This is Part II of our Oregon salmon fishing trip. Part I is more about the fishing in Tillamook Bay with Northwest Orgeon fishing guide, Bob Rees. This page is about the entire vacation for those who want more information about beach rentals, restaurant reviews and Oregon coast activities beyond fishing. This is how you convince your spouse to go on a fishing trip, disguised as an Oregon Coast vacation – you go fishing, they enjoy the beach! 😉
Oregon Coast Vacation Rental
After looking how much hotel rooms were along the coast, we searched out a beach rental that was not much more in price per night than a hotel room, could sleep 6 people and had a full kitchen, washer and dryer, fireplace, outdoor patio and only five blocks from the beach in Manzanita. We liked the fact that if we did catch fish on Saturday and Sunday, we could freeze it before packing it in the coolor for the flight back home.
Being able to cook and eat meals in saved on restaurant costs as well. But do know that groceries in these small towns are priced a little high and your best best is to stop at the Fred Meyer in Tillamook or Astoria, depending which direction you are coming from, and buy the bulk of your groceries at the bigger city grocery stores. We rented the “Ocean Castle” from Manzanita Beach Getaway Rentals and was overall pleased with our stay there. It was clean, comfortable and in a secluded, quiet neighborhood. It was also nice they had a lock box at the house for the key. They give you the code so you don’t have to check-in or out with anyone. The only thing that was lacking was better cookware and a grill for the deck. When we brought home our fresh salmon we would have liked to grill it outside, but apparently the owner took it away because a previous guest burned a spot on the deck.
Oregon Coast Restaurants
Either our standards are too high or restaurant owners in tourist areas don’t care and know they can rip you off. Why on earth does fish-n-chips cost $20 for fish that is caught so extremely local? I understand why halibut, scallops, crab, etc. costs $$/lb in Utah, but why does it cost the same when you’re right on the Oregon coast?
Whenever we are near the coast, we try to eat as much fresh seafood as we can. So when eating out, we prefer to go to seafood restaurants. After a lot of searching on the web looking for local seafood places near Manzanita without too many bad reviews, we decided to give Ecola Seafood in Cannon Beach a try. There was another restaurant in Cannon Beach that was supposed to be good, but again fish-n-chips were $25. It had much nicer ambiance than Ecola, but we always will choose better food over atmosphere.
Ecola is a combination seafood market and restaurant. Nothing special as far as seating goes. And the prices weren’t exactly cheap, but at least lower than every other place we checked out with good reviews. I ordered a halibut fish taco ($13.95) which I later found out to be more like a fish burrito. It was good, but I would have like to have more fish and less coleslaw on it, especially for $14. Dan had the fried Captain’s Seafood Platter ($16.95 lunch price) that came with a couple of jumbo prawns, oysters, halibut and scallops. Everything tasted alright, but nothing spectacular except for the scallops which were some of the best we’ve eaten. The onion rings as a side ($4.95) were good but not $5 good. Our opinion is you’re better off buying seafood here and cooking it yourself rather than eating at the restaurant.
After getting our fishing licenses at the Wheeler Marina, we decided to give the Nehalem Bay Sunset Grill a try right next door. They have outdoor seating which looks right over the bay and arriving at sunset made for a really nice view. Our entrees all came with clam chowder which was really good. Dan called it clam chowder gravy which in his eyes was a good thing. It was extra thick, more like a thick stew than soup. I ordered the the “Steam Pot” which had local clams, mussels, and dungeness crab steamed together with smoked sausage, mushrooms, onions and corn on the cob in a cajun broth. It was good, but the spicy broth kind of overpowered the taste of the seafood. Dan likes his fried fish and so chose the halibut fish-n-chips ($13). Good, but again something he could do better cooking it at home.
While waiting for Dan to come in from the afternoon fishing session, John and I grabbed a quick bite to eat at at the Fisherman’s Korner at the Garibaldi Marina. Service was quick, food was just okay, overpriced, not much else to say. After Dan came in from fishing, soaking wet and cold, he got a bowl of clam chowder at the Troller Restaurant & Lounge which tasted like it came out of a can. No one greeted us at the door, had to wait awhile for service and the atmosphere was dive-ish. So if you plan on eating at any of the restaurants at the Garibaldi Marina, don’t.
