.

The closest is Bastendorff Beach, however.

“If you want to talk about a close beach area, I would recommend Bastendorff Beach for this,” Langlinais said. “This is the beach that most of the surfers use and is easily accessed.” MORE PHOTOS BELOW

See more on crabbing and clamming in the Coos Bay / Charleston area.

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