Polly plays at Cape Disappointment

Polly plays at Cape Disappointment

The past few days we’ve extended beyond our little beach-haven and visited the sights around us. Our RV spot is actually out on an outcropping on the very SW end of Washington. The rocky headland that is Cape Disappointment is but the tip of a long peninsula that runs like a long, narrow finger into the ocean and carries both history, quirky attractions and summer fun. Within a few hour drive you can capture it all, although it’s more fun to take your time and do it in stride. We’ve not even gotten close to seeing it all, but I figured I would give you a taste of what we’ve managed:

Map of the Long Beach Peninsula

Map of the Long Beach Peninsula

1/ Fishing & Markets At Ilwaco

Jesse's at Ilwaco

Jesse’s Fish Company at Ilwaco

The port of Ilwaco

The port of Ilwaco

There’s no doubt the history of Ilwaco is connected to the sea. Thousands of years ago the Chinook Indians lived with the sea and their cedar canoes in this very area. Today, this quiet port just east of Cape Disappointment offers no less than 25 charter boats and has at least 5 shops dedicated to canning, smoking and preserving your catch. There’s also a nice sprinkling of small restaurants, a wonderful local Heritage museum too (free on Thursdays) and a rather lovely Saturday market (mostly crafts, but a few veggies). We decided to take in the market by the port and couldn’t resist buying some locally-smoked albacore tuna that was transformed mere hours later into the most delectable tuna salad (with home-made mayonnaise) that we’ve ever eaten. Oh YUM! Most definitely worth a day.

2/ Quirky Long Beach

Walking the boardwalk at Long Beach

Walking the boardwalk at Long Beach

No-one said he was pretty, but he sure is interesting

No-one said he was pretty, but he sure is interesting

Long Beach feels like a non-stop summer carnival. It’s on the lower end of the pacific side, just north of Cape Disappointment and offers a cute, family-friendly downtown with access to the massive beach that runs all along the peninsula. Billed as the longest in the US, the beach offers over 28 miles of uninterrupted sand & waves that you can drive, bike, walk, horse-ride, paddle, surf or just gawk at. The downtown is a total beach hangout bursting with kiddie-rides, ice-cream shops and kites (in fact kites are quite the thing here with steady, constant winds and a World Kite Museum no less). But beyond the beach, the real quirkiness of Long Beach lies at Marsh’s Free Museum. This crazy little shop right on the main drag packs a ton of weird antiques and knick-knacks, the oddest of which is undoubtedly Jake The Alligator Man. He’s the mummified remains (or so it goes) of a half-alligator, half-man dwarf who is lovingly preserved and displayed at the shop. Each year on his birthday he gets out for a party where the local gals compete to be his bride. COOOOOOL! We walked the boardwalk by the beach and promenaded through town, but I definitely had the most fun at Marsh’s. Yes, I’m an odd gal, what can I say?

3/ Historic Oysterville

The lovely church at Oysterville

The lovely church at Oysterville

The drive north along the peninsula is nice, but not exactly stunning except when you turn right and head to the bay at Oysterville. Suddenly you’ve left the resort coast and entered a historic town with sleepy bay and mountain views. This place, not surprisingly, is known for oysters and one of the first things you notice are the huge mounds of shells that decorate the banks. But the other, perhaps more interesting thing are the frozen-in-time 19th century structures. The entire town may only be a few blocks wide, but eight houses, the church, the cannery and the schoolhouse are all on the National Register of Historic Places. You can visit the old church, pick-up a walking guide and perhaps grab a few oysters on the way home. A cool little spot and definitely worth the drive to see.

My heart is in this place, for sure

My heart is in this place, for sure

That’s about the limit of what we’ve managed in our short time here. There’s still a ton we haven’t seen, but we’ve had enough of a taste to enjoy the area. Out of everything we’ve experienced here my heart lies with crazy, wild Cape Disappointment. I liked the sleepy feel of Ilwaco, enjoyed the resort fun that is Long Beach, admired the history of Oysterville, but I’m in love with the end of my day by the churning waters and wild scenery at our RV spot. Despite the lack of internet, this is an astounding place that I would definitely recommend for an extended stay. I think the paws would agree too. We’re back to OR after this, but we’re very happy to have put WA on our map!

Taggart enjoys a sunning

Taggart enjoys a sunning

View of Long Beach from Bell's View at Cape Disappointment

View of Long Beach from Bell’s View at Cape Disappointment

And more goodness

A few rays of afternoon goodness

A few rays of afternoon goodness

And more goodness

And one last sunset

One last sunset

More sunning

More sunning

32 Responses to Fishing, History & Alligator-Men – Long Beach Peninsula, WA

  1. Nan and John says:

    What a neat place to be….and the photos of the beach…to die for!

  2. Mark says:

    Enjoy following you!
    (Don’t forget to colour in WA on your map.)

    • libertatemamo says:

      Yup, I’m going to update it (and go thro’ comments) as soon as we’re back and “connected” in Oregon :)
      Nina

  3. Ray and Dedie Thompson says:

    Been following along for about a year. Nice review of our area, the Long Beach peninsula.
    Beagle

  4. Lois says:

    I love the Long Beach Peninsula! So funky and fun… Long Beach, WA kinda reminds me of Pismo Beach, CA back in the 60s and early 70s. Ok, so that dated me, but I just wanted to say that I enjoy following your blog and since you’re in my “home base” area, it’s been double-fun to read your take on some of my faves. Great pics!

