In Westport the air is salty and the winds that whip off the ocean make for fantastic kiting conditions. It’s a place where the time is measured by the tides and your activities determined by the weather. A walk on the beach usually requires a sweater and a bag for collecting ocean polished beach glass, dried out sand dollars, and colorful agate that has not yet turned to sand. Don’t forget your camera because you never know what you’ll find from driftwood carved by the sea to groups of people digging for clams.
Low tides and clear skies is the perfect time to explore tide pools. In the morning they’re warm compared to the crisp air and it’s possible to find starfish and other sea creatures. The Washington Trails Association advises people to be careful when exploring because the ecosystem of a tide pool is extremely fragile. They also warn people not to take home any of the creatures they find as it upsets the delicate environmental balance.
This year Westport, Washington is celebrating its Centennial. To mark the momentous occasion, the city is putting on an array of special events. The Westport-Grayland Chamber of Commerce has a calendar on their website so visitors and locals alike can see what events are happening when.
Situated on the mouth of Grays Harbor and the Pacific Ocean, Westport has been utilized as a summer settlement for centuries. Located in the Olympic Peninsula, the land at Westport has been utilized as a summer community for centuries. Indigenous historians say that the first contact by Europeans wasn’t until the late 18th century. According to Westport’s official website, the first foreign settlers arrived in 1857. It was on June 26, 1914 that the City of Westport was incorporated. Modern history and beachside culture is taking center stage in this year’s special events. June and July will see kite shows, a weekend of pirate fun called “Pirate Daze,” and an “Ole Fashioned 4th.” Read on to find out what events are taking place in April.
According to the non-profit organization, Northwest Driftwood Artists, driftwood sculpture is practiced around the world but the Washington State has its own distinct style and history. According to their website, “We work on the skeletal remains of the trees. Unlike the carver, the driftwood artist does not have a particular idea in mind when he sits down to work.” If you want to see driftwood art on display, visit Grayland on April 5th and 6th for the 52nd Beachcombers Driftwood Show. It is being held at the Grayland Community Hall. Artists will be displaying and selling their unique ocean creations. Take home a piece of the sea and support local artists.
Whale watching is popular in the Pacific Northwest, and the season to see gray whales is from March 1 until May 30. If you miss peak viewing time, or happen into the town on a foggy day, pop over to the Westport Maritime Museum. There is the skeleton of a gray whale outside the museum and thoughtfully designed displays about the history of whales and the now-outlawed whaling industry inside.
According to the Washington Whale Museum in Olympia, over 500,000 people go whale watching in the “transboundary waters of Washington and British Columbia” every year. Gray whales pause in the Pacific Northwest during their annual migration to the Alaskan Bering and Chukchi seas. According to the Oregonian, an estimated 22,000 gray whales make the annual migration but around 200 stay along the Pacific Coast and only go as far north as Washington or the south of British Columbia. Gray whales can be up to 40 tons and be 50 feet long. They also live well into their 70s, meaning the same whales are seen year after year.
A favorite pastime in Westport is crabbing. You can rent crab pots, buy feed, and find a spot on the docks. Dungeness are the popular crab in the area. According to the New England Aquarium, they’re an excellent substitute for any kind of crab and even lobster. They are also “considered an ocean-friendly seafood choice because the fishery is well-managed and the fishing gear used does not capture unwanted species or cause significant habitat destruction."
Seattle chef Tom Douglas told the Seattle Times that there are a multitude of ways to serve Dungeness crab. Whether you want to turn your catch into crab cakes or just boil them and crack them open with crab crackers. Dungeness is tender, juicy, and sweet. The flavor is natural: no butter needed.
A drive through Westport will show the local reliance on and love for crab. Crab pots line the harbor and every side street is stacked high with them. If you’re in town on April 19, check out Westport’s ‘World Class Crab Races and Crab Feed.’
Aside from the obvious seagulls that populate every beach town, every spring Grays Harbor gets a visit from hundreds of thousands of shorebirds. Grays Harbor Audubon Society says that the area outside of Westport is a hot spot for birding. Peter Thayer, a world class bird watcher, once put Westport on a list of 10 birding hot spots. The area attracts birders from all over the world, as there have been over 300 species of birds recorded in the area.
April 25th to April 27th the area will be hosting Grays Harbor Shorebird and Nature Festival. For three whole days, Grays Harbor Audubon Society, Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge, and the City of Hoquiam will work together to put on an event filled festival to celebrate local birding. It is meant to coincide with “the peak in migration [that] typically occurs the last week in April.”