Before lighthouses beaconed as sentinels, ships bound south for Portland and Astoria, Oregon, navigated high waves and shifting sandbars by notched trees and flickering fires. Long Beach Peninsula’s oldest lighthouse is now 163 years young and soars high above 28 miles of coast steeped in Pacific Northwest history.
“It’s the perfect place to bike, hike, kayak, paddle board, surf, birdwatch, fish, dine, take incredible photos and unwind,” said Beth Ann Bauer, marketing communications coordinator for Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau. “The Long Beach Peninsula is a recreational wonderland with a little something for everyone. It’s the ideal group-friendly getaway just a few hours from both Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington.”
Ragan Myers, tourism and events coordinator for Long Beach Package Travel, can help customize an itinerary.
“From the moment your clients disembark the coach, peninsula hospitality reigns,” she said. “From the Red Carpet and Mayor’s Welcome to the Beach Bucket Giveaway on the day of departure, every component of a Long Beach tour is designed to ‘wow’ your clients.”
Trek like expeditioners
Overlooking the confluence of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean, the Lewis And Clark Interpretive Center is located in Cape Disappointment State Park. Group tours, programs and guided hikes are available by appointment.
Exhibits focus on the 1803–1806 expedition from St. Louis, Missouri, to the Pacific coast, and Thomas Jefferson’s influence on the direction and organization of the expedition. The second floor is devoted to a varied history at Cape Disappointment after Lewis and Clark, including exhibits on the two lighthouses, the coast’s military presence and changes to the park’s natural environment.
Follow the glow
From the interpretive center, groups can hike to the grounds of Cape Disappointment Lighthouse via Cape Disappointment Trail (about 1 mile). The lighthouse guides sailors into the mouth of the Columbia River from the south. In 1788, British fur trader John Meares named the area Cape Disappointment after his inability to locate the river’s mouth.
The sea offshore the Long Beach Peninsula became known as the Graveyard of the Pacific for its unpredictable weather conditions, from fog and shifting sandbars to tidal rips and rock reefs, which have claimed more than 2,000 shipwrecks.
Continue the trek to North Head Lighthouse via North Head Trail (about 2 miles). Perched high above the ocean rocks near Beard’s Hollow, North Head Lighthouse overlooks the North Jetty and Benson Beach, and guides mariners approaching from the north. Winds of 120 miles per hour have been recorded at North Head Lighthouse, making it one of the windiest lighthouse locations in the nation.
Challenge the wind
Held annually during the third full week of August, an extravaganza boasts skies ablaze with color, high-flying action and choreographed movement at Bolstad Beach Approach. Washington State International Kite Festival draws famous kite fliers and tens of thousands of awed spectators, many of whom participate in their own kite-flying adventures.
The World Kite Museum is located just down the street from the festival, which offers group presentations and programs year-round.
“The festival brings people from all over the world,” Myers said. “If the group prefers to keep its competition on the ground, join in the Sandsations, an annual sand sculpture competition in July.”
If a group plans to visit during this peak season, Memorial Day through Labor Day, Bauer recommends lodging and dining reservations well in advance.
“We hope groups experience and share with others the scenic beauty of the area, the rich history, the many recreational opportunities and the charming culture of little towns that make up Long Beach Peninsula.”