Tag Archives: Beach

Bayahibe, Dominican Republic

Bayahibe, Dominican Republic: a tiny beach town with some great food, a gorgeous beach, and a good home base for tours to the National Parks

 

Bayahibe was the second stop on our trip to The Dominican Republic in 2013. I was looking for a quiet little beach town in between Santo Domingo and Punta Cana similar to the ones we’ve been to in Mexico where we could enjoy a nice beach and some local culture. After extensive reading, I decided that Bayahibe might be a good fit. In addition to having a nice public beach, it was a good departure spot for tours to Isla Saona and the National Parks in the area. Overall we enjoyed our stay here more than at the resort we went to afterwards, despite one bad tour.

Excerpt from original post: Domincan Republic 2013: Santo Domingo, Bayahibe, and Cap Cana

 

Day 1:

We had reserved a shuttle to the town of Bayahibe from our hotel in Santo Domingo with Domincan Shuttles for about $120.00. I’m sure that there are less expensive ways to get to Bayahibe with the public bus, but we were willing to pay the extra money to go on our own schedule with direct service to our hotel.

The shuttle driver was very friendly, and the ride was about 2 hours. He made sure that we were let into the gate at our hotel by the owner before he left, which was much appreciated. We had booked three nights at the Hotel Villa Baya, a small and inexpensive mom-and-pop hotel in the town. The room wasn’t anything fancy, but very affordable at $40.00/night and had everything we needed. It had a double bed and a twin, a small table and chairs, ample closest space, a tiny TV, an outdoor patio, and a kitchen with a gas stove, sink, dishes, and a mini fridge. No A/C, but there was a fan. We were on the ground floor, and I think requesting an upper floor unit might be a little better with a more private deck.

Hotel Villa Baya Bayabibe Domincan Republic 090

Hotel Villa Baya Bayabibe Domincan Republic 089

The hotel also has a locked gate to the property that you need your key to get in and out of, providing extra security. There wasn’t a safe, so we hid our valuables that we didn’t take with us in socks deep in our backpacks in the closet, and made sure to leave a tip for the maid each day. We had no problem.

We walked around the tiny town, getting extra cash at the ATM at the grocery store, and water, beer, and wine to stock our mini fridge. We found the grocery store souvenir prices to be best here out of anywhere we went. They all had price tags on them too–a rarity in DR.

Hotel Villa Baya Bayabibe Domincan Republic 088
Road back to the hotel from town
Bayahibe Harbor Domincan Republic 087
Bayahibe Harbor

That evening we ate at a little beach restaurant near the harbor, Chiky Blue. It was a super cute little beach spot with a grass roof, Christmas lights hung around for ambiance, and very friendly staff. I ordered a fried fish with rosemary potatoes, and it was the best whole fried fish I’ve ever eaten in my life.

Chiky Blue Bayahibe Domincan Republic 092

Chiky Blue Bayahibe Domincan Republic 093
Whole fried fish at Chiky Blue Bayahibe
Chiky Blue Bayahibe Domincan Republic 095
Chiky Blue Bayahibe

At night there was a congregation of locals around a bar/convenience store near the grocery store in town, partying, socializing, and listening to Dominican bachata music.

We picked up some milk and cereal for the morning, as we were getting up really early the next morning to leave on a tour. Having a kitchenette in our room was definitely a convenience.

Day 2:

We had booked two tours with Seavis Tours, an eco-tour company based out of Bayahibe. Originally, I had wanted to do the Jungle Tour in the Parque Nacional de Este, but it wasn’t offered on Mondays. They said the tour they had available on Mondays was the Monster Truck Safari, operated by a third party tour provider. We looked it over, the words “monster truck” and “safari” setting off major red flags of a horrendous tourist experience. It promised an educational tour of rural country life, a farm, and a rural school. It sounded interesting enough, so we deliberated a bit and decided to go for it.

We were picked up in front of the police station near our hotel by a shuttle driver, and then made a few stops at some resorts to pick up several other tourists, all European. When we reached the nearby town of Higuey, we were loaded into a hideous “monster truck” that made us cringe.

Monster Truck Safari Domincan Republic 134

We climbed aboard and monstered our way out into the countryside. If there was one thing I enjoyed about this tour, it was driving through the country. We passed houses and farms, getting a chance to view the vast diversity of country living.

