One of the most appealing parts of being in the Pacific Northwest is its proximity to mountains, desert and water, making this region a virtual playground for outdoor recreation. As a Washington state native, I have seen more and more people flocking to the mountains and climbing areas in recent years than ever before. Meanwhile, cold water surfing has also been gaining popularity, driving people out to our coast. And maybe surprisingly, not all the boards you see strapped precariously atop AWD vehicles are for stand-up paddle boarding.
Unlike the Oregon coast and Vancouver Island, BC, where surfing’s popularity has been thriving for years, most surf destinations in Washington state have little to offer visitors beyond the beach itself. The beach isn’t always easily accessible from urban centers without a long drive or possibly even a ferry ride and gear-laden hike. The closest surf access for most Washington urbanites is in Westport, Washington – a small fishing town in Gray’s Harbor county with a historically challenged economy and beginner-advanced surf options.
I started coming to Westport as a teen. Today, the signs of cold water surfing’s rise are everywhere in Washington State. The Surfrider Foundation’s research of the area’s recreational coastline use is one sign, as well as the lineup of surfers’ cars down the road. The growth of the sport correlates with trends in the greater outdoor recreation industry, which could be related to increased density and urbanization. As our cities fill up, people need more outlets to get outside. Throw in an increasing cultural bias towards prioritizing experiences over things and it becomes clear why surfing is gaining popularity here.
What matters most is not catching tubes on your first day here, like Johnny Utah dressed head-to-toe in brand new Patagonia gear. Instead, the important thing is understanding how can we use this trend to drive positive change in these natural spaces. As use increases, it is our obligation to help protect the natural environment and support the economies of surrounding communities so future generations can continue enjoying it.
We can all play a role in protecting these recreational gems. For me, this effort took form in launching the Loge Camps project,. We are restoring a retro motel to provide much-needed amenities for surfers and other beach enthusiasts about two hours from Seattle. This property rehabilitation will create a new array of stay options like a tent or RV for camping, hostel bunks and even private motel rooms for traveling surfers. The site’s plans feature everything from wetsuit drying and board storage to covered outdoor cook sites and an outdoor movie screen. But outside the grounds of Loge, the project is bringing together a local surf school, a local shaper, apparel company and even a variety of unique coastal restaurants and hotels that are all working together to revive this amazing place through a shared love of our coastal environment. It’s an effort that might be giving Washington State a much-needed cultural hub just for surfers.
Editor’s Note: Learn more about the Loge Camps Project’s Kickstarter here.