Hot weekends call for cool water to swim in and a fiery grill to cook on. Doing both by a sandy beach is the most pleasurable. These dogs days of summer I’ve been learning to surf while exploring the Pacific coast in search of adventure. This trip lead me to Pacific City, Oregon.
Spending a day on the beach in Pacific City requires strategic planning. It’s the kind of beach where you stake your claim, then never leave your spot. There are people everywhere waiting for you to wander away so they can sneakily poach your space. The best way to stake your claim is with a car.Yes! You are allowed to drive on the beach! And bring a big car. Or better yet, a truck…. whatever has large wheels and power drive so you don’t get stuck in the soft sand. And bigger is better once you load in surf boards, beach chairs, umbrellas, Frisbees, kettle grills, giant watermelon and a cooler full of dogs, beer and whatever other creature comforts one might need.
The best surfing spot is Haystack Rock on Kiwanda beach. The waves curl around the giant rock creating good breaks. Although I’m new to surfing, I can see why this is a hot spot. Besides the endless sandy beach and great waves, the vibe there is very chill and welcoming. There’s a really good surf shack close by (Moment Surf Shop) to rent gear and negotiate surfing lessons or spend all your cash buying hoodies and flip-flops. Plus right next store is the Pelican Brew Pub and a taco stand (P&J’s, I think) just in case you didn’t pack enough of your own food &bev.
Luckily, we were prepared for beach dogs. Big pile of wood + kettle grill = BBQ bliss. Nothing beats grilling over a fragrant, slow-burning wood fire – even the humble hot dog takes on a new level of mystery and sophistication. That being said, a surf dog is all about honesty. No fancy toppings, just generous lashings of regular yellow mustard, squeezable ketchup blobs and too much mayo. And the wiener? Same drill: keep it simple -go old school with Oscar or America’s favourite Hebrew National Beef Franks.
cut wood into small pieces and let them burn down to coals before cooking.
slow grill until the skins start to blister – be sure to turn often. wind blown sand is a secret seasoning!
And of course surf dogs tastes best washed down with a cold-as-heck beer. To play up the smoky wood theme, we paired them with a new beer from Rogue Brewery called “Big Ass Barrel Blackberry”. Aged in American oak barrels (Artisan cooper Rick DeFerrari at Oregon Barrel Works) this beer has guts: aromas of crushed plump blackberries, toasted oak and even a hint of chocolate. It feels heavy in the mouth and is the best thing I drank after being tossed around in the waves. Fact: beer tastes better than salt water!
be generous with condiments! these are meant to be squishy and messy
aromas of crushed black berry meets smoky oak. heavenly.
Turns out surfing is really exhausting. The pro’s make it look easy and effortless. I always imagined you spent the whole day riding the waves. Maybe if you’re an Olympic athlete, but even then your time is dictated by the tides. I was grateful for the lunch break and a couple of hours to watch the tide change to rest up. By the end of the day, I was dog tired…..luckily this is how you end a day of surfing and soothing sore muscles down there…watching the sunset with a bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir, of course!
Tired surf bones need pinot noir.
Other fun things to do in Pacific City:
Pacific City has 3 different beach access: try beach combing, watch the dory boat launches, walking the sand dunes, horseback riding, beach fires at night
Clamming and crabbing. Pacific City Sporting Goods sells licenses and equipment
Try hang gliding. Find info at Kiwanda Kites Adventures Beach House.
Hiking. Good trails are Cape Lookout and Cascade Head
Best coffee house: Stimulus Café
Best breakfast: the Grateful Bread