Our first stop was at the home and farm of a middle class Dominican family. We were given a tour of the farm and it’s fruits and vegetables. The family who owned the farm was going about their day in the house, doing laundry, cleaning, watching TV, etc. We were told to go in and see the house, but Paddy and I didn’t feel very comfortable going in and gawking at a family in their home. I know the family was getting compensation for the tour, but it just felt weird and intrusive.

Next, we were led down the road to the family’s small store, and told that we were going to be visiting a Haitian village where the kids were very poor later in the trip. We were told that we should buy school supplies or candy to give them. Here’s where things got gross: They had TWO spiral notebooks and TWO pencils for all of us to buy for the kids, and a giant amount of candy. All sold by the family who owned the house at expensive American prices, not Dominican prices. We bought a small bag of candy and a notebook and pencil. None of the other tourists bought the remaining school supplies, all candy.

Now, had we known this was part of the tour, we would have stocked up on school supplies, food, toothbrushes, and other necessities from the grocery store in Bayahibe to give out to the kids. (At the end of the trip, we realized that this was all part of a big show put on for the tourists so that the family with the farm could make money. None of it was about helping poor Haitian kids. )

Next, we visited a rural country school. It was spring break, so the kids were gone but we were shown the classroom and told a bit about Dominican schools.

Rural school Dominican Republic

rural school Domincan Republic

rural school Domincan Republic

Before we left, our guides brought out some ugly safari hats with “Monster Truck Safari” on them, and told us that if we bought one (at $20 each) the proceeds would go to helping the school. No one bought one, until the guide put some pressure on us and one of the Europeans finally forked over $20.  My suspicion is that very little goes to helping the school, and that most of it goes to the Monster Truck Safari people. Had there been a teacher there talking about the school with a donation jar, we would have donated. Instead we felt a little put off.

Next we stopped at another “farm” where a family was selling jellies and fruit leather. More pressure to purchase, and not much in the way of a tour.

We then continued through the road, and past a sugarcane plantation with a giant mansion up on the top of a big hill overlooking the sugarcane fields. We turned a corner and approached the “Haitian village.” Kids were waiting for us, and we gave them our candy. They were jumping and grabbing for it, and we were told not to toss the candy to them because they fight. It was like feeding animals. I handed the notebook and pencil to one of the few adult women with the kids, who grabbed for it and gave it to a specific little girl. I’m sure she knew which kid needed it the most, and that was the only part that made us happy.

Domincan Republic 133

Domincan Republic 132

Domincan Republic 131

As we drove away, monstering over a river and up a hill, the whole picture became clear. This wasn’t a “Haitian village,” it was a migrant farm-worker community who work the sugarcane fields for the rich guy on the hill with the mansion, who obviously pays them next to nothing. Their houses were shanties built with whatever scraps of building materials that they could find, and the “village” was just a section of the plantation owner’s land that he lets them live on.

The Monster Truck Safari people do this tour once a week, help the family with the farm make some money off the tourists by selling them candy at high prices, and then show the tourists the “poor Haitian kids” as a tourist attraction, like animals in a zoo. Those kids don’t need candy once a week. They need necessities, things that won’t rot their teeth.

We were pretty disgusted and bummed out by the whole ordeal. The guide tried to get “party time” going on again as we headed back to Higuey, trying to interest us in rum and cokes and beer. We weren’t interested.

Our last stop was in Higuey, where we walked through a market and then were brought to a store where we could buy souvenirs (big surprise) at “the best prices in the Dominican Republic.” (They weren’t the best prices.) For the resort tourists, they might have been as the resort gift shops charge exorbitant prices. We got most of our souvenirs at the Bayahibe grocery store instead for very reasonable prices.

Market in Higuey Domincan Republic
Market in Higuey
Higuey, Domincan Republic 136
Higuey

When we got back to Bayahibe, they dropped us off first, in front of the dirt road to our little hotel. Kids and chickens were running around the road, and the resort tourists in the van with us were somewhat horrified by our digs. We bid them goodbye and good riddance.

For dinner that evening we went to Bamboo Beach, another grass-roofed little spot with a view of the water. It was owned by French expats, and most of the customers appeared to be French tourists. The food was good and the atmosphere was nice.

