Summer has hit Jerez hard, and as I am preparing to move at the end of the month, I haven’t been on any trips in a while in the attempt to save money. True, I could be spending time at the beach, but this pale girl can only stand so much sun.
Confession: I am no longer a food/travel blogger, but more like a “vegging-out-on-the-couch-with-the-air-con-on-blast-and-still-dying-from-the-heat” blogger. Is that a thing? No, it’s not, and it shouldn’t be, nobody wants to read that. So I’ve wandered back into the kitchen, trying to concoct recipes that don’t require turning on the stove or oven.


Also while in self-imposed prison, I peruse blogs with authors who are able to venture outside, like Sam from Explore the Map. She challenged me to make a dish inspired by her hike along Cannon Beach in Oregon, which she shares with us today. What better opportunity to make a vegan version of the summer favourite, ceviche?
As an exclusively vegetarian chef, it was important that I get creative, since fish is the main ingredient. Humming and hawing over what I could use, I finally came across a vegetable able to imitate the texture of our underwater friends: Hearts of palm!

Hearts of palm - a ex-fish lover's secret ingredient!

Hearts of palm – a ex-fish lover’s secret ingredient!

This mysterious ingredient is harvested from the core of certain species of palm trees. It’s fairly inexpensive and can be found in the preserved vegetable section of any grocery store.

The ingredients for this dish are simple, and you will be shocked at how similar it is to the real thing! But first to work up your appetite, Sam recounts her beach walk along Cannon Beach.

Exploring the Oregon Coast: Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach

The smell of the ocean washes over us as we dig our toes into the soft sand, letting the waves break over our feet. We sink slowly into the earth, one wave at a time. The sun is high overhead and beats down relentlessly, threatening to burn our exposed feet. We meander towards the towering silhouette of Haystack Rock and enjoy the fresh, salty beach air.

The iconic shape of Haystack Rock is hard to miss. It rises 235 feet above the sandy ocean floor and dominates the landscape. It’s a mere 2.4km south of the seaside town of Cannon Beach, Oregon, which makes it an easy adventure. At low tide, visitors can walk up to the base and explore the colourful tidepools where fascinating ocean creatures live. Nothing can be moved or climbed on within 300 yards of the base because the area is protected under the Marine Garden and Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. This is strictly enforced because it can take years for the delicate sea life to recover if damaged.

Haystack Rock looms eerily in the fog.

Haystack Rock looms eerily in the fog.

The birds of Haystack Rock

In addition to the wide variety of sea life, Haystack Rock plays home to many birds during the summer.

From early spring to mid-summer, Tufted Puffins burrow tunnels in the soil of the north slope for their eggs. According to, these puffins “are squat, black birds with large, bright orange bills, white facial features and tufts of yellow feathers above [their] eyes”.  As one of the most colourful birds that nest on Haystack Rock, they are popular among birdwatchers.

Pelagic Cormorants, a lanky, greenish-black bird, builds nests of seaweed on the precarious narrow shelves above the waves and are often seen with their wings outstretched, diving for fish. The Pigeon Guillemot, a white-winged, orange-footed bird,  is a minority on Haystack Rock and nests only three to ten meters above the waves and is extremely sensitive to humans. Seagulls, Black Oystercatchers, Harlequin Ducks, and occasionally Bald Eagles and Peregrine Falcons can also be spotted on Haystack Rock.

Tufted Puffins at Haystack Rock. Photo credit:

Falling in love with Cannon Beach & Haystack Rock

The road into Cannon Beach snakes off Highway 101 and winds its way through the rich forest before quietly entering the town. The streets are lined with cute, white picket homes and quaint, sea-inspired shops. It’s the quintessential beach town. We roll down our windows and let the salty air wash over us, welcoming us to this beautiful town.

We find free parking, but as we step out of our warm car we’re unexpectedly bombarded by a chilly downpour. Jumping back into our car, we watch the rain run down our windshield. Like many ocean communities, the rain quickly dissipates and a stunning, blue sky reveals itself. We wander the streets, gazing in awe at the pastel houses and peeking into the cute shops, wishing dearly that we could live here.

Haystack Rock.

We enjoy the wide expanse of Cannon Beach as we wander towards Haystack Rock, 2.4 km in the distance.

Exploring the beach

After dropping our newest finds off in our car, we wander to Whale Park where a small gazebo and whale statue commemorate this as the southernmost point visited by Lewis & Clark in 1806. The Park offers a great view of the Pacific Ocean and Ecola Creek as it becomes one with the ocean. Families and seagulls play in the Creek where the gentle waves of the ocean won’t disturb them. Located on the northernmost point of Cannon Beach, we cannot yet see the towering pillar of Haystack Rock as we descend to the beach.

