Visit Nehalem Bay State Park: A Beautiful Crabbing and Fishing Spot on Oregon Coast’s Sand Spit

Visit Nehalem Bay State Park: A Beautiful Crabbing and Fishing Spot on Oregon Coast’s Sand Spit
Photo by Thom Erickson from Flickr
SHARE - Located on the Oregon Coast, on the Nehalem Spit, a 4-mile sand spit west of Nehalem Bay, Nehalem Bay State Park features day-use areas, a campground, a bike path, and a beach. There is an airstrip for small planes, the Nehalem Bay State Airport, and an amphitheater that has interpretative programs throughout the summer months.

The campground is nestled among shore pines, just a sand dune away from the beach. The forested 1.8-mile long bike path provides a breathtaking view of the bay. You may see deer and elk grazing and a variety of birds. Kayaking, crabbing, fishing, and clamming are activities mostly popular amongst visitors.

To learn more about the park, the wildlife residing within, and the amenities provided, read this guide on visiting Nehalem Bay State Park and plan your days ahead!

Nehalem Bay State Park Oregon

Nehalem Bay State Park crabbing

Photo by Jim K from Flickr

Crabbing and clamming are one of the most popular activities amongst visitors. Nehalem Bay offers both beach and boat access to softshell and purple varnish clam beds. If you don’t know where to start, look at the charts depicting popular, productive shellfishing areas as follows:

Photo by

Here’s a brief explanation of the areas:

  • Area 1 requires a boat for access. This area is a large mud flat containing mostly softshell clams and walking can be difficult. A shovel or clam gun would be best to use in this area.
  • Area 2 requires a boat for access. As with Area 1, this area contains softshell clams, and walking can be difficult. A shovel or clam gun would be best to use in this area.
  • Area 3 again as with Areas 1 and 2, you will find softshell clams though the sand is a little firmer and walking isn’t as difficult. A shovel or clam gun would be best to use in this area.
  • Area 4 can be reached by either boat or bank/walk-in. Bank/walk-in access is obtained from Nehalem Bay State Park boat ramp area and by walking south. A mix of softshell and purple varnish clams will be found in this area. Here a shovel or clam gun would be best.
  • Area 5 will require a boat for access. This area has a mixture of sand and gravel. Here a shovel or garden fork (heavy tined) would work best for digging. Although softshell clams primarily dominate this area a few butter clams can also be found.
  • Area 6 will require a boat for crabbing. Pots may be set anywhere within this area, using caution to avoid direct placement in navigation channels.

Nehalem Bay State Park fishing

Photo by Steve Carter from Flickr

Aside from the crabbing and clamming, Nehalem Bay sure is a beautiful spot offering exceptionally good fishing. The big draws here include an excellent run of summer and fall Chinook salmon, and some very good perch fishing, as well as a secret spot for Oregon sturgeon and trout fishing.

There are several communities on the bay offering fishing and shellfishing supplies and rental boats and equipment. You can camp and use Nehalem Bay State Park as your local base as there is a launch at the park.

Nehalem Bay State Park day-use areas

Photo by Jim K from Flickr

There are two day-use areas offering access to the bay or ocean with restrooms and picnic areas with fire rings. Bay-side day-use includes a boat ramp. The boat docks are seasonal (typically mid-May to mid-October).

Kayak tours and horseback rides are available through the following businesses:

Kayak Tillamook kayak tours on Nehalem Bay |  503-866-4808

Oregon Beach Rides horseback rides |  971-237-6653

Nehalem Bay State Park camping

Photo by Erin Chatfield from Flickr

Nehalem Bay State Park campground is open and accepting reservations up to 30 days in advance. Here are some camping facilities you can enjoy:

  • 265 electrical sites with water
  • 18 Nehalem Bay State Park yurts (9 pet-friendly)
  • Flush toilets
  • Horse camp with 17 primitive sites
  • Hiker/biker camp
  • Airport camp with 2,400' airstrip and primitive fly-in sites
  • RV dump station
  • Meeting hall
  • Playgrounds
  • One extra vehicle per site
  • Ranger station open with limited hours

Hotels near Nehalem Bay State Park

Photo by Inn at Manzanita on Google Maps

Nestled among a garden accented with spruce and pine trees, Inn at Manzanita is just a 2-minute walk from the beach, 1.2 miles from Nehalem Bay State Park, and 4.8 miles from Nehalem Bay Winery.

This relaxed inn offers rooms set in a few separate buildings. The rustic-chic, wood-paneled rooms feature vaulted ceilings and open layouts. Amenities include kitchenettes, whirlpool tubs, fireplaces, and decks, plus cable TV and Wi-Fi access. Suites offer sofa beds, full kitchens, and dining rooms.

There's a mature garden with seating areas, and complimentary tea and locally roasted coffee are available.


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