Yachats…….how do you even pronounce it?
I passed up Yachats for many years. It was too far south to make a day trip from Portland reasonable and it didn’t seem that interesting. Several years ago I was invited to perform at a Celtic festival in Yachats and ever since then this little town has been one of my favorites.
First off, Yachats is pronounced “YAH-hahts”. It’s supposed to be based on an Indian word, but has probably undergone some transformations and means something like “Dark water at the foot of the mountain”. Don’t you just love that?
Yachats is small and for most of the year I would describe it as sleepy. There is a high number of year-round residents here and the town has adopted strict ordinances for the number of cars and number of no-noise hours for vacation rentals in the area. This fact, combined with the mesmerizing rocky coastline makes Yachats my choice to visit when I need rest and renewal.
Yachats is unique among Oregon coast towns because it doesn’t really have a beach. Well, there is a pseudo-beach that appears at low tide along the river’s mouth, but most of the town overlooks a jagged coastline punctuated with low rock outcroppings. The waves do not tend to break until they are almost upon the shore and then they break on the rocks in a most spectacular fashion. Sometimes the foam gets so thick it looks like whipped cream. I can sit and watch the wave formations for hours.
If you don’t happen to have house or hotel from which to view the water, the state park on the corner of 2nd Street and Oceanview Drive is the best place to catch the action. There are a few benches and picnic tables there too.
I have never seen the foam so thick as it was early this month when I visited Yachats with my family. We were reminded of the Grimm fairy tale of The Little Porridge Pot. A young girl was given a magic porridge pot so she would never go hungry, but one day when she was gone the pot cooked and cooked until the entire town was overrun with porridge! I think someone dreamed up that story when they were starving. Fortunately (or unfortunately) the only edible foam here in Yachats is “Seafoam” candy.
Two blocks up 2nd st. from the state park are a couple of Yachats foodie spots. The Green Salmon Coffee Company serves their own locally roasted coffee, amazing tea blends, pastries and sandwiches. I love to grab a spicy chai tea blend to sip as I wander along the shoreline. The Luna Sea Fish House serves up the best fish-and-chips I’ve ever tasted! The fish comes directly from their own boats and is about as fresh as you can possibly get. As a health-conscious foodie, I love being able to get grilled fish in my platter rather than deep fried, and its great to know that the fishing has been done in a sustainable way.
Other things to do in Yachats
Yachats Commons hosts concerts, art shows and more and provides rental space for family reunions, weddings and events.
Overleaf Lodge offers a variety of spa treatments and are open to day guests.
The 804 Oregon Coast Trail can be started from Smelt Sands Recreation Area or from many of the Yachats side streets and gives walkers great views of the wave action and terminates at a sandy beach.
Yachats Brewing + Farmstore: I haven’t visited this spot myself, but it appears to be a beautiful space showcasing reclaimed NW timber, local food and beer.
If you think you’ve seen amazing waves in Yachats, just wait until you see the action at Cape Perpetua. Devil’s Churn, Thor’s Well, and Spouting Horn are rock formations that cause the waves to spray many feet into the air and create mesmerizing formations. The cape is also a great spot to see whales. The Visitor Center staff can tell you whether whales have been spotted and teach you how to look for them.
Newport is an hour north and is the town to visit if you like variety and busyness. The Oregon Coast Aquarium, the Hatfield Marine Science Center, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, The Wax Museum, Undersea Gardens, two lighthouses, the tide pools at Yaquina Head, cinemas, countless shops and restaurants and a performing arts center can all be found here.
Sea Lion Caves
About an hour south of Yachats is the odd, amazing, noisy world of sea lions. At the Sea Lion Caves, you can take an elevator down to a viewing platform over America’s largest sea cave. If the sea lions are at home, expect a riot.
Have you visited Yachats? Tell me in the comments if you have any favorite spots that I missed.