Oregon is a coastal U.S. state in the Pacific Northwest known as the ‘Beaver State’, is known for its fantastic coastline. One of the only three states to share a coastline on the Pacific Ocean, Oregon is the ninth largest state in the U.S.
known for its diverse landscape of forests, mountains, farms and beaches. The city of Portland is famed for its quirky, avant-garde culture and is home to iconic coffee shops, boutiques, farm-to-table restaurants and microbreweries. Highlights include the Native American art in the Portland Art Museum, the Japanese Garden and the Lan Su Chinese Garden.
The state is known for its rocky seashore, deep canyons, mountains, high deserts, and impenetrable forests.
Salem is the capital city and English and Spanish are the two most-widely used languages in the state.
Oregon is also home to the deepest lake in the world above sea level – the Crater Lake National Park. If you are in the southern part of the state, don’t miss the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Let us now explore some of the best beaches of the state which is marked by its striking coastline.
1. Roads End State Recreation State
A classic, sandy beach experience is what visitors to Road End State Recreation State can expect every time they come here for a true beach experience. But, that is not all. This beautiful beach paradise located on Oregon’s Northern Coast is also renowned for its tide pools, lava rocks, and a hidden Cove.
The one-mile distance between the parking space and the waters is adorned with numerous beach cottages and remarkable residential buildings.
The south end of the point is home to several impressive tide pools while a short walk further up and over the large rocks bring you to a hidden, rather romantic Cove. The spot is perfect for photographers.
Kiteboarding is quite a popular sport here and visitors can spot several seabirds flying in and out of the surrounding area. Source: oregonstateparks.org
2. Otter Rock and Devils Punch Bowl State Natural Area
Otter Rock and Devils Punch Bowl are known as one of the most histrionic headlands on Oregon’s coast.
Home to a unique sandstone bowl formation which was formed due to the collapse and union of two caves, Otter Rock and Devils Punch Bowl is a highly-preferred spot for day picnics followed by a stunning sunset below Gull Rock.
Come late December and early January, the waters become a hotspot for the cyclic gray whale migration.
To enjoy the sandstone bowl formation or spend the day exploring the tide pools, make your way down the Marine Garden’s Beach trail.
3. Cannon Beach
One of the most significant and popular beaches of Oregon, Cannon Beach offers spectacular visions which are further complemented with a plethora of activities and rich flora and fauna.
Cannon Beach is also home to one of Oregon’s legendary landmarks – the Haystack Rock. Standing at 235 feet from the shoreline of Cannon Beach, the Haystack Rock is an impressive sight to capture, especially during low tide. Get a little closer and you can spot sea stars, crabs and anemones sticking to the base of the rock while puffins rest on it. Other notable sea creatures on and around the rock are California mussels, gooseneck barnacles, purple sea urchins, and black leather chiton.
While the tide pools in the area are open to the public, the Rock is preserved as a part of Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge area.
The adjoining Ecola State Park is a great spot for short and long hikes and a sunset picnic to wrap up the day.
4. Cobble Beach – Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area
An ornithologist’s’ haven, Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area is home to some of the most lively and dense tidal pools in the Northern Oregon Coast. The area is an amalgamation of cultural and natural jewels which aren’t easily comparable.
While the state’s tallest and second oldest lighthouse stands majestically on the headland, the waters here host a variety of sea creatures such as sea lions, harbour seals, and even the seasonal gray whale. The lighthouse has been functional since 1872 and is still used to guide mariners along the coast.
There are several walking trails around the park and Cobble beach sits below the headland. Interesting basalt rocks decorate the shoreline while thousands of nesting birds rest on them, making this a perfect photo opportunity.
5. Pacific City
Previously known as Ocean Park, Pacific City has been a major attraction for vacationers in Oregon. Of course, the obvious reasons are the big surf, Bob Straub State Park, fishing and paddling options on Nestucca Bay, and the iconic Cape Kiwanda.
Even though the region is bustling with tourist attractions and activities, the calm and relaxed atmosphere of the area makes it even more likable.
The presence of recreational dories here and there still allows for driving on the beach but it is best avoided unless you want your beach view turning into a parking lot view.
The famous Inn at Cape Kiwanda keeps the beer tab flowing and it is just a short walk from here to the dunes. There is also another pub in the area and a grocery market.
6. Gearhart Beach
Far less crowded than its neighboring beaches, Gearhart Beach is known for its long and almost flat coastline.
There are two entrances to the beach – from Highlands Lane which lets you drive as far as 8-miles onto the beach till Warrenton in the North, and from Pacific Way beach which doesn’t let you drive on the beach but gives you access to indoor restaurants, picnic areas, and basketball and volleyball courts.
During low tide, you can try clamming or collecting sand dollars. Alternatively, you can light up a fire by the beach but don’t burn driftwood – it’s prohibited.
The beach is perfect for joggers, walkers and even for enthusiasts who like kite-flying and beach volleyball, though you must bring your own net for the latter.
7. China Beach
Located within the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Centre, China Beach is perhaps the least visited beach which gives you an exclusive opportunity to enjoy this long, sandy beach by yourself.
The shoreline is mostly enclosed by large cliffs covered in towering trees and the solitary nature of the beach makes ample room for you to go on a treasure hunt – shells, driftwood, and other sea items.