Our last stop eating out was in Sunset Beach. I read some good reviews about Bell Buoy of Seaside and was looking to eat some fresh Dungeness crab before we left. This restaurant sits next to their market store where they sell canned and fresh seafood. Reviews said some of the best seafood ever and also reasonable prices. I was hopeful for lower prices since they actually sold seafood and the place was one step up above a dive, but alas I must dream on. The crab plate was $18 which consisted of 1 crab, 2 pieces of garlic cheese toast and a mini plastic cup of coleslaw. The crab was good, but if we had the time we would have rented crab traps from the marina or eaten the ones Bob would have caught if the waters weren’t so rough. Next time.
Oregon Coast Weather
Expect it to rain every day if you plan a Oregon coast vacation. We were lucky for two of the days when it was partly sunny for most of the day. You could tell this was a rarity because the locals were ecstatic that such a phenomenon was occurring. It was September and the water temperature was in the low 50s and the air temperature was in the low 60s so unless you want to get fully outfitted in a wetsuit from head to toe, there will not be a lot of water activities taking place. Even in the summer the water temps aren’t much higher and the air temps don’t get much higher than 70 so Florida coast it is not. But just FYI, you can still rent wetsuits, boogie boards, surfboards and take surfing lessons all year round.
Oregon Coast Activities
Tillamook Cheese Factory Tour
While traveling up the coast to Manzanita, stopped in Tillamook and took the self-guided tour at the Tillamook Cheese Factory. The place was packed even on a Thursday afternoon…but we know why – it’s for the free cheese samples of course! The tour takes you to a second level where you can overlook workers cutting and packaging cheese. There are some historical kiosks to see how things were started back in the day, but let’s go back downstairs and get some more cheese samples. There was cubed samples of squeeky cheese, mild cheddar, white cheddar, aged sharp cheddar, Monterrey-jack, and garlic-chili cheddar. Let’s go through one more time! Then they dump you at unsurprisingly, into the everything Tillamook store. They even have ice cream they make from Tillamook cow milk. Oh, that reminds me. If you plan on staying in Tillamook, don’t be surprised that nearly everywhere you go it smells like cow manure. I don’t know if it was because of the rain, but every time we stepped out of the car in Tillamook, that was the first noticeable odor permeating the air.
Oregon Coast Beaches and State Park Hikes
We did take a couple walks along the beach and in the coastal forest. Cannon Beach is the location of Haystack Rock where tufted puffins breed during the summer months. We were there during low tide and had a good look at starfish, mussels, sea anemones around the smaller rock piles along the beach. We even saw a peregrine falcon soaring around Haystack Rock just messing with the gulls. A very scenic place at sunset for sure.
We also hiked the Cape Falcon trail in Oswald West State Park which is 2 miles out to a nice overlook of the ocean, coastline and hidden Short Sands Beach. Luckily it was sunny and not foggy, otherwise it wouldn’t have been much of a overlook. It’s an easy hike with a well groomed trail, but even though it was a sunny day, the ground was still wet and slippery in places so be sure to wear good traction footwear. There are also nearby trails to Short Sands Beach which is one of the most secluded beaches on the West Coast.
North Nehalem Fish Hatchery
If you are in this area, you should take the scenic drive up Hwy 53 off of Hwy 101 about 12 miles to the North Nehalem Fish Hatchery. The Hatchery is on the North Nehalem River and raises Chinook, Coho, Steelhead and Rainbow trout. There are open raceways to view the fish up close and a nice loop trail through the forest to the river and Umbrella Falls.
Nehalem Bay Winery
On the way back from the Hatchery we stopped at the Nehalem Bay Winery just off Hwy 53, a couple of miles from the 101. They have a tasting room where you can sample most of their wines. Nothing formal, just walk in the door and start tasting. When we were there, they had about 10 different bottles to sample from Riesling, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Gewurztraminer and sweet wines like peach, plum and blackberry. We bought a bottle of blackberry which was perfect for us – not too sweet, but tasted like fresh-picked blackberries.
Would We Return to the Oregon Coast?
Overall, we enjoyed our Oregon coast vacation. It would have been a little better if we had more sunny days than rainy. I’m sure the fishing would have been more enjoyable as well if the sun was out, or at least not raining the entire time, and not such big swells. As with any vacation, a little longer stay would have been better because there were so many other things we didn’t get to do like visit more beaches, go on more hikes, rent a boat from the marina to go crabbing, etc.. We probably will return again, if nothing else, just to go salmon fishing so we can fill up another cooler of salmon fillets! 🙂
Oregon Fishing – Details of our fishing trip with an Oregon fishing guide.
Oregon Coast Vacations – Oregon Coast Visitors Bureau.