Visit Ocean Shores This Winter!
John Kruse, January 03, 2022
Most people don’t consider a trip to Ocean Shores and the beach during the winter months but there are actually all sorts of good reasons to do so!
BEACH TIME: Any day at the beach is a good day! There is something about the rhythmic crashing of waves, beachcombing, flying a kite, or just watching the sunset over a bonfire that will draw you to the beach no matter the time of year.
RAZOR CLAMMING: Another reason to go to Ocean Shores, especially this year, is the opportunity to go razor clamming. The clams are abundant here at Copalis Beach and they are bigger than usual too. As a matter of fact, Dan Ayres, the Coastal Shellfish Manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, says this season is the best he’s ever seen. The daily limit is the first 15 clams you dig. You can find out more about razor clamming to include what days it’s open, when low tides occur and even how to go about doing it at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfishing-regulations/razor-clams
WILDLIFE WATCHING: Wildlife is abundant around Ocean Shores, and very visible during the winter months. A good number of bald eagles spend the winter here and can often be seen perched on logs or driftwood near the beach. Blacktail deer are thick around here, and can be easily seen in residential areas where they forage on the abundant brush that grows here. The deer, which are not hunted in the city, are not tame but are relatively unafraid of humans. There’s marine life to be seen as well. Gray whales can often be spotted near the mouth of Grays Harbor and harbor seals will sometimes haul out on the beach or just watch you from the water as you stroll along the sand.
HIKING: Speaking of strolling, there are hikes to be had beyond the sandy beaches bordering the Pacific Ocean. One of my favorites is the four-mile hike around Damon Point at south end of Ocean Shores. In addition to seeing those seals and whales, you’ll enjoy great views of Grays Harbor and of Westport which lies just to the south across the harbor. You can also take in the sight of private or commercial fishing boats heading over the bar into the open ocean or larger vessels like freighters heading to the marine terminals around Aberdeen. If you like agates you’ll also find plenty of those on the west side of Damon Point.
STORM WATCHING: Watching the fury of the sea on a stormy day from a safe place with a cup of coffee in hand is always a fun and awe-inspiring experience. You can certainly do this from any of the beachfront hotels in town but if you want a true wave crashing experience head to the North Jetty and watch the waves smash against the rocks there. If you venture out onto the jetty or adjacent beach on a stormy day beware of sneaker waves which have the potential of taking you out to sea if you are not careful.
A VIST TO THE COASTAL INTERPRETIVE CENTER: If you visit Ocean Shores during the winter months, there’s a good chance you’ll have at least one day where it’s raining hard and the wind is blowing sideways. Never fear though, the Coastal Interpretive Center, located at the south end of Ocean Shores near the marina, is a great place to spend an hour or two. The Center, run as a non-profit organization, recently updated a number of exhibits that now offer audio, video and hands on experiences for visitors. The indoor exhibits tell the tale of Ocean Shores and the surrounding area to include its human history, the wildlife found here as well as on the Olympic Peninsula, the unique habitat of the area, as well as information about beachcombing and shipwrecks. Exhibits of note include one featuring the new Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and an exhibit area full of activities just for the kids. The Coastal Interpretive Center is open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 AM to 4 PM. If you are there during the week and the weather is nice you can also check out the outdoor exhibits which include artifacts from shipwrecks and some unique fishing buoys that washed ashore from Japan. You can find out more information about this center that is definitely worth a visit at https://interpretivecenter.org/
SEAFOOD: One more reason to visit Ocean Shores is the great seafood available here! Emily’s at the Quinault Beach Resort and Casino offers dining with oceanfront views. In the main part of town, Bennett’s Fish Shack, Mike’s Seafood and the Lighthouse are all popular options while the new Oyhut Bay Grill at the south end of Ocean Shores offers another, albeit pricier, alternative.
John Kruse – www.northwesternoutdoors.com and www.americaoutdoorsradio.com
1. A blacktail deer at Ocean Shores – J. Kruse
2. This exhibit at the Coastal Interpretive Center is about Mountain Goats on the Olympic Peninsula – J. Kruse