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Dockside and Pier Wonders of the Oregon Coast: Ethereal, Dreamy Finds

Published 12/23/20 at 4:35 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Dockside and Pier Wonders of the Oregon Coast: Ethereal, Dreamy Finds

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(Newport, Oregon) – The beaches of Oregon’s coastline are well known and their alluring facets in insane abundance. There’s little that beats them. (Above: marina at Charleston, courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast)

Except maybe – at times – the boardwalks and piers of these coastal towns. Where civilization meets the primitive, wild waters and builds structures that hover over them, there are experiences to be had in these places that can’t be had on the beaches. Here’s a few examples.

North Bend Boardwalk. Tucked off to the side of the small yet comely south coast burgh of North Bend sits its boardwalk, skirting the edges of the great river. A few hundred feet of concrete and tiled walkway are decorated by plants and ornate, old-timey lamp posts. In the water in front of you, rickety, tattered remnants of an old dock structure sit, with pilings now hosting birds and saltwater life – holding up their world instead of whatever mankind had put there before.

Courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast

Majestic green hills undulate in the distance to the east. Always-mesmerizing, gigantic freighters come and go along the riverfront here, their behemoth outlines and neck-straining height an impressive, almost overwhelming presence. Even to watch the smaller vessels is a constant kick in the pants.

To the west of here, at the opening to Coos Bay, along the beaches on either side, there’s a veritable graveyard of shipwrecks. About a half dozen or more met their ends in and around those jetties. Almost none are visible now, but it’s worth a visit to Coos Bay’s outer edges to look around and imagine the oceanic drama that played out in the last 100 years. (Coos Bay's Mystery Shipwreck - Coos Bay's Czarina Shipwreck)

Bandon's pier/boardwalk - photo courtesy Ian Sane / Flickr

Also engaging are the boardwalk and piers at Bandon, where long structures jut out into the bay and let you vibe out on the beauty or partake in something a little more active – like crabbing. The marina at Charleston is also a hands-down stunner, with hundreds of pro and amateur photos of the sunset colors that erupt here as proof of its beauty. Oregon Coast Hotels for this - Southern Coast

Nehalem Bay. At Wheeler, one of the north Oregon coast’s more subtle pleasures is at the tiny town’s docks. Here, you’re several miles inland via the highway, but actually only a couple of miles from the beaches if you’re looking straight out. The dock is the gateway for kayakers, boaters and all sorts of water recreational possibilities and modes, leading into wild marshes and primitive, untouched scenery that can’t be found any other way.

From here, the majesty of the skies at Manzanita can be mind-numbingly on display, including explosions of color or intensely moody clouds where marine and inland air masses collide. The mountains and summits surrounding Nehalem Bay can be seen, including the intriguing shape of Onion Peak.

At night, Nehalem Bay’s Wheeler docks are special, however. The opaque river is partially aglow in the lights of the town. Even more spectacular is when the glowing dinoflagellates (phytoplankton) are around the beaches and they make their way into the bay. Then, stick your hand in the bay – or even better go swimming in it – and you’ll see a weird, eerie blue / green glow in your wake. It’s ethereal and unforgettable. Hotels in Manzanita, Wheeler - Where to eat - Manzanita, Wheeler Maps and Virtual Tours

Newport’s Yaquina Bay. The entire bay – from Newport proper to South Beach – is one gorgeous, entrancing place. The docks themselves are an effervescent kick to wander, sometimes encountering great, barking sea lions or watching the fishing vessels meander in and out. The whole of Newport’s Bayfront district is clamoring with activity, so it’s nice to get away from all that and slowly stroll through the inner workings of the docks and the less frenetic area down by the maritime museum.

Yet at South Beach, where there’s not nearly as many other humans, the monumental, elongated pier jutting out into the salty waters may be the highlight. From here, crabbing is a must, or at least walking at a snail’s pace and chilling at the energizing yet calming sights and sounds. The water gently laps and plops against the structure, making a hypnotizing noise.

However, at night is when the South Beach Pier really shines. All those visual and auditory factors are still present, but now in the dark the place becomes one of the more romantic walks along the entire Oregon coast. It’s also rather surreal, as sometimes the incoming vessels and their enormous lights look like alien craft hovering into the bay.

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