Out of all the coastlines in the continental US, Oregon might take the cake for being the most dramatic. Soaring sand dunes, miles-long beaches, cascading waterfalls, scraggy old growth forests and Americana hamlets define the 363 miles of the Oregon Coast. Since the Pacific Ocean isn’t a hot tub and Oregon is far from the warmest state, many visitors to the shore come simply to enjoy the majesty of the scenery and seaside towns. Others brave the hypothermia and suit up for some simply wicked surfing in coves that are far less crowded than their Californian counterparts. No matter what you are looking for, the Oregon Coast provides.
Editor’s note: These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.
Only a short drive (or hike!) from tourist hotspot Canon Beach, Indian Beach is a local favorite for surfers and sunbathers alike. This smaller beach is defined by the breathtaking view of massive rock outcroppings that jut out from the shoreline. Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, far out in the sea, can also be seen rising out of the sea spray like a great black castle. This is perhaps the best beach in the state to take in a sunset over the mighty Pacific.
Oswald West State ParkNehalem, United StatesEnormously popular #beach among Oregonians looking to #surf or #hike. The trails around this hidden beach offer some of the best #picnic spots on the #coast
Located in the middle of Oswald State Park, Short Sands is an isolated cove surrounded by a forest that is still home to a few old growth trees. Similar to Indian beach, Short Sands is a surfer favorite for the view of Blumenthal Falls as much as the consistent groundswell sets (good for beginners). Beyond the surf are a number of breathtaking hikes along the coast and up Neah-Kah-Nie Mountain, which provides an excellent view of Nehalem Bay.
Cape Kiwanda State Natural AreaCloverdale, United StatesCozy historic community with the Pelican Brewery brewpub right on the beach. Lots of dunes for kids to explore while parents can relax with an IPA. #Oregon #coast #beach #outdoor
Like Cannon Beach, Pacific City is home to a massive monolithic rock resting just past the break. Chief Kiwanda Rock may not be as big as Haystack in Cannon Beach, but Pac City makes up for it with Cape Kiwanda’s staggering sand dunes at one end of the beach. Pacific City is also home to the award-winning Pelican Brewery (which just so happens to be perched right at the edge of the sand). Beer drinkers rejoice.
Cook’s Chasm/Thor’s Well
Thor’s WellFlorence, United StatesTwo spectacular rock formations that spew sea water throughout the day. Perfect spot for taking pictures and enjoying the majesty of nature #Oregon #Coast #nature #outdoor
The Chasm and Well aren’t so much beaches as they are attractions. The two holes cut from sharp volcanic rock spout thousands of gallons of saltwater every day in a fashion deserving of a romanticist painting. There are few natural wonders as impressive (or as loud) as these two holes, and the walk along the volcanic shoreline feels like a walk along the edge of the world. These two landmarks are a must visit for road trips along Highway 101.
Cannon Beach has a reputation for being a tourist haven, but at least it is for a good reason. Home to the 235-foot high Haystack Rock, which is one of the biggest sea-stacks in the world and a sanctuary for puffins and seagulls, Cannon Beach has a grandeur atypical of the Oregon Coast. The small town of matchstick-bungalows seems painted from a dream and the quaint shops are loaded with quirky memorabilia and saltwater taffy. Nearby Ecola State Park has a few hikes and striking viewpoints, while the beach itself is long and wide enough for a variety of shoreline activities (mainly biking).
Fort Stevens State Park
Fort StevensWarrenton, United StatesThis sprawling state park has a beached ship, abandoned civil war fort and miles of paved biking trails. Perfect for a #family adventure #oregon #coast #beach #history #biking #camping #hiking
What was a Civil War fort became the only continental US fort to fire upon an enemy (in this case, a Japanese submarine). Looking out over the mouth of the Columbia River, the fort provides a superb view of the Washington coast and nearby Astoria, as well as a sense of history (and a powerful north wind). The park has some of the best paved biking paths on the coast, which also lead visitors to the Wreck of the Peter Iredale, Yurt Village and Coffenbury Lake. If any part of the coast is going to bring out your inner Goonie, it’s this park.
Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Area
Heceta Head LightstationFlorence, United StatesThe most epic B&B in Oregon overlooks a few coves and is surrounded by trails and woods to explore. The perfect #romantic getaway spot. #Oregon #coast #beach #lighthouse
Just a few minutes north from the Sea Lion Caves, the Heceta Head lighthouse is a landmark of beauty overlooking a handful of well-nestled sandy coves. Between the lighthouse and Heceta beach are a number of day hikes and lookouts that get far less attention than the more populated areas up north and are all the more enjoyable for it, with the 129-year old house making for a spectacular backdrop. Go for an autumn swim or read in one of the smaller coves safe in the knowledge that no more than a dozen folks will join you that day.
Sand Dunes Frontier
Sand Dunes FrontierFlorence, United StatesOne of the more exhilarating outdoor excursions on the coast. Rent a dune buggy ride or just experience the joy of rolling down massive sand dunes #oregon #coast #beach #dunes #outdoor
Just outside of Florence in the central part of the coast lays a dune-buggy playground. You can ride up-and-down the 100-foot high dunes on a big, purple “frontier” bus, or you can bring your own vehicle and play Indiana Jones as you zip across the sand. For those not interested in motor-sport, there is still plenty of fun to be had from rolling headfirst down the hill into some bushes.
Bullards BeachBandon, United StatesBest beach in the state for enjoying a variety of stunning rock formations. Also not a bad coastal town for a beer and a bite #beach #rockformation #statepark #oregon #coast
A much more understated seaside town that has a rock feature just as striking as Haystack. Face Rock rests just a few hundred yards into the sea, where a womanly face gazes up into the sky, her hair weighted down by the water. Face Rock isn’t the only natural wonder: Bandon’s beach is littered with bizarre rock formations big and small. One looks like a sky-scraping tower out of a Stephen King novel. The town itself is barely there, but the few pubs and stores are enough to make for an hour-long visit and a quiet dinner.
Devils Punchbowl State Natural AreaOtter Rock, United StatesHome to a close-knit surfing community, the Devil’s Punchbowl and, yes, a bunch of otters. Good for a quiet weekend getaway #oregon #coast #beach #outdoor #surfing
Otter Rock’s main attraction is the surfing, which caters towards beginners (some call it Oregon’s Waikiki). Whitewater kayakers have also moved in for the rough waters around the shoreline rocks. For the less athletically inclined, there are inlets to explore, such as the serene Devil’s Punch Bowl, and a very relaxed surfer town to visit. There also are a few, less-crowded hikes nearby and winery in town. Don’t come with a lot of expectations; do come with a lot of chill.