Our family made a quick beach-run a few weeks ago. It was a good way to beat the summer heat of the Valley. Here's a map that shows you a few of our favorite spots in Newport:
Another great experience in Hawaii: Sea Kayaking!
Our family loves a good canoe ride, but sea kayaking was a new adventure. Like a good hike, I wanted our outing to have a destination. A bit of research led me to Kailua Sailboards and Kayaks. Just a few blocks from the beach, this outfit was able to supply everything we needed to hit the sea water safely.
Kailua is located on the east side of Oahu and is a cutie of a beach town. We rented kayaks and then rolled them to the water’s edge with use of a handcart. I saw some folks complain about this process in online reviews, but we didn’t find it a problem. You can launch right on the beach or in a small, side stream. We chose the side stream so that we could ‘practice’ in the calm waters. This allowed my 8 year-old to get a feel for the boat and understand our plan for the day.
Then, we headed out to Flat Island. The half-mile trip was quick and completely safe. The island is a bird sanctuary, so visitors need to purchase a day-permit to land. The $3 purchase was totally worth it, as my boys enjoyed exploring the rocky landscape all around the island. My youngest and I took photos of the nearby islands, beach, and waves, while my oldest son and husband paddled out a bit further to catch some waves and ride their kayak in the surf.
Mokulua Island is nearby (an additional mile away), but we decided instead to head back to Kailua Beach Park to have lunch and then return to Flat Island a second time. The boys were more relaxed the second time, as the trip was familiar. Then, after returning the kayaks, we enjoyed the calm waters at Kailua for the rest of the day. Soft sand, calm waves, and shade. Hooray!
Our family had the great fortune of celebrating the end of 2013 in the great state of Hawaii. The amazing trip was filled with non-stop water sports and I was in constant amazement of how eager the boys were to take on each new challenge. I’ll blog about some of our highlights over the next few weeks, but want to start here with one of our best experiences: Surfing!
The picture from above is of boogie boards that the boys enjoyed at Waimanalo Beach. We rented a home just down the block and so were able to ride the waves almost every day we were on Oahu. For bigger waves and bigger boards, we had the help of the Hawaiian Fire Surf School.
In planning this trip, our whole family was eager to try surfing, but (as a mother) pretty much every fiber of my being was anxious. I expected my uber-athletic husband to excel. I was fairly certain I could catch-on with some practice. I was hopeful my eleven year old (a fairly good swimmer) would enjoy the challenge. I was terribly worried my eight year old (beginning swimmer) would be in danger.
While my husband teases me for having the uncanny ability to evaluate any situation and immediately find all the possible ways it could kill us, I just like to think of myself as being prepared. I mean... it’s not that I think the worst case scenario will happen. I just think it’s wise to be completely prepared for the worst case scenario. So... when it comes to surfing that means one thing: I need EMT, water-rescue, professionals in the water with my dear children at all times. Simple.
Luckily, my research led me to Noah and Peter of Hawaiian Fire. Surfing lessons with these pros brought the safety I craved. It also brought fun, good memories, and a morning that ended with me tearing-up at the beautiful sight of my babies catching a wave.
My eleven year-old did not only enjoy the challenge, he conquered it. I was grateful for Noah’s vigilant eyes and encouraging words. My son lists surfing as his #1 favorite Hawaii experience.
My eight year-old had a private lesson with Peter. On the same surf board, I saw the two paddle out past the crowd to the largest waves. Once positioned, Peter would help my son stand up on the board and the two would sail gently along the wave -- like a picture-perfect commercial spot for the Hawaii tourism board. My (sometimes) anxious boy looked incredibly relaxed and was grinning from ear to ear. After more than an hour on the waves, his first words when back on the beach: “That was awesome!” Peter also smiled, saying, “He didn’t even get his hair wet.” Right then and there I wanted to kiss Peter. I really did.
Without hesitation, I recommend Hawaiian Fire for moms, dads, kids, and families of all ages. I can’t possibly express how thrilled I was by this family experience. I’m not sure if we’ll ever return to Hawaii, but if we do, this activity is #1 on the to-do list. We will hit the waves again, but only with Hawaiian Fire.
My children's school spent the last days of the school year at
Camp Westwind (just north of Lincoln City). A good friend described Westwind as the Opal Creek of the Oregon Coast. I can only describe it as my favorite outdoor school excperience of all time! With amazing location and facilities, Westwind was perfect for our large group. It has it all: beach, river, sea, forest, tidepools, meadows, hiking trails, campfires, and hot showers!
Labor Day Weekend brought our last summer outing as a family.
It also turned out to be one of our favorites.
Visiting the wildly popular Fort Stevens State Park, we found four reasons to visit this neck of the woods – again and again and again!
1) Deluxe Cabins
Just this summer, Ft. Stevens State Park opened eleven new cabins for business and they are SPECTACULAR! There are firm beds for 5 people. There is a refrigerator, microwave, and beautiful gas grill. There is a flush toilet, a hot shower, and a towel rack. And my very, very favorite….there is a darling covered porch that overlooks your picnic table, fire pit and paved trails. As someone who does not like to camp, but loves state parks: Our deluxe cabin was pure heaven!