It only takes a few moments of sinking in the soft sand before we remove our shoes. The sand becomes compact, almost spongy, as we near the water. We watch bubbles of air escape as waves roll over the sand, sometimes exposing tiny crabs. The sky disappears into the distance, meeting with the ocean and wispy clouds miles away. White-capped waves break along the beach and we stand in their wake, enjoying the cool water as it washes over our feet. The beach is full of people, yet my usual anxiety and itch to leave doesn’t overwhelm me; Cannon Beach is large enough to give the illusion of serenity despite the crowds.

Even on sunny, crowded  days it’s possible to find tranquility at Haystack Rock.

Even on sunny, crowded  days it’s possible to find tranquility at Haystack Rock.

Reaching Haystack Rock

The sun glistens overhead but the gentle breeze deceptively cools us and we’re soon red from head to foot. What starts as a small nub on the horizon quickly gathers mass and becomes the towering Haystack Rock, the sea stack we drove over 1,000 kilometers to see. The tide is in, so instead of exploring the hidden tide pools we settle onto a driftwood log. We watch tiny birds circle the monolith and spot members of the Haystack Rock Awareness Program, a volunteer program that educates the public on the sensitivity of the landmark, talking to people.

Haystack Rock’s creation

Looking at Haystack Rock and the adjacent formations, the Needles, we try to imagine how the landscape has changed. Roughly 16 million years ago some of the world’s largest lava flows ran rampant through the area, forever changing the terrain. When it eventually reached the ocean and cooled, the lava solidified into thick basalt and sat buried for years. The basalt gradually exposed  itself due to tectonic plate shifts and millions of years of erosion. This slowly created the jagged, rocky coastline that Oregon is famous for.

Information & Trailhead Location

There are many entrances to the beach throughout Cannon Beach, but our favourite is through Whale Park.  This way you can enjoy a beautiful walk down the beach before coming to Haystack Rock.  

Distance: ~ 5km (3 miles)

Duration: 1-2 hrs

Difficulty: Easy

Notes: Cannon Beach is a beautiful walk and if you visit at low tide you can explore the colourful tide pools at the base of Haystack Rock. However, it’s strictly prohibited to walk on, touch, and remove anything within 300 meters of the base. Once you’ve explored the beach, wander through the seaside town of Cannon Beach!

Recipe Time!

simple ingredients for vegan ceviche

Simple ingredients make for some powerful flavours in this ceviche!

I’ll admit, because I’ve been cooking for a while, I tend to complicate my life with a shit load of spices and ingredients in my recipes. Well the lazy summer days have hit, and I’m no longer about that. This recipe will take you 10 minutes to put together – no muss, no fuss! Throw the chopped up ingredients together, squirt over a bit of lime and chill in the fridge. Serve with a chilled beer or a frozen margarita and you are good to go!

Vegan ceviche made with hearts of palm, courgette, red onion, chilli, avocado, lime and cilantro

Print Recipe
Vegan Ceviche
This ceviche is colourful and oh so flavourful and you'll be shocked to find that it's completely vegan! Red onion, chili peppers, avocado and a twist of lime bring those familiar mexican flavours and textures to the secret non-fishy ingredient - hearts of palm! Best served cold and with your favourite tortilla chips, and perhaps a frozen margarita!
Vegan ceviche made with hearts of palm, courgette, red onion, chilli, avocado, lime and cilantro
Course Appetizer, lunch
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour
Course Appetizer, lunch
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour
Vegan ceviche made with hearts of palm, courgette, red onion, chilli, avocado, lime and cilantro
  1. Drain and rinse the hearts of palm. Dice them up into small rounds.
  2. Peel the zucchinis and chop into small cubes. Do the same with the avocado.
  3. Finely chop your red onion and chilli pepper. If you don't like a lot of heat, remove the seeds first. Roughly chop the cilantro.
  4. Add all of the prepared ingredients into a mixing bowl or large tupperware. Add zest and squeeze in the juice of two limes. Carefully mix together. You can add salt if you wish, but as the hearts of palm are quite salty, this may not be necessary.
  5. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour or overnight so that the flavours can intensify. Serve with tortilla chips and a cold beer or margarita!
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A big thanks to Sam for collaborating with me on this post! Check out her post about Mt St Helens where I also contributed a molten nutella lava cookie!