Weekend Along the Oregon Coast: Newport to Depoe Bay.
“Do you swallow, or do you chew?” That was the ongoing debate on how to eat an oyster as we drove towards Yaquina Bay for our weekend of seafood galore. Our plans? To eat as many oysters as we can during our three day trip along the Oregon Coast, from Newport to Depoe Bay.
For anyone who lives inland, the Ocean beckons you for a road trip. Springtime along the Oregon Coast offers the promise of migrating whale sightings, fresh, briny oysters, and rugged cliffs framing the vast blue Ocean. When winter is almost over but too rainy to enjoy winter activities, and the sun hasn’t warmed up enough to enjoy summer activities, springtime is the ideal time to visit the Oregon Coast. It’s nice when the weather is warm and sunny but equally lovely watching the storms come in. The coast is a perfect solution when Mother Nature is unpredictable. This stretch of the beach has some of the best spots for watching gray whales as they migrate up and down the Pacific Coast. There is no shortage of roadway turn-offs to view the blue ocean meeting the blue sky.
Piles of oysters frame the tiny building built on stilts that juts out over Yaquina Bay. Inside, a large chalkboard showing various oysters offered, with many already sold out. We debated with the owner, which oyster was the best. The big ones with a lot of meat or the smaller sweeter oysters? “Well, are you going to BBQ the oysters?” That was our plan. We chose the meatier oysters to grill on our camp stove.
He asked if we needed an oyster knife? No, we are going to let it pop open naturally, but just in case, he gave us a demonstration of shucking. Not even spilling the juicy brine, he popped open the shells, making it look so easy. We were salivating just looking at the curved edges of the slick oyster meat. With our new stash in the cooler, we headed down the road along Yaquina Bay Road into Newport.
We had heard about this place, so it was our first stop when we pulled into the popular coastal town of Newport. South Beach Market is a dilapidated looking building worn by time with once cheery colors bleached out by the sun. After our order, we sat outside on the red-painted picnic tables, bundled up in our wind jackets while the sun basked our faces waiting for our order.
Fresh Dungeness Crab sandwich on sourdough. A pile of fresh crab on thick spongey (wonder bread-ish) sourdough with light mayo. Oysters shooters (the cocktail sauce is the best I have ever had, the touch of horseradish adds a kick to it.) Chunks of halibut in beer batter with French fries and tangy tartar sauce. Add copious amounts of malt vinegar and more salt for a fish and chip that begs us to come back again.
Located at Devil’s Punchbowl State Park on the edge of the beautiful Pacific Ocean. Mo’s West has been open in tiny Otter Rock, Oregon, since 1972. Today it is still owned and operated by Mo’s family. Open seasonally, March to September.
Pure comfort food for cold, blustery days. Chowder with a pat of butter, simple crackers, toast, and cold beer to wash it down. Watch the wind pick up the waves through the cafe window and glimpse the surface of the water for puffs of blow spouts coming out of the water, these are telltale signs of migrating whales.
Wine and a view! Flying Dutchman Winery has both. Try the wine flight of 2oz pours while devouring the gorgeous view of blue ocean framed by the evergreen trees in the backyard and then head to the back to slowly savor another libation of red.
Like summer camp, climbing to the top bunk like a 12-year-old and hanging on for dear life. During the night, thankful for the headlight as I half haphazardly climb down, not to step on my snoring friend. I listen to the continuous sound of snoring as I make my way from the heated comfort of the yurt to the brightly lit bathroom. In the morning, we stumble out to the bright day to start our cowboy coffee. Coffee percolating and munching on chocolate Entenmann’s donuts. The perfect combination before moving onto a more healthy and sustainable breakfast.
We wanted a camping adventure without having to pitch a tent. Yurts at Beverly Beach State Park fit the bill. Electricity, heat, and beds that are not on the ground. Still rustic enough where you have to bring your sleeping bag but comfortable accommodations to make camping easy.
Kite Flying at Beverly Beach
Beverly Beach’s windy days are known to be a flying kite haven. Strangers came to help hold the kite and keep the long tails from tangling up. For a brief moment, Tanner’s kite flew, and we ran watching the red triangle whip through the sky.
BBQ Oysters from Oregon Oyster Farms
Time to BBQ up some oysters. Our portable grill broke, so I had to improvise on the camping stove (which I do not recommend.)
This naturally curved large bowl has a gap that is open to the Pacific Ocean. You can watch the water fill in at high tide or hike near Devils Punch Bowl at low tide. Also a perfect sport for watching whale migrations or around the corner, surfers.
Less windy, this inlet has a slow-moving creek that meets up with the Ocean. Park in the parking lot and then walk through the woods, under the bridge following the stream until you meet the Ocean. It was such a beautiful sight watching the waves crash against the rocks that we came back again the next day and brought our camping chairs to watch the crashing waves.
The 1872 Yaquina Head Lighthouse that first lit up in 1873 is still operational with LED bulbs replacing the oil burning wicks. One of the West coast’s largest nesting colonies of Common Murres nests in from the of the lighthouse. You can also spot the migration path of the Gray Whale swimming out in the distance.
Cobble Beach from Yaquina Head Lighthouse
From the lighthouse, walk down the steep wooden stairs to Cobble Beach to look at the tide pools. There is little sand. Instead, covering the beach is smooth, round stones made of basalt rock. We couldn’t believe they would bring in all of these rocks and wondered why until the volunteer ranger explained the Columbia River Basalt lave flow covered this region about 14 million years ago. Over the years, erosion brought these rocks down from the beachside cliffs. The stones become smooth and polished from the continual back and forth of the tides.
Besides tide pools, you also see the anemones, starfish, urchins, look out for harbor seals poking their heads out of the waves.
A little hidden gem, most people miss the pullout to this secret beach. With few parking spaces, walk down a trail flanked with trees on each side until it opens up to the Pacific Coast. You practically have the whole beach to yourself.
Depoe Bay is the whale-watching capital of the Northwest. Grey whales make their homes off Depoe Bay from March through December. The view from the seawall that runs the length of downtown lets you view the smallest natural navigable harbor in the world.
Back to Beverly Beach
Sunset approaching, we walk quickly to the walkway that goes under the highway and emerges to the beach where you can view Yaquina Head Lighthouse off in the distance while watching the sunset into the ocean. Now we know why people flock to Beverly Beach.
Whale Watching at Depoe Bay
Due to COVID-19 stay at home directive we are asked to stay at home. But don’t worry, you can still watch the seasonal whale watching here. Oregon Parks is posting a video everyday.