Cowabunga Canines

Cowabunga Canines

Surfing has gone to the dogs and no where is this more true than in Westport, Wash. Why? Because, not only are the waves off Westport ideal for riding, but the town itself caters to our canine companions. Cowabunga!
Written by Brenda Bryan | Photography by Emily Rieman | Click on images to enlarge
My husband and I, and our surfer friends have traveled frequently from Seattle to Westport for fun-filled surf weekends for the past few years. Many of us have dogs—we have two, Nelson and Gus—and have noticed how friendly Westport is to our four-legged family members. Local businesses are dedicated to welcoming dog loving surfers more than ever before and with a seemingly endless expanse of sandy beaches, where leashes are optional, and the Harold Hardy Trail running parallel to the shore, which recently increased a number of pet stations, it’s easy to understand why Westport now claims to be the dog friendliest beach in Washington state.

On a recent visit, we talked to a number of local proprietors about some of the ways Westport caters to surfers and their dogs. One of them is Best Friends Days, organized by business owner Mike Coverdale, which features a festival in June with dog-related vendors, dog costume contests, scavenger hunts and a dog friendly fun run. Upping the ante, Westport also has its own dog-centric Facebook page called Westport WA Goes to the Dogs, a fantastic resource for finding out the scoop on canine activities happening around town.

Our meeting with Mike takes place at one of our favorite places in town, the Mermaid Deli. It’s also a favorite of Nelson and Gus, who love the Mermaid’s completely enclosed backyard where well-behaved dogs can roam free while their people indulge in pints of beer and a wide array of delicious sandwiches at the picnic tables. For rainy days—this is the Northwest, after all—there is indoor seating and owner Carol Glover is adding a heated, covered patio area for diners and their dogs. Long time employee, Krystin Kintscher shares with us how much they love their four-legged patrons. “Just make sure to pick up the poop,” she says, while her boss Carol doles out pieces of deli meat to Gus and his canine friends Lily, Buddy and Bebe. I spot Nelson begging at another table and as I go to apologize, the response sums up our experience, “No problem, it’s part of the atmosphere here.”

As we explore more of Westport, we find another dog-friendly patio at the Half Moon Bay Bar & Grill, located just down the street from the Mermaid, at the end of the marina, where they claim to make the best Bloody Mary in Washington. The patio is open in the summer, where you can relax with your dog after a long day of surfing, and treat yourself to a Bloody Mary (or two) complete with all of the requisite garnishes plus some added delights like a jumbo shrimp, pepperoni stick and cubes of cheddar cheese. Yum!

If you need a place to stay, the adjacent Islander Motel features dog-friendly rooms, many with a view of the marina. Also, the newly-opened Westport Marina Cottages, where you and your pooch can explore the docks at the marina or the beaches of Half Moon Bay. Or, there is Glenacres Historic Inn, which boasts several dog-friendly rooms and cute cottages. They also have a generous green space for Rover to run and a big fire pit, where you and your surf buddies can sit around the campfire and share stories about the day’s best waves.

Glenacres’ owner Steve says he came to realize that dog owners are just the type of customer he wants, so like many of his fellow Westport proprietors, he caters to them and their canine compantions.

Another such place that wholeheartedly throws out the welcome mat for Fido and friends is Vacations by the Sea—one of our favorite, dog friendliest, and most beautiful places to stay in all of Westport.

Conveniently located at the head of the Harold Hardy Trail, the condominiums at Vacations by the Sea offer a plethora of amenities for humans. There is a putting green, seasonal heated pool, and year-round Jacuzzi, for example. The fully furnished, two-bedroom, two-bath condos are available to rent for a night (or several) or you can purchase one for your own personal getaway. Our condo overlooks the ocean, with a fantastic deck where the dogs can check out the action while we enjoy the view. Our open living room, kitchen and dining area is perfect for entertaining our surf peeps after a long day in the water. And, Nelson and Gus love relaxing by the gas fireplace after a day playing on the beach.

At Vacations by the Sea, there is easy access to the beach to let the dogs run, search for sand dollars, and check out the sunset. However, the surfing happens at Westhaven State Park (2700 Jetty Haul Road; parks.wa.gov/285/westhaven). A nice walk with your dog down the paved Harold Hardy Trail or a short drive with your surfboards, Westhaven State Park features 1,215 feet of shoreline on the Pacific Ocean and Half Moon Bay, with beach access to both shores.

Sitting along the South Jetty, the park is a popular destination for surfing and fishing. When the surf’s up, the Westhaven parking lot is packed full of cars with surfboards strapped to the roof and all shapes and sizes of dogs walking and running about with their people.

Before, after or in-between surf sessions your dog can run free and play on the long expanse of beach. Our dogs enjoy chilling out in our surf van while we hang out in the parking lot after surf sessions. Whether you surf or not, Westhaven is a fun and friendly place to hang out—much like Westport itself.

If you don’t have your own equipment for enjoying the surf, you can rent boards and wetsuits at the Surf Shop. The Surf Shop has been around for at least 20 years and can advise novices and experts on all things surf related in Westport. The friendly staff will hook you up with experienced, local surfers if you need some lessons or want to check out a surf camp. Once you have your gear, whether you choose to take a lesson or just wing it on your own, Westhaven State Park is perfect for beginner’s pop-up practice in the white water and more challenging waves for the more advanced if you paddle out to the line up. For beginners, the waves are friendlier in the summer and fall months.

With 18 miles of beautiful, sandy beach, groomed trails, awesome waves and dog-friendly accommodations, Westport is the perfect fido-friendly surf getaway. Cowabunga, indeed! 

More Information
Vacations by the Sea
260 East Dock Street, Westport
360.268.1119; vacationbythesea.com

Westport Marina Cottages
481 E. Neddie Rose Drive, Westport
360.268.1119; marinacottages.com

Glenacres Historic Inn
222 Montesano Street, Westport
360.268.0958; glenacresinn.com

The Mermaid Deli
200 East Patterson, Westport
360.612.0435; mermaiddeli.com

Half Moon Bay Bar & Grill
421 Neddie Rose Drive, Westport; 360.268.9166

The Surf Shop
4207 N Montesano Street, Westport
360.268.0992; westportsurfshop.com
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