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West Coast beach airports: Gateway to relaxationWest Coast beach airports: Gateway to relaxation

It’s summer, and sometimes you just need to visit the beach. Hit the waves, get a tan, go beachcombing, or explore further. Here are some West Coast airports near the beach.

  • Land right on the beach at Copalis State Beach in southern Washington. Photo courtesy Jelson25 Wikimedia commons.
  • Learn how to fly a hang glider on the beach at Pacific City, Oregon. Photo courtesy Oregon Hang Gliding.
  • One of the largest single geological formations on the West Coast, 332-ft.-tall Haystack Rock looms just offshore at Pacific City, Oregon, where you can go fishing in a beach-launched dory. Photo courtesy Inn at Cape Kiwanda.
  • Haul in a tuna from a beach-launched dory off Pacific City, Oregon. Photo courtesy Eagle Charters Fishing.
  • For dining and fresh microbrew on the beach at Pacific City, Oregon, head to the Pelican Pub & Brewery. The atmosphere is casual, and with huge windows overlooking the ocean, the views of Haystack Rock and Oregon sunsets are unmatched. Photo courtesy Inn at Cape Kiwanda.
  • A short walk from the airport, the Craftsman B&B is one of Pacific City’s oldest homes, built in 1921. In 2005, it was renovated to include modern-day conveniences and luxuries, but it retains the namesake craftsman style. Photo courtesy Craftsman B&B.
  • All 35 deluxe guest rooms at Pacific City’s Inn at Cape Kiwanda have ocean views, so you can watch the waves crash onto Haystack Rock. Whether it’s sunny or stormy, curling up by the fireplace and watching the crashing waves sometimes makes for the best vacation. The private balcony offers another place to unwind. Photo courtesy Inn at Cape Kiwanda.
  • The 65-foot “Discovery” docked at Newport, Oregon. Two-hour naturalist-guided sea life cruises focus on Oregon wildlife and scenery. Photo courtesy Marine Discovery Tours.
  • Guests on a sea life cruise view a whale diving off the Newport coastline. Porpoises, seals, sea lions, bald eagles, pelicans, and other seabirds are commonly seen. If the ocean is rough, cruises can take place in the calm bay and riverway. Photo courtesy Marine Discovery Tours.
  • Visit the Yaquina Head Lighthouse on your own, or see it on a sea life cruise from Newport. Photo courtesy Friends of Yaquina Lighthouses.
  • The Rogue River empties into the Pacific Ocean right at Gold Beach. Take an exciting jetboat ride up the Rogue River. Photo courtesy Jerry’s Rogue Jets.
  • A GoogleEarth image of Crescent City’s Jack Mc Namara Field. Visit the quiet beach just south of Runway 34, walk to Point St. George Beach via the road that passes the Coast Guard station, or visit the tidepools in between. Photo courtesy GoogleEarth.
  • A view of the wide Point St. George Beach, northwest of Jack Mc Namara Field near Crescent City, California. Photo courtesy
  • A GoogleEarth image of Samoa Field Airport, west of Eureka, California. Choose from a wild Pacific Coast beach or a quiet beach on the bay side of the airport. Photo courtesy GoogleEarth.
  • Fly in the same aircraft used to train U.S. pilots during World War II. Banner Airways, at the Oceano airport, offers scenic rides in a Boeing Stearman or a North American AT-6. They supply the leather jacket, helmet, goggles, and life jacket. Photo courtesy Banner Airways.

Copalis State Beach, Washington: You will literally land on the beach at Copalis State Airport, on the southern Washington coast. “Runway” 14/32 is bounded by the surf to the west, a pile of boulders to the north, and the Copalis River to the south. Check tide tables, land when the tide is out, and keep an eye on your airplane. Watch for pedestrians, especially during the razor clam digging season, and enjoy the surf!

