Whether you are staying in the Long Beach, Washington area, in Astoria, Oregon, or just want a fun day trip from Portland, you’ll want to add a Columbia River boat tour to your itinerary.
Columbia River Eco Tours, out of Astoria, has a planned route along the Columbia River that is anything but routine. Visitors can relax in the comfortable cabin or, better yet, ride up top for the best 360-degree view of the Columbia River you could ever wish for. Owner and Captain of the Christina Cousteau, Christopher Lloyd, will narrate the tour for you and keep you engaged with his tales of Astoria history, wildlife habitat and the shipping industry.
But what you’ll enjoy the most are the surprising finds along the way. You’ll start your trip by being welcomed aboard by Chris at dock D-5 in the West End Mooring Basin, Port of Astoria. The beautiful 40-foot Tollycraft yacht is ideal for river touring. There are plenty of indoor and outdoor viewing places.
You’ll head out of the yacht basin and under the four-mile long Astoria-Megler bridge (great camera angle!). The view of the waterfront will be a different one than you are used to. You’ll see the pilings underneath the docks, fisheries and restaurants. On one set of pilings we saw lumbering sea lions, high above the water just waiting for the tide to rise. Hundreds of their counterparts had taken over the docks to the east of that building. Chris maneuvered the boat past them but not so close as to scare them. They are endangered but, some say, so are the salmon they feed on so voraciously.
We passed close-by Coast Guard vessels and learned about the WWII role the area played. There was plenty of activity aboard the vessels we passed. I marveled at the size of the buoys that were destined to be aids to navigation out at sea.
I was thrilled to see an Osprey on her nest. Then it was on through an old railroad swing bridge and up the John Day River where we saw Bald Eagles and a Great Blue Heron. We imagined what the area would have been like during the time of explorers, Lewis and Clark.
Along the narrow inlet were floating homes, some rather interesting and elaborate. We spent time with binoculars in hand and then returned to the Columbia River to see such sights as a tugboat moving a barge and the immense hulls of cargo and grain ships. We got very close. That certainly is not a sight we landlubbers have the opportunity to see!
Our time on the Columbia went fast. As we returned to the yacht basin, it started raining. We retreated to the carpeted cabin with overstuffed lounge chairs and warmed up. It was a fitting end to a several-hour tour of the river. We all had our favorite experiences… the osprey nest, the stories about the Columbia River and Bar Pilots, the fish hatchery and the excitement of being out on the water very close to the big ships, usually only seen at a distance.
We had Chris to thank for this safe, well-organized and entertaining trip. Chris Lloyd is a man who has followed his dreams. He has a background in engineering and marine science. Ask him about his background and the story of how he met the founder of the company that made the Christina Cousteau. His tales will be as interesting as the sights you will see. And, since he follows his dreams, he shared with us that he was on his way for a quick visit to Honduras to purchase property and, eventually, a boat that just might be used for warm-weather tours when the weather in Astoria is cold and stormy.
Let me add my recommendation to the accolades you’ll read about on TripAdvisor. A tour of the Columbia River the Christina Cousteau will make for a great getaway or part of a coastal vacation.
Christopher Lloyd, owner
Columbia River Eco Tours
West End Mooring Basin
503-468-9197 or ColumbiaRiverEcoTours.com
Tours, which can be scheduled for various times and often start around 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., run $95 for two hours and sunset outings, $125 for three hours and $150 for four hours.
Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Information
Astoria Visitors Information
Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with a complimentary tour for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.