Bamboo Beach Restaurant Bayahibe Domincan Republic 140
Bamboo Beach, Bayahibe
Bamboo Beach Restaurant Bayahibe Domincan Republic 139
Bamboo Beach, Bayahibe
Bamboo Beach Restaurant Bayahibe Domincan Republic 138
Bamboo Beach, Bayahibe
Bamboo Beach Restaurant Bayahibe Domincan Republic 137
Bamboo Beach, Bayahibe

 

Day 3:

The next day was a lazy beach day. Bayahibe has a very nice public beach, with beach chairs for rent for $5.00 for the day.

**Tips:

1. You get a better deal paying in pesos for beach chairs instead of dollars

2. Stock up on water, beer, snacks, and toilet paper at the grocery store before you head to the beach. The public restroom is a bring your own TP type of situation, and the beers at the beach are ridiculously overpriced.

3. Take the back beach trail, not the one along the water to avoid the aggressive souvenir stands.

We had breakfast first at Cafe La Marina, an open air restaurant right in front of the main harbor. I think the owners were Italian. There were a lot of Italian style baked goods, and I got a very good foccacia bread with tomatoes. Coffee was tasty.

We took the back trail to avoid the touts at the souvenir stalls, and passed a small beach cemetery.

Bayahibe Beach cemetery Domincan Republic 142

Bayahibe Beach cemetery Domincan Republic 143

The beach itself was really nice, with soft sand, minimal coral, and bathtub warm water. My sunscreen expired a little before we left and I got a tiny bit burnt. Remember to re-apply!

Bayahibe public beach Domincan Republic 144
Bayahibe public beach
Bayahibe public beach Domincan Republic 145
Bayahibe public beach
Bayahibe public beach Domincan Republic 146
Bayahibe public beach

**Bathroom tip: Don’t use the “bathrooms” near the beach parking lot. They are the grossest outhouses I’ve ever seen. Head back to the public restroom near the town–make sure to bring your own toilet paper.

When we’d had enough sun, we walked back to the main marina area and had lunch at the Saona Cafe, a little bar and grill owned by French Canadian expats right in front of the harbor. We had some very tasty fish burgers and ice cold Presidentes.

Later that evening after a rest in our room, we went looking around for a place for dinner. There were a few interesting little spots on the harbor, but we ended up getting pizza back at Chiky Blue again. It had such great atmosphere and view, and the food and prices were great.

Bayahibe Harbor Domincan Republic 151
Bayahibe Harbor
Chiky Blu Bayahibe Domincan Republic 153
Chiky Blu Bayahibe
Chiky Blu Bayahibe Domincan Republic 154
Chiky Blu Bayahibe

The next day we did a tour to Isla Saona with Seavis Tours, which was much better and the highlight of our trip to the Dominican Republic. I would definitely recommend Seavis Tours, but avoid the “Monster Truck Safari” tour operated by a third party.

I would recommend Bayahibe for budget travelers or people who want to get out of the resort bubble  and still enjoy a nice day at the beach. There are a variety of tours to do from the town as well, and it is a great location to use as a home base to explore.

Read about the rest of our adventures in the Dominican Republic here

Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Two days/three nights on Isla Mujeres, Mexico–just a short shuttle and ferry from Cancun. A laid-back island with great beaches and plenty of culture

 

Excerpt from original post Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico 2009: Isla Mujeres, Chichen Itza, and Tulum

This trip to Mexico in 2009 was one of our favorites, and Isla Mujeres is a place we always talk about going back to. I always recommend it to people looking for a quick and easy tropical vacation on a budget. It was so much less expensive than Hawaii or the Bahamas, and you can get a beautiful white sand beach and a little Mexican culture (without the mega resorts) only a half hour shuttle and a quick ferry ride away from the Cancun Airport.

 

Day 1:

We arrived in Cancun in the morning after a night flight with a layover in Miami, on the day of Paddy’s 40th birthday. Our first destination was Isla Mujeres, a small island off the coast of Cancun. I had scheduled a shuttle with Best Day shuttles for $8.00 each to the Isla Mujeres ferry dock, and everything went as planned.

**Tip: People accept US dollars here as well as pesos. Bring some $1 bills with you so that you have some small bills to tip with when you arrive. Tipping in Mexico is a big part of the culture and will be expected. This began the second I got off the plane and went to the restroom–there was a lady handing out paper towels for tips. Tip your shuttle drivers, hotel maids, bartenders, and your restaurant servers. We always tip at least 20%.

After a 30 minute shuttle to the Isla Mujeres ferry, it wasn’t long before the next boat arrived. We purchased our tickets and got some cash from the ATM at the ferry terminal (the guidebook told us that sometimes the island ATMS occasionally run out of cash to dispense). A short ferry ride later, we walked off the pier to the town of Playa Norte and found our hotel.

Our hotel on Isla Mujeres was Suites Los Arcos in the center of town. After reading Tripadvisor reviews about street noise, we had requested a room at the back of the hotel and they honored our request. Check in was easy, and the room was immaculately clean. It was a great deal for $60 a night, with a deck, air conditioning, a mini-fridge, coffee maker, and microwave.

Click on any image below to view larger

 

Suites Los Arcos Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres–Suites Los Arcos

Above: Suites Los Arcos from the street

Below: Room interior and deck

Suites Los Arcos Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres–Suites Los Arcos

\

Suites Los Arcos Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres–Suites Los Arcos
Suites Los Arcos Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres–Suites Los Arcos

**Note: Stock up on bottled water the second you arrive. Don’t ever drink the tap water and brush your teeth with bottled water. If venturing outside of a touristy area, don’t eat raw fruits and vegetables as they may not be treated to remove the bacteria that makes foreigners ill. Also avoid ice outside of tourist areas. You can always ask your server if the ice is purified. Be wary of crushed ice, the purified ice usually comes in the tube cubes.

After a shower and a nap, we headed out into the humidity to find some food and walk around. We had dinner at a little beach bar by the pier, then ended up having some celebratory birthday margaritas and shots at a little Tequila bar not far from our hotel. If you like tequila, I recommend Aja Toro Anejo. It’s a top shelf tequila that is very expensive in the US, but is reasonable in Mexico. It’s so smooth you can sip it.

Isla Mujeres

We arranged a snorkel tour with a guy offering snorkel tours across the street from our hotel. We had to put $20 down and then pay $20 the next day, and he wrote us a voucher. We weren’t sure what to think, but his shop was right in front of our hotel and we figured at worst we would be out $20.

Day 2:

The next morning we had some huevos rancheros at the little cafe across from our hotel and met up with the snorkel tour, which was completely legit. They took us out in a boat with some other tourists down the coast of the island, and we snorkeled back along with the current.

**Tip: I bought a waterproof waist pouch online before this trip, for storing money and keys so I didn’t have to leave valuables in the empty boat with the guides. I’m sure they were trustworthy, but you can never be too careful. Also a good idea for going into the water when at the beach. You don’t want to leave your valuables on the shore.

Isla Mujeres snorkeling

Isla Mujeres snorkeling

Isla Mujeres snorkeling

Isla Mujeres snorkeling

One of our guides was feeding the fish tortillas, which is why there are so many of them in this video:

Snorkeling Isla Mujeres Mexico

Isla Mujeres snorkeling

Isla Mujeres snorkeling

Snorkeling Isla Mujeres Mexico

After seeing lots of colorful fish, we got back in the boat and I promptly got a bad bout of motion sickness while we waited for everyone to get in the boat. Fortunately I didn’t puke, but spent some time with my head between my knees when we arrived at the beach. We stopped at a beach on the southern part of the island for a delicious barbequed  fish lunch before heading back.

After we arrived back to Playa Norte and took a rest in the air-conditioned oasis of our hotel room, we walked around the town a bit.

Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres

I was in love with the local cemetery. The colors, individual trinkets and offerings to each person’s resting place were so personal and endearing.

Isla Mujeres Cemetery
Cemetery
Isla Mujeres Cemetery
Cemetery
Isla Mujeres Cemetery
Cemetery
Isla Mujeres Cemetery
Cemetery
Isla Mujeres Cemetery
Cemetery
Isla Mujeres Cemetery
Cemetery
Isla Mujeres Cemetery
Cemetery

Below: Handcrafted “Catrina” dolls for sale in our hotel. I really wanted to buy one, but didn’t think it would survive the trip home.

Catrina dolls, Isla Mujeres
Catrina dolls
Catrina dolls Isla Mujeres
Catrina dolls

I don’t remember what we had for dinner, but I do remember that we only spent about $15 each including drinks. I was nervous about consuming ice but whenever I asked our server if the ice was purified,(hielo purificado) it always was. We never got sick.