North Island Viewpoint is a short walk and offers a great viewpoint. You can also go on a nice trek to enjoy the stunning vistas surrounding you – start at the North Island Trail Viewpoint sign, walk through dense, eerie forests, and find the soft sands of the China beach to welcome you at the end of your 1.2-mile round trip.
8. Harris Beach State Park
Home to the largest atoll off of the Oregon shoreline, Bird Island, Harris Beach State Park is named after the Scottish pioneer George Harris. The island is a National Wildlife Sanctuary and serves as the rearing ground to several species of coastal birds.
One of the most significant features of the State Park is its huge parking space which offers ample area for RV camping and setting up tents. The camping area is equipped with six yurts, showers with hot water, flush toilets, and even an RV dump station.
The entire camping experience on the park grounds just by the beach makes for a great vacation option for all kind of visitors.
While some visit here during the winters to experience the theatrical coastal storms, others like spending their summers by the cool breeze of the ocean.
9. Horsfall Beach
Imagine 47-miles of sand dunes and strikingly panoramic wetlands! Horsfall Beach, located within the Oregon National Recreational Area, is one of the most active beaches in Oregon and well-liked by visitors from all around the world.
The beach area is a hub of tourist activities and offers recreational facilities such as hiking, horse riding, surf fishing, and off-roading.
Come summer, the beach is the perfect spot for beachcombing, sun basking, and swimming. The winter storms, on the other hand, unveil ageless shipwrecks that have rested on the coast for endless years.
Visitors who wish to stay overnight can camp in the designated campground located two miles from the Coos Bay.
10. Meyers Beach
Coined as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Meyers Beach is a common sight in several commercials, movies, and TV shows.
Fun especially during low tide, Meyers Beach is home to several sea stacks, some of which also have tunnels that are easily accessible on foot.
The shallow bays around the beach makes it a great spot for surfers, windsurfers, and other adrenaline-junkies who like indulging in extreme water sports.
Come sunrise and sunset, Meyers Beach is flocked with photography enthusiasts who gather here to capture the perfect views of the sun rising and setting into the far-fetched horizon leaving all kinds of hues into the reflecting waters and the surroundings.
11. Moolack Beach
Located within proximity of the Beverly beach, a hotspot for RV and tent campers, Moolack Beach offers solitude and serenity, unlike its other touristy counterparts.
The 5-mile long beach is a great location for surfers, wildlife enthusiasts, birdwatchers, and beachcombers who often flock here to enjoy the best of the flora and fauna that the area has to offer.
The rather peaceful ambiance makes for a perfect, lazy beach holiday.
Moolack Beach is also popular among surfers for its brilliant surfing conditions.
If you get restless of the tranquillity that the area offers, head to Beverly Beach, or explore Yaquina Head Lighthouse – the state’s tallest and the second-oldest lighthouse.
12. Rockaway Beach
Rockaway Beach is a great hit among families and is known for its long stretch of golden sand that adorns the stunning coast of Oregon.
Walking and beachcombing along the coastline to discover exquisite sea items is another attraction in the area. While shells and other smoothed-down glass segments are a popular sight, you can also spot Japanese glass floats that wash up the shore occasionally after spending 10 years in the sea.
Tide pools at the surrounding rocky area offer a great opportunity for spotting the region’s flora and fauna. Additionally, the neighboring areas provide huge prospects for hiking, fishing, birdwatching, and kite flying.
13. Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor
True to its name, Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor is a scenic stretch of 12-mile-long coastline that swarms with a network of trails. Home to several steep cliffs, forest areas, sandy beaches and endless viewpoints, the beauty of this beach area is unparalleled to any of its kind.
For wildlife enthusiasts, the Corridor is a dream. Various species of sea creatures, exotic birds, and coastal flora flood the region making it even more spectacular.
On foot is the best way to explore the park and the beach area. One of the many trails along the coastline includes a 27-mile stretch of Oregon Coast Trail.
Secret Beach provides the best opportunity to discover the beauty and diversity of Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. Thunder Rock Cove, a slight diversion from Secret Beach, is worth a visit.
14. Sunset Bay State Park
Renowned as one of the most picturesque locations along the Oregon Coast, Sunset Bay State Park is just a short distance from the beach.
The Park is perfect for RV and tent campers and offers various camping facilities such as hot showers and flush toilets. There are eight yurts and two large tent camping spots in the area.
The trails that surround the campground offer immaculate views of the Oregon coastline.
On a clear day, you can easily spot Gregory Point and Cape Arago Lighthouse from specific points along the trail.
The State Park is within proximity to a golf course and the fishing village of Charleston.
15. Bullards Beach State Park
A great hit among family vacationers, Bullards Beach State Park offers a lot of outdoor recreational activity options. A huge hit among history buffs, the State Park is located north of Bandon on the southern coast of Oregon.
The State Park and day use area house several picnic areas and group picnic shelters with facilities such as barbeque and horseshoe pelts.
The beach can be accessed at the end of the road where you can also spot the notable Coquille River. Information about the geology of the region and how the state’s coastline has been affected by tsunamis can be found at one of the many interpretive signs.
Bullards Beach is approximately 4-mile-long and is a perfect spot for beachcombers.
Coastal birds such as cormorants, gulls, and brown pelicans can be spotted around the beach.