Tillamook Bay’s commercial fishing fleet is concentrated in this little port town (pop. 970) near the north end of the bay. Garibaldi, named in 1879 by the local postmaster for the Italian patriot, is a fish-processing center: Crabs, shrimp, fresh salmon, lingcod, and bottom fish (halibut, cabezon, rockfish, and sea perch) are the specialties.
At the marina, Bayocean Seafood (608 Commercial Dr., 503/322-3316) gets it right off the boats, so the selection is both low-priced and fresh; so is the crab, fish, and other seafood available next door at Oregon Gourmet (606 Commercial Dr., 503/322-2544). If you want it fresher, you’ll have to catch it yourself.
And the town’s fishing and crabbing piers do attract hordes who want to catch their own. Rent fishing boats, crab traps, and other gear at the Garibaldi Marina (302 Mooring Basin Rd., 503/322-3312). In addition to dock fishing, guide and charter services offer salmon and halibut fishing, bird-watching, and whale-watching excursions.
North of Garibaldi on U.S. 101, the bay entrance is a good place to see brown pelicans, harlequin ducks, oystercatchers, and guillemots. The Miami River marsh, south of town, is a bird-watching paradise at low tide, when ducks and shorebirds hunt for food.
Garibaldi Maritime Museum
The small but interesting Garibaldi Maritime Museum (112 Garibaldi Ave., 503/322-8411, www.garibaldimuseum.com, noon–4 p.m. Thurs.–Mon. May–Oct., $3 adults, $2.50 seniors and children 5–18) retells the history of this longtime fishing village. It also focuses on the late-18th-century sailing world and the British sea captain Robert Gray and his historical vessels, the Lady Washington and the Columbia Redivivia, which explored the Pacific Northwest in 1787 and 1792.
Among the museum displays are models of these ships, an eight-foot-tall reproduction of the Columbia figurehead, a half model of the Columbia showing how the ship was provisioned for long voyages, as well as reproductions of period musical instruments and typical sailors’ clothing.
Oregon Coast Explorer Trains
The Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad (503/842-8206, www.ocsr.net, summer weekends, $15 adults, $7 children 3–10) operates a number of rail excursions on a train pulled by a 1910 Heisler Locomotive Works engine between Garibaldi and Rockaway Beach.
The basic tour is 1.5 hours round-trip; trains depart Garibaldi at noon, 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. with opportunities to board in Rockaway Beach at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Dinner trains are also offered, and during the height of summer, trains occasionally run on weekdays. It’s a good idea to check the website or call the office to find out what is on the calendar during your visit.
The Miami River and Kilchis River, which empty into Tillamook Bay south of Garibaldi, get the state’s only two significant runs of chum salmon, a species much more common from Washington northward. There’s a catch-and-release season for them mid-September–mid-November. Both rivers also get runs of spring chinook and are open for steelhead most of the year.
Several charter companies have offices at the marina. Garibaldi Charters (607 Garibaldi Ave., 503/322-0007, www.garibaldicharters.com) offers fishing excursions (a full day of salmon fishing runs about $100) and wildlife-viewing or whale-watching trips ($40 per person).
If you want to wake up on the docks, spend the night at Harbor View Inn (302 S. 7th St., 503/322-3251, $75 and up), a motel popular with fishers and sportsmen. There are also a couple of chain motels (Econolodge and Comfort Suites) up on the highway.
Both tent and RV campers are welcome at Barview Jetty County Park (503/322-3522, $15–30, reservations accepted), a large campground with easy access to the beach forming the north side of Tillamook Bay. Most of the sites are for tents, with a section reserved for hikers and bikers; hot showers are a welcome amenity.
One of the joys of eating on the Oregon coast is getting really good fish-and-chips from rough-edged dives on the docks. In Garibaldi, the Fisherman’s Korner Restaurant (306 Mooring Basin, 503/322-2033, 8 a.m.–2 p.m. Thurs.–Mon., $6–12) is right on the wharf and offers absolutely fresh fish-and-chips and excellent clam chowder. Breakfasts here are massive—meant for hungry sailors.
Just north of Garibaldi, Pirate’s Cove Restaurant (14170 U.S. 101 N., 503/322-2092, noon–9 p.m. Mon.–Tues., 8 a.m.–9 p.m. Wed.–Sat., 8 a.m.–8 p.m. Sun., dinner $10–30) is one of the better restaurants between Manzanita and Lincoln City, with a dramatic vista of the mouth of Tillamook Bay. Try the local oysters and razor clams. Lunches are a better deal than the rather expensive dinners.
Four miles south at the little enclave of Bay City is another temple to seafood. Pacific Oyster (5150 Oyster Bay Dr., 503/377-2323, 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Sun.–Thurs., 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Fri.–Sat., $5–16) is mostly an oyster-processing center, but it’s also an excellent spot for a few oyster shooters or a quick meal. Although there are a variety of seafood choices, the main draw is the oysters, which here are both for eating and entertainment. As you eat, you can watch the oyster-shuckers in action next door, as the dining area overlooks the oyster-processing area.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel