This is an awesome video that shares a perspective of the Oregon Coast most people do not see. Exploring the tide pool zones of the rocky shores are an excellent family fun activity. There is always so much life to observe, however once the water rises up and the waves start crashing all kinds of life start to pop out from their hiding places. Crabs, starfish, sea anemone’s sculpins and other little fishes all make the tidal zone their homes.
North Coast Boat Launch Facilities
Boating is a popular form outdoor recreation in the Pacific Northwest, whether going out for some fishing and crabbing or just to enjoy the sites, boat ramps along the coast are well used.
The following boat launch facilities will put in you in the area to catch fish and crabs whether you are fishing the infamous Bouy 10 area of the Columbia river estuary or adventuring in the Bays from Nehalem, Tillamook, and Nestucca, the large bays in the North Coast offer tremendously healthy fisheries. If you like to just go for a boat ride and look at the native wildlife swimming around in the water and flying above then these locations will also serve your need of finding a place to enjoy the wildlife of the Oregon Coast.
View Oregon North Coast Boat Ramps in a full screen map
The Warrenton marina is a popular boat launch location near the popular Buoy 10 fishery on the Columbia. The salmon fishing is some of the best in the area with the most popular time of year being in August.
The Johns Day Ramp on the Columbia River near Astoria is a place to launch your boat and have access to the incredible fishery of the Columbia. Regardless of what you are going after this can be a good place to drop your boat into the water and go enjoy the river.
The Nehalem Landing County Boat Launch is perfect for launching into the Nehalem river / bay right near the city of Nehalem this launch is well maintained and cleaned by the Tillamook County and is great facility for the area.
The Nehalem Bay state park is a nice option on the ocean side of the bay. The park iteself is a popular place to hang out with the family and has lots of camping options and a great beach.
Launch right near the mouth of the pacific on Nehalem Bay at the Jetty Fishery Mariana and RV Park. This is a good place to take the kids if you are looking to expose them to crabbing and the bay wildlife, but do not have a boat, there are rentals and other accommodations on site.
Port of Garibaldi has a large marina area adjacent and if you are looking for a place to moor a large fishing boat then this is the spot. Regular guided fishing and crabbing trips operate out of the Port of Garibaldi and if you are looking for a chance of pursuing fish out in the Pacific ocean a summer time Tuna or Rockfish trip can be a lot of fun with the large charter boats operating from the Port of Garibaldi.
Sollie Smith is a great Wilson River boat launch located just off Wilson River Loop. The Wilson river is a well known salmon and steel head fishery and fishing from a drift boat is one of the best ways to target these fish. Boaters use this ramp as both a put in and pull out location depending on the stretch of river that they are fishing.
Mills Bridge is another drift boat launch location on the Wilson River that many boaters use to start there drift to pursue the fish in the river.
Memaloose Point Boat Launch is a county run boat ramp that is on the other side of the Tillamook bay from the Port of Garibaldi. This launch ramp is great for accessing other fishing holes in Tillamook bay and is easy to reach just being outside the town of Tillamook.
Netarts Bay Marina is available for putting your boat into Netarts bay. People enjoy crabbing in Netarts bay and due to being a tad further than Tillamook locations can be a little less busy when lots of people are at the coast from the Portland area.
Little Nestucca Boat Launch is at the mouth of the Little Nestucca into the Nestucca Bay. This area receives a substantial run of Salmon and some steel head as well and so is a favorite destination for many angers along the Oregon Coast.
The best tasting clam in Oregon
The razor clam that inhabits the Oregon beaches is known as Siliqua Patula, it is a very large and delicious clam that can be dug out of the sand during a low tide. This clam is found from all the way north in Alaska down to the middle of California and prefers to live in the beaches with large deposits of sand. If you wake up early in the morning in Seaside on a low tide you will be amazed at how many people are out digging up one of the most delicious dinners the coast has to offer. People can find them during the lowest tides of each cycle when the surf is relatively calm and the clam “shows” meaning that you can see either a small hole, a dimple in the sand, or a disturbance in the receding water from each wave that washes to shore. The razor clam is best when prepared simply with just a light batter and fried, but also can be used in clam chowder, clam fritters, seafood stews and other dishes.
Razor clams are known for moving quickly in the very soft sand with their large digger foot and so once you begin to disturb the area move quickly until you have reached it and pulled it out of the hole. always check your local regulations for the proper season to be able to go clamming and make sure that you know the limit that can be harvested. Steep fines are associated with clam diggers that over harvest or take during out of season. Always have a separate bag for holding the clams for every digger in your party as it is a big no no to put all your clams in one bag or to dig for someone else.
