With 360 miles of coastline, Oregon has lots of sandy waterfront. However, not all beaches are created equal. Here are some of our favorite, lesser-known beaches.
Hug Point State Recreation Site
When nearby Cannon Beach is just too busy, head a few miles south to Hug Point. You can see Haystack Rock in the distance, but not the crowds. Check out the two caves in the headlands and the old wagon trails carved into the stone—stagecoaches used to travel along the beach before roads were cut into the forests.
Short Sands Beach
This small beach, part of Oswald West State Park, is wedged between the rocky cliffs of Neahkahnie Mountain and Cape Falcon, making it feel cut off from the rest of the world. You’ll need to follow a half-mile trail through old-growth rainforest to reach the beach, which is nearly always active with surfers.
Sure, the town of Rockaway may lack upscale charm, but the seven-mile-long beach itself is lovely. Just offshore are the Twin Rocks, two massive promontories, one carved through with an arch. This is a magic spot to watch the sunset.
Seal Rock State Recreation Site
Stop at this quiet beach about halfway between Newport and Waldport to find a bit of the best of everything: broad sandy strands, tidepools, curious rock formations in the surf, and shady picnic tables. The park is named for a large seal-like rock, and in fact you can often spot real seals on the islands. Whales pass by here on their twice-yearly migration.
Neptune State Park
At this magical spot south of Yachats, tongues of lava form mazelike walls in the sand, to the delight of children of all ages. It’s a great place to play hide-and-seek or to spread a blanket and picnic. Immediately to the south (and also part of the state park) is Strawberry Hill, a wayside that gives access to acres of tidepools, where a broad expanse of ancient lava meets the Pacific.
Scenic Beach Loop
South of Bandon, drive the Scenic Beach Loop and witness some of the most evocative offshore rock formations in the state. With names like Cat and Kittens Rocks, Face Rock, and the Garden of the Gods, you’ll likely search for something magical in the various monoliths and islands. As you walk along the beach, watch for seabirds—Elephant Rock is a rookery for puffins, murres, and auklets.
Battle Rock Park
Just below the town of Port Orford, a craggy, steep-sided headland rises from the sands. In 1851, this promontory was the site of conflict between local Native Americans and would-be white settlers, earning it the name Battle Rock. You can climb the trail to the rock’s crest, where the settlers took shelter during a 14-day siege. Scattered along the beach are other dramatic sea stacks; this is also a good spot to beachcomb for agates.
Myers Creek Beach
The southern Oregon coastline is chock-a-block with dramatic vistas. Out of the many choices, a personal favorite is the sea-stack-studded beach at Myers Creek, part of Pistol River State Park south of Gold Beach. The cove is brimming with wave-battered monoliths, and the mile-long beach is just big enough for a good saunter but small enough to feel private.
Excerpted from the Sixth Edition of Moon Coastal Oregon.