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.
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!
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.
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.