Whalen Island - Tillamook, Oregon

A map of the Cascadia Bioregion

Whalen Island is a sandy, forested island surrounded by the Sand Lake tidal estuary that sits roughly 1.6 kilometers from the ocean and several miles north of Pacific City on the North Coast of Oregon.

Whalen Island includes the Clay Myers State Natural Area and a Tillamook County Campground. There are numerous other natural areas and to explore within a short drive.

It is one of our favorite places to camp and explore on the Oregon Coast. It contains an abundance of natural beauty and opportunities for outdoor recreation. We tend to visit once or twice a year, traditionally to celebrate Rachel’s birthday with friends.

  1. Getting there
  2. Camping
  3. Recreation
    1. Hiking
    2. Kayaking & Boating
    3. Foraging & Fishing & Shellfishing
  4. Nearby Destinations
  5. Weblog Entries

Getting there

Whalen Island is approximately 100 kilometers from Portland. The easiest way to get to Whalen Island is via car or motorcycle. From Portland, the fastest route is Oregon Route 6, which takes you through the Northern Oregon Coast Range to Tillamook. From Tillamook, you follow US Highway 101 until you get to the local access roads. It’s also possible to travel here via the Oregon Coast Bike Route.


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The Whalen Island County Campground is the only camping facility on the island, and provides tent & RV camping. Potable water, toilets, and an RV sewage dump is available. Sites can be booked year round.

There is also camping nearby at Sand Lake Recreation Area and Pacific City.


Being a tidal estuary, Whalen Island is a host to a dynamic ecosystem that host a wide variety of plant & animal life. It makes for a beautiful place to passively observe nature, and a great place to responsibly use nature as a resource.


Whalen Island is host to a 1.5 mile hiking trail loop via the Clay Myers day-use area. Aside from the designated trail, you can easily cut your own trail through non-protected areas along the estuary.

Whale Island Trail (All Trails)

There are several desginated hiking trails that can also be found at some of the Nearby natural areas.

Kayaking & Boating

Kayaking & Boating are permitted within the estuary, however it’s shallow depth at low tide does not always make boating with a motor plausible. The Whalen Island County Campground includes a gravel boat launch where it is possible to launch a small boat, canoe, or kayak.

We’ve launched our small crab boat from the boat launch at hightide previously and beached it on the grass. If the tides do not line up well with your trip, it will likely be impossible to safely launch via trailer.

Foraging & Fishing & Shellfishing

Whalen Island provides a rich environment for harvesting food via the tidal estuary that surrounds it. This includes fishing, crabbing, clamming.


  • Surf Perch
  • Flounder
  • Trout
  • Sculpin


The estuary envirornment hosts a number of different shellfish. Purple Varnish Crabs are by far the easist thing to forage when the tide is low. Dungeness Crabs can also be found at low and high tides via Crab Pots or by wading & raking for buried crabs.

  • Dungeness Crab
  • Purple Varnish Clams

Nearby Destinations