Seaside, Oregon: On a sunny day, flightseeing the Oregon coastline is truly spectacular. Forested mountains tumble toward the wild Pacific Ocean, where waves and tides pound and mold rocky promontories, estuaries, and unspoiled beaches. Seaside Municipal Airport sits just east of the estuary. Hit the Java Reef for an espresso before continuing to wander down toward the beach.

Just landed at Seaside, Oregon, and need a caffeine fix? Hustle across the highway directly west of the airport to Java Reef, a tiny drive-through with great espresso. Here, the owner is weeding his living roof. Photo courtesy Java Reef.

Pacific City, Oregon: Land at Pacific City State Airport and find a pilot-friendly community where two rivers meet the coastline to create a rich environment for birds, fish, and other animals. With the airport in the center of town, you can walk everywhere you need to. If you want a lift, grab a taxi or just ask; people are generally happy to oblige. The beach here provides multiple recreation opportunities: Look for clams and crabs, try surfing or stand-up paddle boarding, look for whales offshore, go beachcombing, search the tidepools, or fly a kite. You can also try hang gliding, drift-boat fishing for salmon or steelhead, or an ocean fishing trip from a beach-launched dory.

Newport, Oregon: Although Newport Municipal Airport is directly adjacent to the beach, that area is private property, so it’s a two- to three-mile walk to the closest beach access. You can borrow the courtesy car, reserve a rental, or take a taxi, though, to spend the day on the beach or visit the Yaquina Head Lighthouse (Oregon’s tallest), look for seabirds at Seal Island, or visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Boating excursions depart from the historic Bayfront, or walk along the old Bayfront strip to view huge murals and enjoy lots of fresh seafood.

Rent an ATV and motor across the dunes at Oceano. Photo courtesy Steve’s ATV Rentals.

Gold Beach, Oregon: Gold Beach Municipal Airport lies less than 200 yards from the beach. Fun activities include hiking, biking, golfing, river rafting, beachcombing, fishing, horseback riding, or jet boating. Each February through April hundreds of glass floats are hidden on the beaches for visitors to find. The week of Valentine’s Day is special for glass float hunting, with red-colored floats. One hundred twenty special green floats can be found during the week of St. Patrick’s Day.

Crescent City, California: The approach end of Runway 36 at Jack Mc Namara Field is less than 200 yards from the shoreline, and it’s an easy walk to the beach from your tiedown. This beach is protected from crashing ocean waves by the small peninsula directly west of the airport. For the full crashing waves experience, walk northwest 1.2 miles along the road to the wide Point St. George Beach, directly off the approach end to Runway 12. Or, walk toward the radio tower and then to the coves just south of it, which have tide pools. White Rock is a prominent rock off the point that has an arch in it.

Eureka, California: Samoa Field lies on a long peninsula just west of Eureka that forms and protects Arcata Bay. Walk to the protected bay beach just southeast of the field, or to the wilder beach on the Pacific Ocean side. Either way, the water is just a few hundred yards from the runway.

Oceano, California: The short walk from Oceano County Airport to the beach is only one of the reasons behind Oceano’s popularity among California pilots. Besides laying in the sun, you can ride horses or ATVs on the nearby sand dunes, take a Humvee tour, check out thousands of monarch butterflies in the eucalyptus grove, rent kayaks to explore the coves, fly a kite, take a sightseeing or aerobatic flight in a 1943 Super Stearman or North American AT-6, or even try sky diving.

Ride a horse on the beach at Oceano with the folks from Pacific Dunes Ranch. Photo courtesy Pacific Dunes Ranch.
Crista Worthy

Crista V. Worthy

Crista V. Worthy has been flying around the United States with her pilot-husband Fred and their children since 1995, and writing about fun places to fly since 2006. She has single-engine land and sea ratings. Her favorite places to explore are the backcountry strips of Idaho and Utah's red rock country. She currently lives in Idaho and serves as editor of The Flyline, the monthly publication of the Idaho Aviation Association.
Topics: US Travel

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