The natural wonders of the Nehalem Valley give Manzanita its coastal beauty, and an added bonus is much less annual rainfall than the typical Oregon Coast village. Manzanita’s seven miles of pristine coastline run from the jetty at Nehalem Bay north to Neahkahnie Mountain at the edge of Oswald West State Park.
Oswald West chose this slice of the Oregon Coast for the announcement of his forward-thinking declaration that Oregon’s beaches should always remain free and open to all. Perhaps his enthusiasm was bolstered by the mouth of the jetty at Nehalem Bay at the south end of Manzanita. No, it must have been the seven miles of pristine coast that lead from the jetty to Neahkahnie Mountain and the million-dollar views in the unincorporated district of the same name. Maybe, but more than likely, it was the sun.
“Manzanita is a sun spot on the coast,” said broker and fifth generation Oregon Coast resident, Meadow Davis. “A lot of the coast fogs in when the valley is hot, but with our northwest winds and the way the mountain is situated, we get thirty-five to forty more days of sun per year.” Combine this with a generally warmer and drier Oregon over the past five years, and Davis said there has never been a better time to own a home on the Oregon Coast.
Davis grew up moving back and forth between Cannon Beach, where her family has multigenerational roots, and Neahkahnie, where her father lived. She moved away from the coast as an adult, but when she and her husband decided to return to the area six years ago, the 639-person town of Manzanita was the clear frontrunner for their homecoming.
“Cannon Beach had become more of a shopping mall than a place to live,” said Davis. “There are more town-like qualities here: a lumber yard, a medical clinic. It’s also a bit more affordable.”
The minute population count can be a bit deceiving, as Manzanita’s downtown is a lively hub of dining, shopping and hometown businesses. Just outside the urban growth boundary on the northern coast of Manzanita, its Neahkahnie rural residential area is home to an additional 200 to 300 people. All told, the three Nehalem Valley villages of Manzanita, Nehalem and Wheeler have a total population of approximately 1,500.
Davis described Manzanita as a vacation and resort community driven by tourism. Traditional Nehalem Valley jobs, such as fishing and logging, still exist—and the dairy industry has made a comeback—but the modern economy thrives on tourism. Manzanita’s occupancy rate hovers at 25 percent, as most homeowners call the village their second home.
“Views and walkability are two main drivers of value,” said Davis. “More than half of homes are within easy walking distance of downtown.”
Manzanita packs in culinary excellence, with dining options ranging from fine to fast. Neah-Kah-Nie Bistro and Big Wave Café shore up the finer end. San Dune pub and the summer farmers’ market are regular stops for locals. Quick stops such as “The Little Apple” Manzanita Market offer groceries and a great sandwich, and Bread and Ocean Bakery garner praise from both sleepy Sunday morning newspaper readers and adventure-seeking carb loaders.
There is no shortage of outdoor recreation here. Oswald West State Park pays homage to our progressive former governor and encompasses Neahkahnie Mountain, a marine preserve, surfing mecca Short Sand Beach, and thousands of forested acres with hiking and camping options. Nehalem Valley is also home to recreation at Nehalem Bay State Park, where salmon fishing, crabbing and boating are popular pastimes. Perhaps the best-kept secret of the area is the world- class kiteboarding and windsurfing scene.
“These recreation draws, along with our proximity to Portland, have gained us popularity with Portland Metro and Seattle area residents—really making Manzanita a destination,” said Davis.