    • libertatemamo says:

      What a fun comparison. Long Beach definitely had that beach resort feel to it, but an “old time” feel (not a fancy new feel) if you see what I mean. So, I totally get your description. I loved the laid-back vibe there.
      Nina

  5. Jan says:

    I have had the pleasure of enjoying the campground you are in only I was tenting it. Also have bought many a oysters at Oysterville and taken beck to campsite and grilled them, oh so good. I also have walked a good portion of that beach from south to north thank goodness friend meet up at different spots. Love the kite flying around 4th July. Also a great restaurant in Oysterville opens late and kind of on expensive side but well worth every bite.

  6. Sherry says:

    What a wonderful place. Your photos of the views from your beach-heaven are just breath taking. I could stay there forever I do belive. I might wander off for Oysters and nostalgia to Oysterville. But Bride of Alligator Man – really??? Does she have to kiss the groom?? Eeeewwwwwww.

    • libertatemamo says:

      You know I’m not exactly sure what being the “bride” involves. Apparently it’s a big to-do and a very coveted title. Gotta love the quirkiness LOL!
      Nina

  7. Sue says:

    I’m so sorry we missed Cape Disappointment when we were in Astoria! Who knew what an interesting place it would be. You hadn’t been there yet to give us the proper introduction. Next time we’ll for sure get past the Bowpicker’s albacore fish and chips and make it over the bridge to new adventures. Thanks for taking us there Nina and Paul.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Glad I could give you a “taste”. The doggies would go pretty nuts at this campground. You can hear and see the sea from your site (or our site, anyway).
      Nina

  8. Peter says:

    Oh how I envy you….We travel up to Long Beach every year for the kite fest and enjoy all the sites and sounds you have written about. I just wanted to mention a great, I mean great eating spot if you haven’t made it there. It’s the 42nd street cafe, located, wait for it….on 42nd street and 101. Don’t miss it….All the food is gret but my favorite is the raviolis…YUM…We enjoy every word you write…may you be able to do for a long while for the people that are homebound….I hope someday to see you one the road…Peter and Janice in Florence

    • libertatemamo says:

      Oh bum…didn’t see your comment until we left the area. Will just have to put that place on the “list” for when we come back. We’re totally in love with this area. May even consider the lighthouse hosting job up here next year.
      Nina

  9. placestheygo says:

    I read an article about Long Beach Peninsula a while back in one of the MH magazines. It is someplace I want to visit. So glad you got to see the area and took us along. Now I really do have to get there. Thanks for the great photos!

  10. Donna K says:

    Jake the Alligator Man is hilarious. I think the perfect bride for him would be the Slug Queen, elected annually by a panel of judges during the Eugene Celebration. A match made in heaven!! Thanks for sharing the great pictures.

    • libertatemamo says:

      LOL…love it!! I may have to come back and see this birthday next year. Just far too intriguing stuff!
      Nina

  11. Desert Diva says:

    Wow, beautiful photos – makes me “itchy” to get on the road. (I’m waiting for RV repairs…)

    • libertatemamo says:

      May your repairs be quickly done and your butt on the road pronto :)
      Hope you’re persuading that duck guest to come out here too.
      Nina

  12. Rowanova says:

    Awesome photos again. Glad to see you have been able to adventure around the peninsula areas as it does actually have a lot to offer.

    Now that you’ve been introduced to a small slice of Washington, I suspect it’ll have you giving consideration to a longer stay on some future voyage. I’ve lived here for 35 years already, and yet if I could travel as a full-timer like you do, I could spend an entire year (RV season) staying in favorite spots and exploring even more that I still haven’t seen.

    • libertatemamo says:

      We DEFINITELY want to come back and explore some more. Actually I can’t quite believe it took us this long to get here! We’ll have to come to you for suggestions when we go back.
      Nina

      • Rowanova says:

        Please do, it would be my pleasure. And if you’ll be in the area for a more extended stay I may need to bend my schedule to haul my little old fiver down for a few days and a meet-up. :-)

  13. Most of my childhood memories are from the Long Beach Peninsula, from raking butterclams in Wilapa Bay to spotting a bear on the far side of the huckleberries, way back in the 50’s… great shots and story, as always! Sending this along to locals who’ve enjoyed your stories, too!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Amazing! We met a lot of locals at the campground who’ve been coming back for years (since their childhood) so it’s definitely a spot for special memories. So happy we got to experience it.
      Nina

  14. Long Beach is where we went after my father passed away – it was indeed a soothing spot and is actually one of the few places in the PNW that reminds me of east coast beaches. As always, fabulous pictures!

  15. LuAnn says:

    We too love Cape Disappointment but would love to see more of the great state of WA. Thanks for the lovely photos Nina. :)

  16. […] could easily spend days just exploring the park. In addition you are only a few miles away from sleepy Ilwaco and the fun of the Long Beach Peninsula. No end of stuff to do […]

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