The Fort Stevens State Park Campsites sit near the Historical Area – but Battery Russell is an old military ‘fort’ that sits vacant between the two. This abandoned concrete bunker is open to the public and makes for a spooky self-tour. Visiting with another family, we decided to play sardines, and with flashlights in hand, explored every nook and cranny this relic has to offer. While my nine year-old and I preferred the open spaces, my six year-old relished in the darkest, coolest, quietest crannies that could be found. The result: the greatest game of family sardines ever!
3) Bike Trails
Seven miles of paved and independent bike trails were our true inspiration on this trip. We covered every inch of these trails and some of it twice! While most of the trails are smooth sailing, be warned that there are a few hills where huffing and puffing seem to be required. Luckily (or not) my boys were then delighted by the slope down the other side of these hills. Quotes from my youngest include: “Wheeeeeeeee!” “I’m going 500 miles per hour!” “I can do this with my eyes closed!” “Again! Again! Again!” Even on the busiest of a Labor Day weekend, we found the trails wide open with little traffic.
While the Wreck of the Peter Iredale seems to be a big draw at the beach at Fort Stevens, we ventured up closer to the South Jetty. The beach access at Parking Lot A welcomes you to what may be the most beautiful stretch in northern Oregon. Almost deserted in comparison to the lower beach, we enjoyed hours of picnicking, wave jumping and sand castle building. I don’t remember the last time I enjoyed the Oregon beach this way –--- perhaps that 80’ weather helped. Note to self: September visits are the very best!
Plain and simple - a good vacation means good food.
Here are a few spots along the Oregon Coast that
our family gives the two thumbs up:
Mo’s – It’s not really a trip to the coast unless you’ve had some chowder and garlic bread. I just love that each kiddie meal comes with a toy shark too! Even my shellfish-allergy-boy can have dinner and still get into the coastline spirit. Get a Newport coupon here!
Local Ocean – A new find for us in Newport. It sits across from Pier 5 and can get really hopping around 6:30pm. Go early!
Tidal Raves – the only place I can recommend in Depot Bay - I don't think we'll ever drive through town again without stopping. The house salad is so yummy it is worth the trip alone. Bonus: the windows provide an excellent view of the bay for whale watching. During lunch we had a perfect view of three!
The Obery crew hit the beach this weekend – and found lots of fun things to do. Here’s just a few we recommend:
While kiddo #1 loved walking through a tunnel surrounded by sharks, kiddo #2 like seeing sea lions being fed, the hubby was totally impressed with the octopus, and I loved the touch and feel pools where you could touch the animals. Go early, plan to stay most the day, and take this coupon with you!
And don't forget .. right next store is the Hatfield Marine Science Center. Admission is by donation only and the nature walk behind the center is worth the time.
Newport Old Bayfront-
I love this part of Newport; It’s ten blocks of pure adventure. First watch the fish be cleaned and fileted right off the boat – just behind Mo’s Annex. Then just another block down watch shrimp being cooked, cleaned, and packed in the processing plant. Keep on going and you’ll see the sea lions who have taken over the dock next at Pier 1 and just a bit further, you can walk down Pier 5 and see the big fishing boats and buy crab right from the dock.
Yaquina Bay Lighthouse-
This State Park has two things going for it:
1) The view of the Yaquina Bay bridge and jetty!
This quick stop off Hwy 101 gives you a bird’s eye view of
the bay and it is quite a sight.
2) Sand dunes galore!
Climbing over the rise of the dune, my husband exclaimed,
“It looks like a desert!” The dunes do seem to go on and on but it was
the fog that kept us from seeing it end and the ocean begin. Either way…
my boys loved running down the rolling sand hills.
A Newport favorite for tidepools can be found at Nye Beach. A great walkway is just north of the ‘Elizabeth Inn’. The walkway is a memorial to Vietnam Vets and has artwork, benches, and a nice sloped ramp. My kiddos and I saw starfish, sea anenomes, snails, mussels, and crabs.
Please remember tidepool etiquette as well: Avoid stepping on the animals and plants. If you peek under a rock, put it back. Also, never move an animal forcefully, you may tear off its feet or squeeze its organs.Check the schedule here to see when to go.
Depot Bay -
Lots of folks drive through this small town and don’t stop unless they can find a parking spot right along the seawall, but trust me it’s worth the time. Just turn up the hill and you’ll find plenty of public parking one block back. This is a great place to see whales and the handy ranger station right at the mouth of the harbor provides binoculars.
Fogarty Beach -
This was one of my favorite places as a child and my kiddos love it now too. To reach the beach take the north entrance and walk under the Hwy 101 bridge to find a beach protected from wind and with fabulous climbing rocks! No swimming here, the waves are rough and the entry steep, but the sand is like fine worn gravel which comes out of your shoes with ease when you are done with that friendly game of volleyball.
On the Go