When I am seeking a tranquil retreat I always head to a strip of land that is barely one and a half miles wide and stretches nearly twenty-eight miles long. The vast Pacific Ocean sits on its west, the Willapa Bay flanks the east side and it is tucked in by the treacherous Columbia River to its south. The world calls it the Long Beach Peninsula but I refer to it as my “Secret Lair”.
Although it is a haven to many kite flyers, fishermen, clam diggers, birdwatchers and beachgoers alike, my favorite peninsula gems are the North Head Lighthouse where I am likely to be found braving the wind to photograph the sunset and historic Oysterville where I can safely step back in time to the late 1800s.
The terrain is wildly different on various parts of the peninsula which adds to its mystique. Most of the beaches are rural, covered with beach grass yet if you venture south to Beard’s Hollow the landscape begins to turn rocky with coves and long forgotten driftwood washed up on the shoreline. The northeastern side of the peninsula offers a national wildlife refuge and the Willapa Bay that never fails to fascinate onlookers with its drastic tide changes. I love to watch flat-bottomed oyster boats cruise along one minute and then see vast sparse mudflats the next. This aquatic symphony gets played out all day and night; it is so mesmerizing that one is likely to forget to venture off and explore the rest of the peninsula.
The Long Beach Peninsula was the furthest north that the Lewis and Clark’s Expedition traveled and when I explore its natural treasures, it is easy to understand why they never felt tempted to venture past here.