Ocean Shores and Westport are Beaches Like No Other
By William May
Published: 08/01/09 Topics: Comments: 0
A truth in advertising disclaimer is required first.
Although I haven't lived in the area in almost 40 years, I must admit that I did grew up in several towns on the Washington Coast. Up until 4th grade the town of Raymond was where my parents lived along with my two brothers and I. After that we moved to Aberdeen the "Big" town some 25 miles up the Coast and it was here that I became aware of a place called Ocean Shores.
Both Raymond and Aberdeen are located on major waterways in from the Pacific Ocean. Raymond on the pristine Willapa Bay and Aberdeen on the equally large Grays Harbor.
From Raymond the drive is an idyllic 25 miles to the villages of Tokeland, Grayland and the Westport Harbor. BeachyDay.com
Located on the ocean south of Grays Harbor and area designate the South Beach for easy categorization. Later in high school my buddies and I would drive the byways of the South Beaches looking for Seattle girls who we were told, were anxious to meet local boys.
Less developed than the North Beaches of the Ocean Shores area, these little towns boast a real sea side ambiance and miles of undisturbed beaches. In recent years Westport has become a surfing Mecca. Having grown up in the area and later come to love the warm climes of Hawaii I haven't seen any good reason to venture out in to 50 degree water but surfing has been a boom for the area
Ocean shores is another 25 miles due west of Aberdeen on a pleasant and easy road to drive. BytheseaBythesea.com
In grade school, living just east of Aberdeen my friends and I loved to go up to the highway on Friday afternoon to watch all the crazy tourists from Seattle flock to the beaches. It is through this single road that all travelers must venture to reach the Westport and Ocean Shores destinations.
This was before a four lane highway was built and traffic was stop and go, bumper to bumper all afternoon. The only bad part was even our parents couldn't drive the five miles into Aberdeen in less than about an hour. We were relegated to make the trip late other times, except Sunday of course when the problem repeated itself in reverse.
Ocean Shores, Oyhut, Moclips, Copalis and Pacific Beach compromise the North Beaches with each town differing from the next and all scattered with lodging, camping, restaurants and little shops.
So what was it that all those Seattleites loved about the North and South Beaches so much they would sit in traffic for hours to reach their destination? The answer to that has changed over the years.
Once known for its huge Salmon Charter industry, Westport has seen that business taper off due to over-fishing and governmental limitations. But adventurous visitors can still catch Salmon and Halibut. Or they can opt for whale watching trips now a mainstay of the economy.
On a recent afternoon, sitting on the deck of one of the prestigious new homes at Cohasset Beach in Westport (CohassetBeachCottages.com) I was started to see a majestic gray whale breach repeatedly only 50 yards off shore. I am used to seeing humpback whales in Hawaii but this bugger was bigger and much closer.
Later that day over at the Westport At the Sea Resort I was engaged in a lengthy conversation. As it started we noticed a huge rush of small birds flying just off the Coast headed south. It is hard to explain how many birds there were. Perhaps a thousand at a time rushed past our view of the ocean. Perhaps a thousand every 2-3 seconds.
As our conversation continued, the bird flow never stopped. When we left a half hour later it was still continuing. Deep in the heart of Grays Harbor, just north of Westport, is Bowerman Basin a stopping place for many species of birds on their migration from as far north as the Arctic to the warmer south.
Having grown up in the area I knew something of Bowerman Basin, and anyone who watched the nature channel knows that bird colonies can be enormous. But not until that meeting did I understand there could really be millions of birds passing through my child-hood neighborhood. Did we see a million that day? It is entirely possible.
The South Beaches have the usual beach visitor attractions like restaurants, go-carts and fudge shops. But the best reason to visit there is to enjoy the ocean. In summer it moderates the heat and in winter, throngs of visitors come to watch the storms and get closer to nature. And, I might add, away from the hordes of city dwellers.
The North Beaches are somewhat the same as the South with many visitor attractions but Ocean Shores, in particular is more developed. In the 1960's some ambitious developers bought the entire peninsula that runs south between the Pacific and Grays Harbor. To the existent beauty they added canals running north and South, lakes and a harbor. In the center of town they erected resort like hotels and a golf course. Check out (OceanShores.com)
Although not a golfer myself, I can tell you that my golfer friends love the place. Not too pretentious and apparently a lot of fun to play. A convention center was added in recent years and the city has plans for updating the golf course.
In the center of Ocean Shores is a kind of retail center where you can buy souvenirs and some fancy shops like Fling Cats Flyingcats.com) where you can enjoy a pleasant stroll among sophisticated goods. Plus you will find a wide variety of eats, activities and adventures.
But remember people come to Ocean Shores for the Beaches. Unlike most places in the world, visitors are allowed to drive their cars down the beach which is more firm than that fluffy white sand places you see in travel brochures. And the beach runs for miles north and south. Plenty of room for bon fires, kit-flying and lazing away the time.
On a recent trip to both Westport and Ocean Shores, allowing myself a little bit of time to look around and reflect on my youth I gained a better appreciation for the place. The air is different I think. Crisp and clean and altogether enjoyable. With more time I think I could sit on the deck and devour a lot of books without an ounce of guilt.
Author: William May – Manager, Sunspot Vacation Rentals
Blog #: 0115 – 08/01/09