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What You're Missing Out on in May on the Oregon Coast

Published 05/06/2018 at 5:55 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection Staff

What You're Missing Out in May on the Oregon Coast

(Oregon Coast) – Two months in particular tend to be woefully neglected on the Oregon coast, and one is happening right now. May – along with April, actually – can have some of the most interesting action on the beaches: between the extreme low tides, the end of the stormy season and its beachcombing delights, weather that seems to be resplendent yet secret, and startlingly low lodging rates. On top of it all, Killer whales can really make, well, make a splash right about now.

May is an especially delectable time because of these aspects. Many of the heads of the local visitor centers agree on this and would like to see the word get out.

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One of the big secrets of the Oregon coast is that the weekend just before Memorial Weekend can be astoundingly dead. Nearly deserted. Yet interestingly enough, the big weekend gets uncomfortably crammed with traffic and people. Mother’s Day certainly sees a big spike, but aside from that, tourism experts say the real treasures happen just before the holiday weekend.

Jon Rahl, director of the Seaside Visitors Bureau, said this time of year is definitely underutilized.

“It’s definitely a value season for visitors and with a little bit of planning, folks can sneak in a short excursion or staycation for a rate they won’t find once the school year ends,” Rahl said. “Minus tides during the morning and early afternoon in mid-May and late-May are also perfect times to visit and you could strike gold with a nice 65-70 degree day.”

By this point in spring, the sporadic – but fascinating – stormy action of April has disappeared and May calms considerably. More warm weather days pop up, then June often sees a return to more rainy patterns.

“I think in general, May has been a time of year where travel to the coast slows down,” Rahl said. “We’re well past all of the spring break travel but families are nearing the end of the school year and tend to hold tight on any travel before schools close up for the summer.”

Great weather days get a little more publicity now in the digital age, and thus tourism entities are saying May is getting a little more attention – but not much.

Nan Devlin, head of the Tillamook Coast group, which is essentially the visitor center for all of Tillamook County, agreed that weather is the important factor. She’s also noticed the weekend before Memorial Weekend can be exceptionally slow, but she says there’s an uptick if the weather is good.

People are making plans for the big weekend – and she partially blames the annual May slowdown on the recent run of spring breaks in March and April.

“However, it might also be that because March and April had several weeks of spring break between Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho (all big visitors here), that families are waiting for Memorial Day weekend for a getaway,” Devlin said. “Spring has been growing quite a bit for tourism dollars.”

Rahl said the visitor numbers are comparable to October.

“Just like the fall season, great weather tends to drive people out here regardless of the day of the week, but it typically presents travelers with tremendous value on hotels,” he said. “And the crowds are much lower than you’ll find by the end of June or early July.” (See the lodging deals)

Another big feature of this time of year is the increased visibility of Orcas. Killer whales often show up in April, usually lingering through May. This tends to be more on the central coast, but they do make appearances up north around Cannon Beach and Seaside. Essentially, this is an unusual pod of Orcas that scientists don’t know much about, except that they’re here to gobble up baby gray whales as they continue their migration north with their mothers.

As of May 6, there are many sightings of killer whales on the north Oregon coast, with the bulk coming from around the wreck of the Peter Iredale.

Also see What They Don't Tell You About Oregon Coast's Spring; Video.

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