Road Trip: Whale Watching and Surfing in Westport

Watch whales, catch some waves and feast on the catch of the day in this coastal town, just a two-and-a half-hour drive from Seattle
Surfers head to Half Moon Bay to catch some powerful waves; charter boats take tourists out for a day of fishing or whale watching; at Loge Westport, you can spend the night and rent outdoor gear

This article appears in print in the March 2018 issueClick here to subscribe.

Called the “sports fishing capital of the world,” Westport was once best known for its large fleet of recreational fishing vessels. While charter fishing is still going strong, you’ll also find other water-focused attractions here that are perfect for spring. 

Whale Watch. Westport is one of the best places in Washington to spot Pacific gray whales, which hang out off the western coast of Washington from March to May, during their northern migration, to rest, mate and eat. Ocean Sportfishing  (Westport, 2549 Westhaven Drive, Float 12; 360.268.1000; $35‒$45, call for reservations) offers two daily whale-watching charter boat excursions—don’t forget your camera! 

Reel In A Big One. For more than 60 years, the town has held the Westport Charterboat Association Fishing Derby ($5) from March to September. Charter boats take participants out on the water to try for the biggest catch (salmon, tuna, halibut and others), competing for daily and weekly cash prizes—as well as the award for the biggest catch of the year (with a prize of up to $10,000).

Catch A Wave. Some of Washington’s biggest waves roll in here, making surfing a year-round attraction (wet suits required). First-timers should head down to Steepwater Surf Shop  (Westport, 316 N Montesano St.; 360.268.5527) and sign up for a group lesson ($115 per person) or one-on-one private instruction ($150 per person).

Experienced surfers can check out Half Moon Bay, a small cove to the east of the South Jetty, where swell conditions form more powerful waves. Not a surfer? You can watch the action at one of the area’s most popular surfing beaches, in Westhaven State Park (Westport, 2700 Jetty Haul Road; 360.268.9717).

Stay the Night. Billing itself as the ultimate surf camp, the Loge Westport (Westport, 1416 Montesano St. S; 360.268.0091$35‒$135 per night) offers accommodations ranging from hotel rooms to camping spots, a community outdoor kitchen, plus a variety of gear for rent, including stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, bikes and surfboards.  

Fill Up. In the morning, hit the local coffee stand, Capt’n Jack’s Espresso (Westport, 105 S Montesano St.; 360.268.6397; Facebook, “Capt’n Jack’s Espresso”) for a quick caffeine boost. For lunch or dinner, get your fill of fish and chips, crab cakes and clam chowder at Bennett’s Fish Shack  (2581 Westhaven Drive; 360.268.7380). Had your fill of seafood? At Aloha Alabama BBQ and Bakery (2309 Westhaven Drive; 360.268.7299) order the very messy—as it should be—pulled pork sandwich.

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