Area Activities: Kite Flying, Bird-Watching & Clamming
Active vacations are the norm here on the Long Beach Peninsula, with plenty of activities to keep you busy. However, you won't be doing much swimming in the ocean. Although it gets warm enough in summer to lie on the beach, the waters never warm up much. Add to this the unpredictable currents, riptides, undertows, and heavy surf, and you have an ocean that's just not safe for swimming.
Instead of swimming, the beach's number-one activity is kite flying. Strong winds blow year-round across the Long Beach Peninsula, and with 28 miles of beach, you won't have to worry about kite-eating trees. You'll find several kite shops in Long Beach. Another very popular Long Beach activity is beachcombing. The most sought-after treasures are hand-blown-glass fishing floats used by Japanese fishermen.
Beach access is available up and down the peninsula, but the best beaches are at the peninsula's various state parks. The beaches of Cape Disappointment State Park, at the south end of the peninsula, are the most dramatic, while those at Leadbetter Point State Park, at the north end of the peninsula, are the most secluded. Just north of Ocean Park, there is beach access at the small Pacific Pines State Park, and south of Ocean Park, additional beach access at the west section of Loomis Lake State Park. This latter park is named for a popular fishing lake in the park's east section.
If you've ever dreamed of riding a horse down the beach, you can make your dream come true here in Long Beach. On Sid Snyder Drive, just in from the beach, you'll find both Skippers Equestrian Center (tel. 360/642-3676) and Back Country Wilderness Outfitters (tel. 360/642-2576; www.backcountryoutfit.com). A 1-hour ride will cost you $20.
Walking the dunes is a favorite Long Beach pastime. Between 17th Street South and 16th Street North, a pleasant 2-mile paved stretch of the Discovery Trail parallels the beach. The trail winds through grassy dunes that separate the town of Long Beach from the stretch of sand for which the town is named. For a half-mile, the Discovery Trail parallels an elevated boardwalk that provides views of the beach and ocean over the tops of the dunes. In celebration of the Lewis and Clark bicentennial in 2005, the trail was extended from Long Beach south to Ilwaco, a distance of 8 miles. Along the stretch of trail in Long Beach are monuments that were erected to commemorate Lewis and Clark's long-ago visit to this area: a whale skeleton, a basalt column, and a bronze statue of the gnarled tree on which Lewis and Clark carved their names.
If you'd just like to get away from the crowds and find your own piece of isolated shoreline, head to Leadbetter Point at the peninsula's northern tip. Here you'll find both Leadbetter Point State Park Natural Area and a portion of the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge Complex (tel. 360/484-3482; www.fws.gov/pacific/refuges/field/WA_willapa.htm). This area is well known for its variety of birds, and more than 100 species have been seen, including the snowy plover that nests at the point. Because the plovers nest on the sand, a portion of the point is closed to all visitors from March through September. However, you can still hike the trails, use the beach, and explore the marshes.
At Ilwaco, charter boats will take you out fishing for salmon, halibut, sturgeon, or bottom fish. Try Pacific Salmon Charters (tel. 800/831-2695 or 360/642-3466; www.pacificsalmoncharters.com) or Coho Charters (tel. 800/339-2646; www.cohocharters.com).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.