Our Trip to Pacific Coast Highway
It’s day five of our trip down the Pacific Coast Highway. Before leaving the Inn at Cape Kiwanda, I stop at Stimulus Coffee and grab a latte.
Vacation or not, I have to start my day off right. The fog lightens a bit as we continue south.
Entering the central coast of Oregon, we begin to see more dramatic and more frequent views of the ocean.
While there are many small towns along the way to choose from, we choose Historic Nye Beach in Newport Oregon.
On Our Way
It has been a popular vacation spot since the late 19th century. We stroll through several shops and decide to get more coffee and try a pastry before we continue on. (As you can tell, I am kind of a coffee freak.)
We hop back in the car and head south. Thirteen miles south of Yachats, Oregon, we see Haceta Head, a beautiful lighthouse. It has a light keeper’s cottage that is currently used as a Bed and Breakfast.
Ever dreamed of staying the night right next to the lighthouse? Here is your chance. It is overcast today as I grab a photo of the lighthouse.
This makes the light stand out and I can envision what a seafarer might see.
Upon entering the southern coast of Oregon, we pull over at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park. Of the nine lighthouses in Oregon, seven are open to the public.
Umpqua is one of them. A tour is beginning when we arrive, so we decide instead to take the 1-mile hike around Marie Lake. I feel like I’m in an enchanted forest. It is beautiful.
Seeing the Kayaks
Back on the road again, we continue to see fabulous views of the ocean. We are planning to kayak tomorrow, so we stop in Port Orford to make sure we can find the dock.
We see the kayaks sitting on the dock and I try to ignore my nerves. I have never kayaked in the ocean before and this is out of my comfort zone.
On to Gold Beach, where we stay the night at Pacific Reef Hotel. This hotel is unique in that it has a large movie screen between the hotel and the ocean. We watch a documentary on Gold Beach when it gets dark.
Families can even rent small condos here. Fish tacos for dinner at the Chowda House, then off to sleep to prepare for tomorrow.
Port Orford, Oregon
Day six will begin early as we are off to Port Orford to kayak. When I first heard that we might be sea kayaking, I thought, “fun!” But that quickly changed to “Wait! What? Kayak? In the ocean!?”
I’ve kayaked in Lake Logan Martin in Alabama in JULY. In Lake Logan Martin in July, the water is about 88 degrees. There are no sharks, no crashing waves.
But Oregon? In the ocean? The air is cold and the water is about 55 degrees. I will be sitting in a kayak inches above the water and could tip over.
This is out of my comfort zone for sure. But I tell myself, I can do this. (Of course, my husband is looking forward to it.)
Kayaking with Gray Whales in Oregon
Though sitting in bed with a cup of coffee sounds so much better at six in the morning, I get myself out of bed that next day.
We meet Dave Lacey with South Coast Tours at the dock at 7:30 am. He cheerfully greets each one of us. After signing forms, he hands us wet suits, footies and life jackets.
I have brought along my jacket and my ear covers, afraid I’m going to be cold. Tyson, one of our guides, politely offers to keep my jacket in a dry bag, just in case I need it.
Our group consists of 10 kayakers plus two guides. When Dave hears of my hesitancy, he quickly suggests a tandem kayak, which eases my nerves.
South Coast Tours offers all levels of kayaking and even SUP (stand up paddling).
Our kayaks are down on the beach in an area with no crashing waves to fight through. After a quick lesson, into the water we go.
Wow! Much to my surprise, the kayaks are incredibly stable and I never once feel that we will tip over.
Dave and Tyson make sure we all feel comfortable and off we go. The water is full of bull kelp, which he says is edible.
Watching the Gray Whales Surfacing
Within minutes of being in the water, gray whales begin surfacing around us. I see two adult gray whales and a juvenile. How exciting! I am not even afraid!
Dave and Tyson are very knowledgeable about and respectful of the whales. We stop a distance away from the whales to watch them surface again and again.
It is mesmerizing and I could watch for hours.
As we continue on, we see a harbor seal sunning himself. Next is an oyster catcher and a blue heron.
I can’t believe I am down here on the water experiencing all this, instead of drinking coffee in the hotel and watching it on TV.
It is without a doubt, one of the most amazing encounters with nature I have ever had.
I am so happy that I did not allow my fear to keep me from this opportunity. South Coast Tours, thank you for helping me to truly experience life on the southern coast of Oregon. Would I go again? Absolutely!
Tips: Be willing to go outside of your comfort zone! For more ideas on places to go, lodging and culinary delights on the Oregon coast visit: https://visittheoregoncoast.com/
This is part five in our continuing series on Traveling the Pacific Coast Highway.