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ABOUT THE WASHINGTON COAST
For an experience that is about wonderment more than happenings, the Washington Coast is the place to explore. From the confluence of the Columbia with the Pacific Ocean, to the tip of the Olympic Peninsula, the concentration is on wildlife rather than population. It is an area contiguous with forests and waterways, interrupted from time to time by unpretentious towns and cities.
The offshore waters and the plentiful rivers and lakes play host to fishermen, simple or elaborate. Whether it's an ocean charter, a small fishing boat on a
lake, or just a pole tilted against a stone breakwater, it's a sporting experience with ample rewards. Concealed beneath these waters are Sturgeon,
Salmon, Tuna and more. For those who want some sand between their toes and don't mind digging for dinner, the beaches offer Razor Clams, in season. The tradition is old. The first Razor Clamming School existed on the Copalis River.
The solitude of kayaking lends itself well to touring here. Following the water trails permits closer inspection of the many birds that make this their home, whether permanent or transient. Paddling is the only way to see Long Island. Situated in pristine Willapa Bay, it is sanctuary to one of the few remaining stands of old-growth cedar.
Further north, along the Pacific Coast of the Olympic Peninsula, is the Olympic Coast Marine Sanctuary, 3310 Square miles of some of the most diverse marine mammal life in North America. This rich water is a critical link in the Pacific Flyway, supporting bird migration along the coast of North and South America.
This is the environment that has historically provided abundantly for human life. The native peoples- Quinalt, Chinook, Quilente, Hoh, and Makah- built their cultures and traditions around natural materials, traveling the waters, fishing and gathering, building boats and homes. Because these were permanent communities, a history was developed which is still evident today. When Lewis and Clark completed their journey to the Pacific Ocean, they were bemused to find a community of Chinook Indians, some wearing sailor's breeches, apparently practiced in trading with Europeans. English and Spanish ships had been sailing into the mouth of the Columbia River for decades before the Corps of Discovery left St. Louis, making the native people very sophisticated merchants.
The more recent history includes choice area museums in Ilwaco and South Bend, the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at Fort Canby State Park. The Pacific County Court House, in South Bend, is a fine example of Second Renaissance Revival architecture. It's stained glass dome is 29 feet in diameter. Some of the four lighthouses scattered along the shore, from Ilwaco to Grays Harbor, are open to touring.
If kite flying required a home, it would find one on the Washington coast. The almost constant breeze lends itself to the art. The various kite festivals staged here are among some of the most popular in the nation, if not the world. Other arts, though, are just as comfortable in these beautiful surroundings and artists of all types make their homes here. There are art shops and galleries enough to please the senses, and Jazz festivals providing toe-tapping entertainment. The Culinary arts are well represented by restaurants that rival Seattle and Portland for the quality of their cuisine.
When you come to the Coast of Washington, prepare yourself for adventures mild and wild, historic and natural, quietly awe inspiring. And, when you travel Coastal Washington, always plan to stay for dinner!
-by Michal Kelly Miller
-photos by Wayne O'Neil © PHOTO'NEIL (Photos 1 & 4: Representing the Long Beach area)
Where to stay on Washington's Coast!
You may now be asking yourself where to go in Washington. There are three areas that
NWcoast.com focuses on along the Washington Coast. Each area seems to have its niche.
Ocean Shores offers a fun family vacation
as the city hosts several different activities.
Whether you are interested in miniature golf, horseback riding, a ferry
ride across the harbor, bowling, movies or more, the kids will LOVE IT! If
being on the beach is your thing, you will appreciate the oceanfront
hotels that line the ocean.
Westport has a few nice museums and a marina made for fishing, you will find
several charter services
that will be happy to accommodate your trip. You can
take the ferry across the harbor to visit Ocean Shores as well. You will find several options for
hotel accommodations in this city. Both Ocean
Shores and Westport are terrific options for those coming from the Seattle area.
On the southwestern side of Washington is the
Long Beach Peninsula. This area
is made up of several small cities that together make a wonderful community
and vacation. There are two local lighthouses and several interpretive centers
to visit here. This area is a favorite during the 4th of July, and has a
number of terrific events throughout the year. Staying with one of the
Bed and Breakfasts
in the Long Beach area is highly recommended. There are also some nice
hotel options in this city,
but you will find that they are more spread out and less commercial than the Ocean Shores area.
Use the map towards the top of this page to select your destination, or you can visit a
more detailed map of the Washington Coast!