Day 3:

The next day was our last full day on Isla Mujeres and we weighed our options of what to do. We could either rent a golf cart (there are no cars on the island except the few owned by locals) for $40 and see the rest of the island, or we could spend the day at the gorgeous beach in the town. We opted for a beach day.

Playa Norte Isla Mujeres
Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres

Most of the beach chairs were owned by some of the beach front hotels, but we found a row of them that were owned by the proprietor of a small restaurant on the beach. We approached the chairs and he came dashing over to explain the deal. We could sit in the chairs as long as we wanted, as long as we spent $11.00 over the course of the day. No problem at all.

Below: the view from the water facing the distant bar/restaurant that owns the beach chairs

Playa Norte Isla Mujeres
Playa Norte

Getting a chair and umbrella was imperative. The September sun was so scorching hot that even with SPF 50 sunscreen on we felt like we were going to burst into flames. When we weren’t in the water, we would move our chairs along with the shade and pull all our extremities into the shade like vampires.

Playa Norte Isla Mujeres
Playa Norte
Playa Norte Isla Mujeres
Playa Norte
Playa Norte Isla Mujeres
Playa Norte
Playa Norte Isla Mujeres
Playa Norte

We spent the late morning and early afternoon reading and swimming and taking in the beautiful powdered sugar beach and crystal blue water. It is truly one of the nicest beaches I’ve ever been to. The fact that it is in the town and in walking distance from everything is a huge plus as well.

Playa Norte Isla Mujeres
Playa Norte
Playa Norte Isla Mujeres
Playa Norte

The guy from the restaurant came around a few times in the morning to take orders. We weren’t hungry yet or ready for a beer and he didn’t pressure us. Around noon we asked for menus and ordered some fish tacos, nachos, beers, and margaritas. We each had a couple drinks over the afternoon, and as more people arrived we watched our poor waiter hoof it back and forth across blazing hot sand in the midday sun to fetch food and beverages for everyone. When we were ready to leave, we asked for the bill. All that –drinks, food, service, and use of beach chairs for a total of $25.00. You sure can’t get that in Hawaii. We made sure to leave a fat tip for our hard-working friend for his excellent service.

fish tacos Playa Norte Isla Mujeres
Fish taco and nachos on the beach

 

That night we found an Argentinian restaurant where Paddy had a perfectly cooked filet mignon for $15.00. Gotta love Mexico.

Isla Mujeres restaurants

 

 

We will definitely be going back to Isla Mujeres. While the off-season in September was nice without the crowds, it was a bit too hot for us. Summer and early fall are the hottest months. I would like to go in June, however because summer is when whale sharks are in the area and you can take a tour out to snorkel with them. It sounds terrifying to be in the water with such huge animals, but for that kind of once-in-a-lifetime experience, I’d suck it up and go for it.

Ocean Shores, WA 2011

Our weekend in Ocean Shores, WA in February 2011: Wintry beaches, coastal drives on highway 109, and a fantastic Irish Pub

We were still paying off our honeymoon to Tahiti in February 2011, but I became desperate for a getaway. So I looked around and found a room in Ocean Shores, WA at the Guesthouse International Hotel for $79/night, including free breakfast. Our room had a distant ocean view, and was more or less adequate. It wasn’t quaint or endearing on any level, just a regular corporate chain hotel that you might find on the side of a freeway on a road trip. Our room did have a fridge, coffee maker, and a microwave which was nice. Two things were a turn-off, however:

1. The complimentary shampoo was a used bottle that was 25% full with the lid screwed back on and the label sealed back over the top. Tacky.

2. We were on a non-smoking floor, but for the first day our room filled with a strong odor of cigarette smoke through the bathroom fan. It was really unpleasant.

Click on any image below to view larger

View from our hotel room at Guest House International Ocean Shores
View from our hotel room

Overall, the price was decent and sometimes you get what you pay for. I’d say the price matched the quality.

We had left Seattle in the morning and rolled into Ocean Shores around lunch time. We were ready for the obligatory fried fish basket, oysters, chowder, and the like. I’d already consulted Yelp for restaurant advice and chose Mike’s Seafood. It was small and busy, but the wait wasn’t very long. After some fantastic oyster shooters and fried captain’s platter, we were ready to go explore the town.

