The Harbor Life at Depoe Bay

Entrance to the harbor at Depoe Bay, OR.  Photo: KGilb.

Entrance to the harbor at Depoe Bay, OR. Photo: KGilb.

Depoe Bay is a cozy community of about 1300 people located along the central coast of Oregon. Its biggest claim to fame? Depoe Bay has the smallest navigable harbor in the world! Dimensions: 750 feet long, 390 feet wide, and 8 feet deep at mean low tide. Entrance to this unique natural harbor is made by shooting through a treacherously narrow channel that’s only about 50 feet wide and bounded on each side by basalt rock walls.

“Shooting the hole” is not for inexperienced navigators nor for the faint-of-heart, even on a relatively calm day. Watch this video and we think you’ll agree!

Depoe Bay is also known as the “Whale Watching Capital of Oregon.” Hundreds of whale-watchers gather here each year to search for telltale spouts out on the ocean as 200-300 gray whales make their way from Alaska all the way down to Mexico and back again. There’s also a resident pod of gray whales which takes up residence here from March through December. The kelp beds out in the bay provide a rich harvest of the mysid shrimp that whales love to eat.

A huge seawall runs the entire length of the downtown area. The perfect vantage point to watch for the flip of a fan tail as a whale dives deep. Not content to watch from shore? Whale watching trips aboard cruisers or speedy Zodiac boats leave the harbor almost every hour.

The seawall is also the perfect place to get up close and personal with a spouting horn: Geysers of salt water that shoot up into the air as high as 50-60 feet. Standing close to one is guaranteed to leave you breathless!

Want to try your hand at a little fishing? Depending on the season, charter boats loaded with sport fishermen leave harbor at dawn throughout the year in search of ling cod, Chinook and Coho salmon, halibut, albacore tuna, Dungeness crab, and about 20 different varieties of rockfish.

And when you get tired of the ocean–if you get tired of the ocean–don’t forget to check out the rest of Depoe Bay! This friendly little coastal town also has an eclectic mix of gift shops, boutiques, art galleries, coffee shops, and restaurants (many with fresh seafood on the menu). Linger a little longer and enjoy the harbor life!

Depoe Bay is located on Highway 101 about 100 miles S/SW of Portland OR. It lies almost equidistant between the towns of Newport and Lincoln City OR. For a map of the area, please check out the website.

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