By VALERIE MELLEMA
The marketing campaigns say Ocean Shores is “Washington’s best kept secret” – and they may be right. But if you’re a Washington resident and just have to find the nearest ocean, then you probably already know the Ocean Shores area is the easiest shoreline to reach from the Seattle area.
The area is comprised of a stretch of coastal beaches including Ocean Shores, Ocean City, Copalis Beach, Seabrook, Pacific Beach, and Moclips. In many places, the area still is a subtle hidden gem that has been unspoiled by large-scale development or huge crowds.
Of course the main draw here is the Pacific Ocean and the windswept beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see. Much of the experience here is simply getting out and feeling the breeze of the ocean hitting you, or marveling at Nature’s power and fury when you visit in blustery weather. At other times, the ocean seems tranquil and somehow energizing to the human spirit.
Here is a breakdown of what you can expect when you visit:
Ocean Shores is the most southern part of this region and is located on a 6,000-acre peninsula on the central Pacific Coast. You will find it about 75 miles west of Olympia, Washington’s capital city. There are about six miles of public beaches here, all of which are clean and well cared for. At the very top of the peninsula, you will find the Ocean Shores Marina and, seasonally, a passenger ferry that will take you to the fishing village of Westport. In this region, the east and northern portions are basically residential areas, and prime locations because of their view to Bowerman Basin, as well as the Olympic Mountain Range and of course Mt. Rainer.
Ocean Shores is a tourism area and some three million people visit each year to get their fix of the Pacific Ocean. While you will find many water sport activities to enjoy, you will also find a number of hotels and lodging choices, dining facilities, and other service needs.
A trip to Ocean City is one that offers a historic element to your trip. The city was first platted in 1925 and, before the community even began digging the first road, the lots were readily purchased. People built many of the first homes here from wood that came in off the beach. This is one of the most historic of all of these North Beach communities – in fact, Lt. Whidbey, who was one of Vancouver’s men, first discovered the area in 1792.
Today, the city is a unique cultural melting pot. It features beautiful beaches and, in particular, clam digging, which has become very popular in this area. As more and more learn about these areas, summer vacationing families and couples make this one of their prime stops each year.
Several motels, as well as other lodging options are available here. You will find a few quaint locations to grab a meal, but this is a small city so the selection will be minimal.
Copalis Beach is at the very northern end of the largest razor clam bed known in the world. These are a particular favorite of locals and visitors come from far and wide to obtain them. During the harvest season, both vacationers and commercial companies come in and nearly triple the 350 year-round residents.
As you might suspect, the beaches here also are a big draw. You can drive your car on the sand and you can often see hulls of ships that were driven on shore here by fierce Pacific storms. Accommodations and dining are available in this area too.
Seabrook is a rural area, though there is talk of having it fully developed. Currently, the community sits along a small main street with many paths and trails that take you out into the wilderness. Quaint shops and unpretentious accommodations are located in the area.
Pacific Beach and Moclips
Pacific Beach and Moclips are centrally located for the attractions in this area, and are 18 miles north of Oceans Shores on SR 109, on the Pacific Ocean. It’s easy to take day trips from here to Lake Quinault or Kalaloch or head south to Ocean Shores and enjoy a pleasant drive along the coast.
Pacific Beach may be best known for the Pacific Beach State Park, a 10-acre camping park with 2,300 feet of ocean shoreline and spectacular ocean views.
Moclips grew up as a small Quinault Indian village, located on the river named Moclips and was first established in 1905 when the Northern Pacific Railroad was finished. The Moclips Beach Hotel later opened, and quickly the location became a unique Pacific Coast outlet with hotels, candy stores and restaurants. Today, you can visit and see many of the ruins from this time frame, but you can also enjoy the new resorts and hotels.
The journey from Ocean Shores to Moclips is one filled with excitement, rural and urban. It is an opportunity to enjoy some of the best beaches and qualities of life that the Pacific Ocean brings to those living in this region of Washington State.
Clam-digging near Ocean Shores, photo courtesy of Richard Cherry Photography (www.rcphoto.org)