The many ways to enjoy Newport’s working bayfront include buying fresh seafood off the docks, dining with a Yaquina Bay view, or taking selfies with stars made of wax. Now a local nonprofit is launching Newport Kayak Tours to give people a chance to see the bay from a different perspective, even if they’ve never even set foot in a kayak.
“It’s a really cool experience to see the bay front this way,” said Brian Getting, executive director of the Oregon Boating Foundation, which runs the touring trips. “I love having the opportunity to show off this part of our unique town.”
The OBF created the tours to not only show off the people and animals that use the bustling bay, but also to provide healthy jobs for young people.
“Some of the kids from our summer camps in Newport and Toledo just kept coming back every year and we didn’t know what else to do with them,” Getting said. “We came up with the idea for the tours because no-one else was doing it, but also because we loved the idea of providing jobs for young people that use the knowledge and skills they gained at our camps.”
The two-hour tours start at Port Dock 7 on the east side of the bay, and wind carefully between the docks and the sea wall toward the photo-friendly Yaquina Bay Bridge.
“Everyone loves getting shots of that bridge,” Getting said. “We go as close as we can depending on the conditions.”
Getting took me out for a sample tour on a gray, still day on a two-person kayak with me sitting in the front seat.
His love for the area, respect for the people that make their living from it as well as all the plants and animals that are trying to survive there was palpable, as he answered every question I could come up with.
For example, when we started skimming over a large patch of aquatic grass, I asked if it was an invasive species.
“Eel grass is not only native but is a very important plant in the bay,” he said. “It’s very protected; even when NOAA [the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] was building their new facility here, they had to replant as much of what they took out as possible.”
I was warm and dry in the paddling pants and jacket that all tour participants receive, along with the boat, paddle and life preserver.
“I love this story arc,” Getting said. “A kid comes in and takes one of our youth classes [adult and family classes are also available], and if they get hooked they take our advanced camp. At the end of the advanced camp, they are ready to be guides and work for us for the summer.”
Scholarships are available for all the camps, and guiding spots are also open for kids at least 18 years old, who can either attend a camp or contact the OBF directly for training.
“A lot part of our programs include things like the importance of wearing life jackets and not going out in conditions you shouldn’t,” Getting said. “Boating is a way of life in this community, the earlier you are exposed to that the better.”
That being said, the kayak tours run rain or shine.
“I actually love being out here on lightly rainy days,” Getting said. “Especially because that usually means there is no wind. But we will for sure cancel if there are unsafe conditions like high winds or lightning storms.”
Getting and the other members of the OBF, including founder Tom Murphy, hope the Newport Kayak Tours will get more people excited about this fun watersport.
“We’re so lucky to have this great boathouse on this beautiful bay,” Getting said. “Plus kayaks are so easy; you just throw them on the car, drive somewhere cool, take them off, hop in them and go.”
Newport Kayaking Tours are $40 person and will run Tuesday through Sunday beginning June 25. The first tour is at 9 am, with the last tour leaving at 6 pm. To book online or for more information about the tours or the kids and adult boating camps and classes, go to oregonboatingfoundation.org or call 800-806-4882.