When to go clam Digging?
The most popular times to pursue these bivalves is during a low tide. Review the tide tables and look for times that the tide is going to be a low minus tide and preferably the lower minus tides of the month. Clam diggers should plan to get to the beach an hour and half before the low tide to start looking for the signs of clams. Sometimes it can take only a matter of minutes to dig a limit of these tasty morsels while other days it may take up to an hour or more if the surf is rougher and the clams are deeper and not showing as easily.
What do you need to find clams?
There are two primary tools for digging razor clams. The clam shovel and the clam gun. Of course you can always just use your hands, but you will likely quickly be reminded why these creatures have the word razor in their name. The sharp and thin shells can cut your fingers deep very easily. Due to the soft nature of the shells it is very important to be careful while digging with a shovel as it is very easy to crack or cut them in half, while the bits and pieces are still very edible, they will no longer retain the same impressive look on the plate that a full clam has, so be careful with whatever tool you choose.
The Clam Shovel, is a short handed shovel to mid torso length at the longest and has a very flat blade that is about 9 – 11 inches in depth. It is important when digging with a shovel to position the blade about 4 inches away from the clam show, between the hole and the ocean. Go straight down and barely lift back with the handle and pull the sand straight up. This will remove the dirt without breaking the shovel, for a clam that is deeper you may need to repeat the process a couple of times. These clams move quickly in the wet sand so be ready to reach down and grab them before they disappear into the liquefied sand of the surf.
The clam gun is designed to quickly reach the clam and pull it out in one full motion. the gun will be a circular tube with handles and a vent hole. Simple place the gun over the show, drive it all the way down, put your finger over the air vent and pull up. Make sure to lift with your legs and not your back otherwise you can quickly wear yourself out and even cause an injury to yourself. The wet sand grips the gun tightly and can require some serious pulling on to get moving. Repeat if necessary to reach the shellfish.
Here is how to do it
Getting it done with the shovel. Use the butt end to pound the sand and find the shows and then dig up your prize.
The clam gun makes it quick and easy for anyone to dig a clam in the sand.
Cleaning the Clams
There is lots of ways to clean a razor clam. Some people like to slightly boil them and then quickly place them in ice water to stop the cooking process. This can make the shell removal easier, but risks cooking the meat. I prefer to remove the shells with a oyster knife and then continue to process them, removing the nasty parts of the gut and intestine and cleaning the siphons so that the meat is ready to be panko crusted and fried or chopped up into the best chowder meat ever.
The standard fried razor clam recipe
Located in the middle of the quiet town of Wheeler, Oregon the Tsunami Grill is one of the best options for lunch or dinner in the local area. Situated right on the Nehalem bay / river, they have seating options inside and out, with amazing views of the bay estuary. Wheeler is a small town in between Nehalem and Rockaway Beach, along the Oregon Coast highway. There are several antique shops in the town to browse with cool and unique stuff. The public boat launch for the town of wheeler is next door and stays busy during the spring and fall salmon runs making for always something to watch when sitting out on the deck enjoying a cold one. There is a good chance to watch an angler catch a chinook or coho salmon while eating out on the back deck overlooking the water as the Tsuanami Bar Grill is located right in front of a known fish holding spot.
Serving traditional American favorites like a cheeseburgers and coast specialties like clam chowder make it a perfect fit for most groups. If you like Asian inspired food than certainly consider checking out the rice and BBQ pork dish, it is phenomenal and comes with a side of veggies. The spring rolls and spicy dipping sauce are a personal favorite, especially when you just need a little appetizer to snack on with a glass of beer or wine.
The pricing is reasonable for a place on the coast with a great view and good food. The service is excellent, always kept our drinks full and food came out at an acceptable pace.
Grab a drink in the bar or sit out on the patio deck looking at the river and just relax.
If you have driven along the Oregon coast highway between Manzanita and Cannon Beach then you have gone past the parking areas for Short Sand beach. The parking lot is often filled with cars and so if you do not get here early in the day you will likely be parking off on the side of the road and walking back towards the head of the trail. A popular surfing cove is located at Short Sands beach and during optimal surfing weather and surf conditions, it can be one of the busiest places on the North Coast. Lots of surfers will be out riding the waves, but even more people will just be hanging out on the beach watching the action in the water.
