Summer vacation, kids are out of school, sun’s finally shining…what better place to be than the beach? The Long Beach Peninsula boasts 28 miles of wide, sandy beach…with room to roam and space to dream. This expanse of sand and surf offers many different faces from protected crescents to wind swept points set against grassy dunes or craggy cliffs.
Exploring the tide pools at Beard’s Hollow, at the south end of the beach, is a favorite pastime for families with inquisitive children. Significant negative morning tides (consult a tide table for exact times) reveal spiny sea urchins, sea cucumbers, orange and red starfish, baby mussels, crabs and more. Beach driving is permitted on the Peninsula and provides the easiest access to Beard’s Hollow; follow the beach south from the Seaview approach being cautious of soft sand.
Walking, wading, collecting shells, horseback riding, kite flying, and sandcastle building are among the other leisurely seaside pleasures. Picnicking yet another. Shelters along the ocean side of the Long Beach boardwalk as well as spots overlooking the Ilwaco Marina are ideal choices for a sumptuous outing with picnic tables and protection from ocean breezes. During the summer months, the beach between the Seaview and Long Beach’s Bolstad Street access points is closed to motorized vehicles making this area a good choice for a quiet stroll, although traffic on the beach is usually only heavy on razor clam digging days.
Picture-perfect Waikiki Beach, sheltered by the cliffs at one end and driftwood-strewn pier on the other, offers a protected area for children to play in the sand and wade. Swimming at this and other beaches on the Peninsula is not recommended, as the currents created at the confluence of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean are at best unpredictable. The beach is located approximately 300 yards from the information booth at Cape Disappointment State Park. From the driftwood lined side of this sandy crescent look for the signature view of the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. Follow the road along the pier to Benson Beach to experience the mighty Pacific surf, windswept dunes and a distant view of the North Head Lighthouse.
Leadbetter Point and the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge offer two different beach experiences. Quietly take the short walk to Willapa Bay and look for the great blue heron that fish there. Watch for other common and uncommon birds while proceeding up the beach. For those looking for a longer hike, continue on the Yellow Trail through a grassy area and across the point to the ocean. Although the trail may be wet in areas, the flora is unique and worth the trek. The trail ends at the ocean beach dotted with a treasure of sun-bleached sand dollars. While another trail leads back to the parking area it is easier to retrace the Yellow Trail to the bay, the heron and parking area.
For more information on the beaches, beach access points and shellfish gathering, please contact the Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau toll free at 1-800-451-2542 or access the Peninsula’s website at www.funbeach.com.