Digging The Beach Vibe – Manzanita, OR

On the dunes at Nehalem Bay
On the dunes at Nehalem Bay

I teased you in the last post about the awesome spot we’re currently camped, so it’s about time I spill the beans. For the past 7 days or so we’ve been hanging at Nehalem Bay State Park, a lovely park that sits on a 3-mile sand-spit just south of Manzanita, OR. It’s a mere skip and a hop from our last spot, but seems so very, very different.

Beach bounded by capes...pretty neat!
Beach bounded by capes…pretty neat!
Bike-trail at Nehalem Bay State Park
Bike-trail on the bay-side at Nehalem Bay State Park

As you drive south from Astoria you pass through rather open landscape with lots of beach-towns and pretty sand. It’s all quite lovely, but just a few miles further the view changes. Suddenly the coast buckles into dramatic capes and you’re faced with steep and rugged cliffs intermixed with sleepy bays. It’s in the very center of one of these bays, on a long sand-spit that we’re currently camped. Our RV spot is surrounded by shore pines and only a few minutes walk over rolling dunes to a pristine 6-mile beach.

And what a beach it is! Once you top the grassy dunes and look-out to sea you’re rewarded with a long beach with sand so fine sand it squeaks when you walk (don’t you love when that happens?) bounded by dramatic capes both north and south. Plus you can toss the shoes and walk the shore from camp right into Manzanita…a totally cute downtown. Oh yeah, I can totally hang here!

Downtown Manzanita...it packs in quite a bit!
Downtown Manzanita…it packs in quite a bit!
Spa, espresso, food...oh yeah!
Spa, espresso, food…oh yeah!

We’d never actually stopped in Manzanita on our previous coastal trips. This mini-town was incorporated in 1946 and only houses around 600 permanent residents. It doesn’t look like much from the road and if you blink on 101 south you might just miss it. But if you take the time to stop and drive downtown you’ll discover quite the little community. Cool little pub (San Dune Pub -> the tacos were excellent), multiple espresso places, several restaurants, wine & tapas bar (Vino Manzanita -> very cool evening hangout), a good music scene, a golf course (= happy hubby), a spa (= happy me), even an excellent natural food store and a very respectable Friday PM Farmer’s Market. Plus pretty much all of it is paw-friendly. It’s like a smaller, more laid-back, less “discovered” version of Cannon Beach to the north. Neat little package,right?

Playing on the beach...yeah!
Playing on the beach…yeah!

Originally our plan was to spend just 4 days here, but when arrived we dug the vibe so much we immediately looked to extend our stay and…by total dumb luck…our very site was one of only two in the entire park open for the week-end. Score! Despite the massive influx of families, kids and dogs over the week-end (kiddies got out of school last week, ya know) our site has been pretty relaxed and we’ve been loving the spot. We spent several days just hanging around our little natural paradise, logged a few hikes just north at Oswald West State Park and did several outings into town with pooch.

Oh, we did do something rather foggy and rather cheesy too, but that is a story for the next post…For now, I’ll just share a few pics from our time here so you can dig the beach vibe too.

A bit 'o nosh at the pub
A bit ‘o nosh at the pub

Fine blue on a sunny day
Fine blue on a sunny day

Cool textures at low tide on the beach
Cool textures at low tide on the beach

A bit 'o color at the beach
A bit ‘o color at the beach
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    • libertatemamo says

      It really is. I can’t believe we missed this our first year on the coast. I was scared off by reports on the web of it being overgrown and a “tight” park. There are definitely a few low-hanging trees, but we had no problem navigating around. This spot is going to move right up the top of my OR Coast Fav’s.

  1. Rob says

    Nehalem Bay state park is a favorite, the NW VW camping group (Wetwesties) has gathering there every superbowl weekend.
    Plug in camping, hot showers and that great beach so close is hard to resist. Nehalem Bay is where we stayed when the Tillamook Cheese Factory was the destination (with our VW camper).

    One morning I was up early and went out to the beach with the dog, there was a bird sitting on the pole that marks the beach trail threw the dunes. As we got closer I realized the bird was pretty big, with the little dog running towards that pole I realized that the bird was big enough to take the little dog with it… I could just see myself explaining that to my wife.
    The bird flew away as ‘we’ got closer & I took a few pictures with my crappy phone camera. I was later able to identify the bird as a Golden Eagle, the first time I’d ever seen a Golden Eagle!

    • libertatemamo says

      Awesome story! LOVE the fact that you guys camp here in the winter too. Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. says

    I have always wanted to make it to the Oregon beaches…. looks like it ain’t gonna be happening this year! I appreciate you showing me what I am missing! Maybe next year!

    • libertatemamo says

      Sorry you’re not going to make it this year, but hopefully I’ll give you some good tips for when you do eventually come out.

  3. says

    Looks like a little piece of heaven. Beautiful! We definitely need to travel the Oregon coast. Thanks for sharing:) You three are having a terrific Oregon adventure.

  4. says

    We’ll be there mid-July with friends from Canada and Washington State. Even in all our years in Oregon, we have never visited that particular park or beach. Sure looking forward to it. Thanks for the tips!!

    • libertatemamo says

      You guys are in for a treat, for sure. Paul and I both agree this is possibly the nicest park we stayed at on the OR coast. It rivals Cape Blanco and Bullards Beach for our top 3.

    • libertatemamo says

      It sure is. The rangers have done a lot of work trimming trees and making it more accessible too.

  5. says

    Every time you move on I think “Oh man I would have stayed there for the whole summer…..!” Then you get to the next place and it makes sense again. We plan to vacation in Brookings next summer and then make our first road trip up to Cape Disappointment when we go fulltime the following year. Thanks for all the great info – we will un-shamefully be following in your paw/footsteps!

    • libertatemamo says

      There’s always great stuff to see on the coast. Your trip next year will be awesome! Expect some rain (and fog!), but July/Aug/Sept are usually quite lovely.


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