Updated: Two Sides of an Oregon Coast Bay: Mountains and Sands of Manzanita, Rockaway
Published 07/13/2015 at 6:04 PM PDT
(Manzanita, Oregon) – Flanking the sprawling Nehalem Bay sit two impressive wonders of the Oregon coast. Manzanita, to the north, presents a unique mix of atmosphere of natural surprises, and it even includes a mountain of its own. On the southern side of the bay is Rockaway Beach with its lazy, laidback feel and a nearly endless stretch of calming sands.
Between the two, the Nehalem Bay also hosts the small wonders of Wheeler and Nehalem, but that's another story.
The fun starts where the compass points upwards, at Manzanita.
This tiny town on the north Oregon coast is an engaging one, with loads of surprises lurking in its various corners. Ancient legends of crashed sailing ships and rumors of hidden treasure mix with murky fir trees, a somewhat hip, almost urban sense of architectural aesthetics and a backwoodsy sense of sorts, making this burgh a place you don't want to leave.
Hit the beach to find yourself beneath the awe-inspiring gaze of Neahkahnie Mountain, and explore miles and miles of pristine sand that end up at the extraordinary wildlife watching opportunities of the Nehalem Bay Spit. These sands are nothing short of inviting.
Or go on a sizable hike, and wander some 1600 feet up the trail from 101 to the top of Neahkahnie to catch some unforgettable views. The trail connects with other trails going all the way over the mountain to its northern face, ending up at Arch Cape.
This part of the coast – just north of Manzanita – also hosts other trails and jaw-dropping discoveries. Near the northernmost entrance to the Neahkahnie Mountain trail sits a large patch of gravel, right on 101. From here, there's a mile-long trail down to Short Sands Beach, which then, in turn, takes you up again to a trail atop Cape Falcon.
Closer to the gravel patch area, another trail branches off to a wild, weird spot where more mountainous rocky structures sit, such as the mysterious Cube Rock and the towering Pulpit Rock. There are also a few other hidden spots here (see the Forbidden Cliffs part of the Manzanita virtual tour).
On the other side of Nehalem Bay, Rockaway Beach is a long stretch of town that has a rustic, rugged and slightly Victorian vibe in many spots. Many of the homes here look like they were built back in the late 1900's when the town was a resort bustling with wealthy and middle class Portlanders. But these have often been gussied up in interesting colors or decorated with wacky sea flotsam.
Rockaway Beach tries to be commercial and touristy, but it doesn't always succeed - thankfully. It still retains a sleepy, rugged quality in spite of the copious lodging and a few oddball, curio shops. The main attraction is still the beach, with about seven miles trailing from the tip of the bay's southern jetty to close to Garibaldi.
The most recognizable landmark on Highway 101 is the main park and access, with the big red caboose catching the eye. This now houses the town's visitor center. The parking lot also has restrooms and a viewing area. During the summer, this beach has a giant volleyball net set up. There are also a myriad of stores nearby.
The other big landmark isn't on land at all. Rockaway Beach is famous for the Twin Rocks - the double rock arches laying just a ways offshore. You check these out with pay binoculars from this main wayside.
Behind Rockaway Beach's downtown, on the roads closest to the beach, there are numerous cabins for rent.
Other highlights in the town include Manhattan Beach, at its very northern end. If you're heading south out of Wheeler, you can recognize it as the first beach access you see as the beach re-emerges from behind the trees of the bay and the road begins to descend.
There's parking here, and over a large dune you'll find a log-covered beach that soon gives way to enormous amounts of sand. And not far from there, the north jetty of Nehalem Bay is accessible, where you can crawl up the huge boulders and amble around for a while, catching glimpses of the sea making its way into Nehalem Bay.
More on the area at the Rockaway Beach, Nehalem Bay, Manzanita Virtual Tour, Map.
More About Manzanita, Rockaway, Wheeler Lodging.....
More About Oregon Coast Restaurants, Dining.....
LATEST Related Oregon Coast Articles
Back to Oregon Coast
Contact Advertise on BeachConnection.net