Depoe Bay is one of those places that we stumbled upon without realizing what it had to offer. Two years ago, we were in Florence, some 60-odd miles south of Depoe Bay. We were relaxing on the veranda of our hotel room when suddenly a whale’s spout came into view. Needless to say, we were on our feet with excitement. As it turns out, our Gray friend was heading north, to Depoe Bay. A pod of Grays call Depoe Bay home 10 months out of the year. Your chances of a whale encounter, however brief, is fairly good. Oh, but I’m getting ahead of myself once more . . . we still have the beautiful drive.
The Journey from Tillamook to Depoe Bay
Leaving Tillamook behind, we pushed on southward to our final destination, Depoe Bay. Our travels took us to three points of interest. I wish we had more time to explore each one. Oh, but already I am planning our next trip up the Oregon Coast.
Pacific City was first established in 1893; then known as Ocean Park. The town changed its name in 1909 to Pacific City to avoid confusion with Washington’s Ocean Park. It began as a thriving fishing port. By the 1920s, due to over fishing and smaller profits, Pacific City reinvented itself as a Tourist Destination.
Now I could be wrong, but every time we’ve been there two things are happening. First, it’s windy. And that wind blows sand everywhere. The streets are covered in a fine layer of sand. The parking lots are covered in sand. Everywhere you look, there is sand.
This unincorporated community along the Pacific Coast Highway has less than 100 residences. What is most interesting to note about the people who call Neskowin home is that the average annual income for a woman is over twice that of a man. That might explain why woman outnumber men. Neskowin is home to two natural landmarks. One is a rare sighting, usually visible in the winter during low tide, the other is an “island” that you can reach on foot.
The Neskowin Ghost Forest is the remnants of a spruce forest some 2,000 years old. This ghostly forest was but an urban myth, rarely seen, until turbulent storms swept away much of the sands in the winter of 1997. Since then, during a low tide, the Ghost Forest of Neskowin reveals itself. The lowest tides are during the winter months from January to March each year. When we passed through Neskowin, it was neither winter nor low tide. But had it been, the forest would have been amazing to see.
Neskowin is famous for romance, or so the legend goes. Sometime in the 19th Century a sailor named Charley Gage fell madly in love with Della Page, the daughter of a homesteading family along Neskowin Creek. As the story goes, these star-crossed lovers headed out to a basalt sea stack above the Pacific Ocean. It was there that our sailor popped the question. So thrilled was Della’s mother, that she named the prominent landmark “Proposal Rock”, a name that has stuck through the years.
Not every couple who venture out to Proposal Rock have a happy ending. The rock or island can be reached at low tide. Reports indicate that a handful of lovers have been trapped upon the rock when waves and the tide rolls in. The most tragic was in December of 2008; when a large rogue wave swept onto the beach. In its retreat, a young prospective bride was taken out to sea.
Believe it or not, if you were to look at a map of the Oregon Coast before 1965, you would find that Lincoln City did not exist. You’d see Taft, Nelscott, Cutler City, Delake, Oceanlake and Wecoma Beach, but no Lincoln City. These were all tiny adjacent communities along Highway 101, Oregon’s String of Pearls. In 1965, the communities joined together to create Lincoln City, with the busy highway as its Main Street. Everyone agreed that naming the newly formed city after one of the existing towns would be too controversial and might even derail their efforts, so a contest was created for the school children to come up with a new name. While the city has no direct connection to Abraham Lincoln, his names was chosen as the winning name.
Lincoln City has miles of sandy beach, prim for Kite Flying, beach combing and tide pool searching.
During high tides, Lincoln City is also home to the worlds shortest river.
While Lincoln City is a beautiful place to visit, I would not recommend driving down “Main Street” on a Friday afternoon.
At long last, we have reached our final stop for the day. Depoe Bay is tiny, boasting the world’s smallest natural harbor. The 6-acre harbor was carved by the sea out of the volcanic rock that makes this area so rough. Every little town in America has a back-story to tell. In the 1800s, a Native American of the Tutuni Tribe named Charlie worked at a nearby military train depot. As part of the Dawes Act of 1887, Charlie was given an allotment of land in 1894. For legal purposes, Charley was given the last name Depot. The family later changed the spelling to “DePoe”, and as the area grew, the town that sprang up around the tiny bay became Depoe Bay.
Depoe Bay is widely known as the Whale Watching Capital of the Oregon Coast. While the best way to watch for whales is to take a charter boat out beyond the harbor, spotting whales while strolling through town is not unheard of. A huge sea wall runs the length of the downtown area, giving visitors an unobstructed view of the ocean while shopping or dining or just strolling through town.
This was our second time visiting Depoe Bay, and we had our “favorite” restaurants to pick from. Personally, I was hoping for the Sea Hag. Their Oscar Halibut is to die for. My argument was if it’s good enough for Robin Williams, it was good enough for me. After five days of eating in seafood joints, they were looking for something different. Besides, the Sea Hag will still be there next time through.
So Mexican it was. My guys couldn’t wait for some good Mexican Food. They love the food, the Margaritas and the views. While Mazatlan is a chain, their food isn’t cookie-cutter dining.
As with most lodging along the Oregon Coast, views from your room are well worth the money. There’s something so special about kicking off your shoes, sitting on your veranda and just soaking it all in. Especially after a margarita or two.
Of course, no trip to the Oregon Coast can be complete without an awesome Sunset.
It was time to get some well-needed sleep.
We were hunting whales in the morning. Hope you join us . . .