Shark gift shop Ocean Shores WA
Gift shop with really cool front door
Shark gift shop Ocean Shores WA
Shark gift shop Ocean Shores WA

Above: I really wanted this gift shop to be a really cool bar or restaurant, but alas it was just a gift shop with your average mass-produced beach town souvenirs that you can buy in any other beach town anywhere in the United States. But it makes for a good photo op.

Most of the town and restaurants were about a mile from our hotel. During the summer, this wouldn’t be an issue and would be a pretty pleasant walk. In the winter, it was a little dark and cold at night to walk so we drove to go out to eat.

Ocean Shores has a run down arcade, some go-karts, and several little shops. It looked like a crusty old beach town that someone attempted to develop into a tourist spot and was probably really sucessful at it about 50 years ago. Now, it just seems like an aging, forgotten,  half-ass version of Seaside, OR. I would imagine that it must be best to visit in the summer and overall it is a good family destination. If you are looking for some quaint boardwalk beach town family fun, however, I’d recommend Seaside, OR instead. It’s not that much further down the coast.

We went for a nice walk on the beach and then decided to settle in to rest and read a bit before dinner.

Ocean Shores, WA beach
The beach
Ocean Shores, WA beach
The beach
Ocean Shores, WA beach
The beach
Ocean Shores, WA beach
The beach
Ocean Shores, WA beach
The beach
Ocean Shores, WA beach
The beach

For dinner we consulted Yelp again and decided on Galway Bay Irish Pub and Restaurant and were pleasantly surprised. The atmosphere was nice and the food was excellent. Entrees come with a delicious fresh baked mini loaf of Irish soda bread and a salad. The prices were reasonable and the service was great.

The next day we had breakfast at the hotel. The eggs were powdered and it wasn’t a great breakfast, but it was free. I mixed some cream cheese and Tabasco in with the scrambled eggs and it made them taste decent. Paddy said the biscuits and sausage gravy was alright. There was also your standard hotel continental breakfast fare of cereals, bagels, toast, fruit, yogurt, coffee, and juices.

We then left Ocean Shores and took a drive up the coast on the highway 109 to Pacific Beach. It was a nice drive, but nothing like the beautiful 101 through Oregon. We stopped for lunch at The Seagate Restaurant and Lounge in Pacific Beach. It was a salty little dive on the bay. I had the clam chowder which the waitress said was homemade, but you couldn’t tell. It was really  thick and average tasting.

We drove to the dead end of the highway 109 in Taholah, and stopped and got a few glimpses of the beach on the Quinault Indian Reservation. There were signs posted that it was reservation property and we weren’t allowed to trespass, so we didn’t stay. The beach views up here though were the best of the drive.

Taholah Beach WA
Taholah
Taholah Beach WA
Taholah

In the afternoon we arrived back in Ocean Shores and decided to go for some afternoon bloody marys at Mariah’s Restaurant in the  Polynesian Resort. The best thing about Mariah’s is the ocean view. Otherwise, the hotel and restaurant are pretty outdated, with a boring overpriced menu and a 1980’s interior. It was a great place for some afternoon cocktails, however, and I would recommend it for that reason only. The bloody marys were very tasty.

Bloody Marys at Mariahs Restaurant Ocean Shores WA

For dinner that evening we decided that the Galway Bay Irish Pub was so good that we should just go there again. It seemed to be the best quality for the money and they had live music.

 

The next morning, we had the free breakfast in the hotel again and got on our way. On the highway back to Seattle we saw a giant roadside inflatable muscle man and had to stop for a picture. It made my day.

roadside inflatable muscle man
Roadside inflatable muscle man

 

Overall, we probably won’t go back to Ocean Shores again. There wasn’t much character to the town and the beaches are much nicer further south.

 

 

Cannon Beach Oregon 2009

 Our visit and travel suggestions for Cannon Beach, Oregon

We’ve been to Cannon Beach, Oregon a few times, and it’s one of our favorite winter getaways. Only a three and a half hour drive from Seattle, it’s a great three-day weekend trip. We don’t like to go in the summer, because that’s the busy and most expensive time of year, and we enjoy cozying up in a room with a fireplace and watching the sea.

