The Top Ten Beaches of the Pacific Northwest - Page 2
8. Neskowin Beach, Oregon
Few beach communities remain as unspoiled as Neskowin Beach. Families built vacation homes here in the 1920s and '30s, and there has been amazingly little development since. There are plenty of beach cottages to rent, with sprawling porches that afford in-your-face ocean views. The little town of Neskowin has a general store, restaurant, and picturesque cottages. The most memorable feature of the beach is Proposal Rock, a rocky formation separated from land by a shallow creek. This tree-topped island has tunnel-like trails that open up to spectacular ocean views. It's a great place to explore and enjoy magnificent, secluded sunsets. The five miles of sandy beach are framed by the Little Nestucca River on the north and the rugged cliffs of Cascade Head to the South. At Nestucca Bay, canoe and kayak through the estuary or cycle the Cascade Head bike trail through spruce forests along the beach head. Kids ride bikes to the general store for popsicles while their parents relax on porches, awaiting the sunset and cocktail hour. Two low-key, nine-hole golf courses are surrounded by old-growth timber, protected wetlands, and the Nestucca Bay Wildlife Refuge.
Oregon Beach Vacation Guide
7. First Beach, La Push, Washington
Tucked into the south side of the Hoh River's outlet to the Pacific Ocean, La Push is spectacular, pristine, and an adventure hiker's paradise. On the northern border of the Quileute Indian Reservation, First Beach is known for surfing, whale-watching, swimming with seals, and mysterious-looking rock formations. James Island, a giant mass of sandstone where chiefs of the Quileute tribe are buried, sits across the water. First Beach gained cult status as the setting of Stephenie Meyer's vampire series (Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn) and Twilight: The Movie (2008). The wide, crescent-shaped beach looks out onto a city of sea stacks. You'll feel like you stepped into a postcard when the sun sets and the sky turns unbelievable shades of pink and purple. Because an Indian reservation surrounds the beach, life here is relaxed and low-key. Don't expect wireless internet—or even a phone—in your hotel room. There are a few restaurants, a surf shop, and, recently, 15 luxury cabins were built on the beach with hot tubs and fireplaces. First Beach is also the start of the Long Trail, one of the world's classic beach hikes. There are three beaches, conveniently named First, Second, and Third Beach, with well-maintained trails between them. Hikers will want to shuttle cars or arrange with the reservation for a pick-up as the trip is best done one-way.
Washington Beach Vacation Guide
6. Umpqua Dunes, Oregon
This 40-mile sandbox stretches from Florence to Coos Bay and makes up the largest expanse of dunes in North America ($30 for an annual pass or $5 for a day). The windswept mountains of sand reach 500 feet in places, then tumble down to the waters of the Pacific. Portions of the park are open to motorized vehicles, and exploration via a rental dune buggy is a popular pastime. Those on foot should hike the Umpqua Dunes Trail, with endless sand and no motorized vehicles allowed. Golf aficionados will want to head a few miles south to some of the best "Scottish Greens" this side of Glasgow. The rightly famous Sea Lion Cave will delight kids and adults alike with the giant, cartoon-like creatures. Umpqua Lighthouse State Park features a day-use area and quiet campground on the shore of the enchanting Lake Marie. For a fun alternative to tent camping, rent a cabin or yurt for the night. There are two log cabins, two rustic yurts, and six deluxe yurts (these have a bathroom, kitchenette, TV/VCR, and beds). Although the campground is rarely crowded, call in advance about yurt availability.
Oregon Beach Vacation Guide
5. Short Sands Beach/Oswald West State Park, Oregon
Located ten miles south of the posh seaside town of Cannon Beach, this small, secluded cove is a fairly well-kept local secret, and the quarter-mile hike to the beach keeps this favorite surfing spot from becoming over-crowded. Former Oregon Governor Oswald West (1911-1915), the 2,484-acre park's namesake, set aside the entire Oregon coastline for public access. Maze-like trails tunnel through the dense old-growth spruce and fern forests. The beach generally doesn't have much undertow, so it's good for beginning surfers and boogie boarders. Further out, swells can reach six to eight feet, prime real estate for more experienced surfers. The rocky cliffs of Neah-Kah-Nie Mountain bookend the sandy beach, and you can take a trail north 2.4 miles to Cape Falcon or south 3.8 miles to Neah-Kah-Nie's summit. Don't be surprised to see the herd of Roosevelt elk that roams the forest, and when walking along the trails keep an eye peeled for giant banana slugs—slippery snails sans shells. Seals, sea lions, and whales are visible offshore from both lookouts. The region is steeped in legends of shipwrecks and buried treasure and there's some evidence that Vikings paddled the coast in AD 1010. On the north end of the beach sits Oswald West State Park, with about 30 first come, first-served walk-in tent sites. Rates are $14 per site through September, and then drop to $10.
Cannon Beach Vacation Guide