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Hidden Summer Pleasures of One Oregon Coast Town
(Newport, Oregon) – Newport explodes in the summertime with a bevy of things to do, see and taste that aren’t necessarily well known. Deep sea fishing, crabbing, lighthouses, special family events, more outdoor dining than anywhere else on the coast and a new butterfly attraction are part of the secret frivolity of this central coast hot spot.
Beaches and Lighthouses. Aside from miles of fluffy, sandy beaches – stretching from South Beach all the way to Otter Rock – Newport has two lighthouses. Both are open summer hours. One is the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, which towers 93 feet above the headland. The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse is an attraction that allows you to see how the lighthouse keepers lived some 150 years ago.
Entrance fees are charged at Yaquina Head Outstanding Area: $7 per car, which includes a three day pass. Annual pass $15. You can tour the lighthouse from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 541.574.3100.
The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Entrance is free, donations suggested. 541.574.3100.
Oregon Coast Aquarium’s Swampland, Other Family Events. The Oregon Coast Aquarium’s Swampland exhibit, which opened Memorial Day weekend, is a fascinating, colorful experience featuring three different kinds of swamps. A 12-foot anaconda and a 6-foot alligator are among the many swamp creatures you can see up close. Visitors can also enjoy the shark tunnel, jellies, sea lions, otters, and sea birds at the Aquarium. There are also a large variety of special events for kids, such as Sea Lion Encounters, sleepover events, shark showcases, summer camps for a few days, and more. See their site for full schedule: www.aquarium.org. (541) 867-3474.
Butterfly Adventures. Butterfly Adventures showcases free flying regional butterflies where visitors will learn the life cycle of the butterflies. It’s a 2000-square-foot walk through a butterfly house filled with colorful regional plants and flowers, providing the venue for visitors to see live examples of the amazing change from egg, to caterpillar, to pupae, to butterfly at the life cycle station. Professional butterfly handlers will provide a hands-on interaction with Monarch or Painted Lady butterflies for that special memory that lasts a lifetime. A highlight is getting your photo taken with a butterfly on you. 250 SW Bay Boulevard, open daily from 9 am to 8 pm. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for children 3-11 years old, and under 3 years are free. (541) 265-2206
Outdoor Dining. Of all the towns on the Oregon coast, Newport has the largest number of restaurants with outdoor dining. At least 16 eateries have outdoor areas: Rogue Ales Public House, Lighthouse Deli (in South Beach), Port Dock One, Local Ocean Seafood, The Coffee House, Village Bistro & Deli, Café Stephanie, The Noodle, Chowder Bowl, Canyon Way, Savory Café, Bay 839, Starbucks/Quiznos, Rookies Sport’s Bar (Best Western at Agate Beach), Nana’s Irish Pub, and Super Oscars.
Fishing and Crabbing. There are about a dozen charter fishing vessels out of Yaquina Bay that take the public on tours or fishing expeditions on the open sea.
Brandon Ford, with the Newport office of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said albacore tuna is the hot item right now off the central coast. “The fish are between 30 and 40 miles offshore but should move closer,” he said. “One charter boat out of Depoe Bay came back with 50 fish.”
The near-shore (inside 40 fathoms) halibut fishery between Cape Falcon and Humbug Mountain (Manzanita to Port Orford) remains open with more than 30 percent of the quota remaining.
The statewide daily bag limit on halibut is one fish, with an annual limit of six fish.
Ford said fishing for lingcod remained at about one fish for every two anglers targeting lingcod. Most anglers surveyed filled their limit of bottom fish. Success in catching lings and most other bottom fish improves as waves moderate.
Crabbing remains a large chunk of summer fun in the Newport area. Ford said most crabbers had average catches between one and three crab.
“Crabbing in the ocean this time of year can be very productive, but also dangerous because of wind, sea and bar conditions,” Ford said.
Crabbing success is often best during the slack tide at high tide or low tide when crabs are looking for food.
Crabbing is open year round in estuaries, on beaches, and off jetties, but the ocean is closed to recreational crabbing from Oct. 16 through Nov. 30
Newport’s bay has numerous areas and docks from which to go crabbing.
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