Despite all the visitors there are many trails and unless you are going to get in the water the extra traffic should not stop you from being able to enjoy this peaceful and beautiful place.
There are several trails that branch off from the main path, so make sure to check out the trail maps near the parking lot and down near the beach before venturing off. The creek that runs through the forestland along the trails is large enough that it splits off part of the beach. The main trail leads to the large section of the beach at the north section of the cove and will have more people. The Sitka Spruce trail heads over to connect with the South Beach access point and requires crossing over a cable bridge over a large creek. The south beach access puts you in the sand south of the creek so you can explore that side of the beach and view the impressive cliff that jut out into the ocean making the southern boundary of Short Sand beach. The various trails running through the forest are easy to moderate in difficulty, must due to the consistent moisture of the soil, good hiking shoes are a must as the trail can get muddy and slippery at certain places.
This is one of the most popular places to surf on the entire Oregon Coast, the cove is protected from lots of the weather on the coast and has the right underwater features that generate waves big enough for people to ride. Due to the limited number of awesome spots to surf on the coast, Short Sand beach should not be your first choice if looking for a place to go surf perch fishing. While the fishing can be really good in the cove, you might not make many friends chucking large weights and hooks in between the surfers.
A street view map of the Short Sands Beach trail parking and access:
The Nehalem state park is located just north of the Nehalem jetty where the river enters the Pacific Ocean. To access the state park you need to turn off highway 101 just outside of the town of Nehalem before reaching Manzanita. The state park is a day use fee park, so everyone that parks a car in the lot is required to pay the $5 fee unless you have a state park permit.
The best feature of the park is the massive number beach access points. Unlike other sections of the Oregon there is no homes built out onto the Nehalem spit and so the views from the sand dunes hiking into the beach are really impressive. The line between the Oregon coast forest and the Oregon sandy beaches is so defined here, it is really impressive.
The park is home to several facilities for people that like to horseback ride can use. Including large number of trails and stalls for stable a horse for a temporary time during the day.
This specific state park also has a 2 lane boat ramp and is a nice alternative to the public county ramp located further up the river or the often overcrowded private ramps located right next to the mouth of the bay. Nehalem Bay is well known for its spring and fall runs of salmon and exceptional crabbing at certain times of year. The bay is also loaded with several species of clams that can be harvested during the low tides. The mud flats that line the shores of the bay side of the state park are perfect places to go for a dig. Cockles, Gapers, and Purple Varnish are the most plentiful ones that most people find.
This park gets a lot of seasonal use so expect to not be alone during the peak season or during really nice weather days on the weekend year round.
Remember to get your day use permit, the park is regularly patrolled by the local law enforcement. Here is a list of all the park fees on the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Website: Nehalem Bay State Park fees
Looking for a great place on the Oregon Coast for a camping trip, this might be the right destination for your family. The huge beach is an amazing playground for summer fun and the bay side offers opportunities for clamming, crabbing, boating and fishing. There is something for everyone that likes the Oregon Coast outdoors at the Nehalem Bay State Park. This park even has a primitive airport camp something not found in the other large camping sites nearby.
- Approximately 265 electrical sites with water
- 18 yurts (two pet friendly)
- Hot showers and flush toilets
- Horse camp with 17 primitive sites
- Hiker/biker camp
- Airport camp with primitive fly-in sites
- RV dump station
- Meeting hall
Located right on the Oregon coast highway in between Nehalem Oregon and the turn off to downtown Manzanita, the Bunk House restaurant is a cozy place to get breakfast, lunch, or, dinner. The decor is laid back with an obvious family friendly, local focus. During the cooler months the wood stove in the corner of the dining area is kicking out copious amounts of warm. Water served in jelly jars with handles and local art work decorates the walls.
We went for breakfast, which is advertised as an all day options. All the standard Americann breakfast options are available on the menu. The omelettes come with a couple of large pancakes,they make a great Denver omelette. The presentation of the food is lacking and so if you are looking for a fine dining experience this is not the place, but the servers were excellent and kept drinks full and deliver the food with a smile.
After paying for our breakfast we noticed a tray of very large cinnamon rolls had just come out of the oven. At $2.50 a piece these are certainly an extra to consider. We grabbed one for the road and parked and ate it overlooking the ocean view from Neahakanie mountain.
Overall the Bunk House delivers good food at a fair price and a great option for an early morning meal if the wait at Wanda’s Cafe down the road is too long or the drive to cannon beach too far.