Click on any image below to enlarge

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, Oregon
Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, Oregon

Our favorite place to stay is The Hallmark Inn. Our favorite room is the Southwest View King, which is a corner room with a front and center view of Haystack Rock and the ocean. The room has a fireplace, comfortable king sized bed, mini fridge, and deck. The Hallmark can be expensive, but in the off season and weekdays you can get a good deal. The Hallmark also has an indoor pool, hot tub, and sauna as well as free parking and a great location in walking distance to everything in town.

The Hallmark Inn, Cannon Beach, Oregon
The Hallmark Inn, Cannon Beach

Above: The Hallmark Inn from the beach

Below: View from the southwest view king room

View from southwest view king room, Hallmark Inn, Cannon Beach
View from southwest view king room, Hallmark Inn, Cannon Beach

Each time we visit Cannon Beach, our visit is not complete without a meal at two places: Newmans at 988 and The Pig N Pancake. Newmans at 988 is an amazing upscale restaurant in an old Victorian house on the main street of town. The seating is cozy and the service is fantastic. We highly recommend the foie gras pasta and the duck breast. Plan on spending about $90-$130 for two people for appetizer, soup or salad, entree, dessert, and wine. Expensive, but worth the splurge.

The Pig N Pancake is always busy in the summer and on holiday weekends. It’s the best breakfast spot in town, and worth the wait for a table if there’s a line. My favorite is the dungeness crab benedict. The crab is super fresh and the hashbrowns are nice and crispy. We always leave stuffed to the gills.

Pig N Pancake, Cannon Beach, Oregon
Pig N Pancake, Cannon Beach

Above: Paddy full and happy

Dungeness crab benedict, Pig N Pancake Cannon Beach
Dungeness crab benedict, Pig N Pancake Cannon Beach

After you’ve recovered from a giant breakfast, you can do some beach combing, and if the tide is out go check out the tide pools at haystack rock. Orange and purple starfish and bright green sea anemones cling to the rocks in the pools. You can also find chitons, barnacles, periwinkles, mussels, and other organisms.

Chiton, Cannon Beach tidepool, Oregon coast
Chiton, Cannon Beach

 

Cannon Beach, Oregon Coast
Cannon Beach

Below: The giant green sea anemone Anthopleura xanthogrammica

giant green sea anemone Anthopleura xanthogrammica, Cannon Beach
The giant green sea anemone Anthopleura xanthogrammica, Cannon Beach
Cannon Beach, Oregon Coast
Cannon Beach
Cannon Beach, Oregon Coast
Cannon Beach

North of Cannon Beach is the tourist town of Seaside, OR which is more of a family destination. There is a boardwalk, carousel, beach, shopping and beach cart rentals. Seaside is great for kids and families. We always opt for the solitude and low-key vibe of Cannon Beach. It is fun for a day visit if you haven’t been there.

A short drive south of Cannon Beach is Tolovana Beach Park. We have stayed at the Tolovana Inn as well, which is also very nice. There’s no real town to speak of, but Mo’s Chowder is right next to the Tolovana and is a good lunch option. It’s a family spot, your traditional fried fish basket and chowder type of place. It’s right on the beach and the oysters are excellent. We like to stop in for lunch when we’re visiting the area.

Mo's Chowder, Tolovana Park, Oregon Coast
Mo’s Chowder, Tolovana Park

Above: Paddy with chowder in a bread bowl and some oysters on the half shell at Mo’s.

Tolovana Beach Park, Oregon Coast
Tolovana Beach Park
Haystack Rock from Tolovana Beach Park, Oregon Coast
Haystack Rock from Tolovana Beach Park
Tolovana Beach Park, Oregon Coast
Tolovana Beach Park

Further south is a nice drive on highway 101.

Coastal Highway 101 Oregon
Coastal Highway 101 Oregon

At night there are a few bars, but for the most part the town is pretty quiet. We like to take in the sunset, or have a couple beers at Bill’s Tavern and Brewhouse.

Cannon Beach sunset
Cannon Beach

I can never get enough of this view:

Cannon Beach sunset
Cannon Beach sunset
Cannon Beach sunset, Hallmark Inn
Hallmark Inn, Cannon Beach
Cannon Beach sunset
Cannon Beach sunset
Cannon Beach sunset
Cannon Beach sunset

Cannon Beach Sunset

Cannon Beach is one of our all time favorite winter getaway destinations, and we will be back again many times, I’m sure.