When my sister planned our trip to the Oregon Coast, she knew that none of us were the sort to enjoy just sitting and sunbathing on the beach. (Nor does the weather of the Pacific Northwest allow that very often…) Kate was able to find a number of beaches that provide great views or opportunities to explore, and we had an absolute blast. If you’re also not into the sunbathing thing—or even if you are, but you like to mix it up every once in a while—there are some great adventures to be had along the Coastal Range. Here are thirteen places to add to your Oregon Coast bucket list.
Seaside is a lovely little town on the coast with lots of tourist appeal. We lucked out and happened to be there on the same weekend as a big car show, so the streets were full of people admiring all the beautiful classics. The colors here are amazing—everything was so bright and vibrant, and it makes my photographer heart very happy. There’s a fun little shark museum with life-sized models of great whites and hammerheads and all sorts of other sharks. The beach itself is lovely, too, even if the seagulls are fearless little scavengers. We saw a huge flock of them marauding some poor soul’s backpack, which they had made the mistake of leaving unattended. I don’t know how those birds did it, but they unzipped the bag, pulled out the sandwich inside, tore open the ziplock, and stole that guy’s lunch!
Munson Creek Falls
Munson Creek Falls is an Oregon State Natural Site. It’s an easy little hike through a rain forest, with huge plants and moss-covered trees. At the end of the trail is Munson Creek Falls, a 319′ waterfall (the tallest along the Oregon coast. The hike is just over a half mile, in and out, and fairly level, so it’s a nice little break to get out and stretch your legs.
The plan had been to visit Cape Meares next, but we were waylaid by construction, so we went to Oceanside instead. Heavy fog had rolled in, but that didn’t dampen our excitement for this fun little beach. There’s a normal sand beach, but if you climb through a tunnel in the rock, you end up on a black pebble beach with sea stacks that looked incredible in the fog.
Sand Lake wasn’t an intended stop on our itinerary, but it was a pleasant surprise. The road between Cape Lookout and Pacific City passes through the north end of a large swath of sand dunes called Sand Lake Recreation Area. We were so impressed by the sight that we pulled over to better appreciate it. I’ve never seen anything like it before or since.
We really lucked out when it came to random public gatherings on this trip—and I can honestly say that this was one that I never expected to find myself running into: an international jet ski competition. I honestly didn’t even know that was a thing, but apparently, they have this competition every year. We went for the sea stacks and came away with a newfound appreciation for people who like to do crazy stunts on personal watercraft in stormy water.
Cape Kiwanda is a fun little beach known for the local practice of “crashing the beach.” The skippers will get their dories up to speed and aim right for the beach. You can see a video someone made of it here, but I would highly recommend seeing this in person someday. It’s terribly entertaining.
In case you couldn’t tell by the number of photos above, Fogarty Creek was my favorite beach of the trip. You actually park a ways across the road from the beach, then walk along a beautiful marshy area full of grass and creeks as you work your way to the beach. And the beach at Fogarty Creek is a natural treasure hunter’s dream: drift wood, kelp, rocks, shells, you name it. There was also an abundance of birds, including crows, gulls, and oystercatchers. It was my first time spotting the latter, and I was fascinated by their bright orange beaks and legs and their strange, child-like cry. I seriously kept thinking a kid was drowning in the surf somewhere, but it was just the birds!
Depoe Bay and Cape Foulweather
Depoe Bay marked another first for my critter bucket list: whales! I didn’t get good pictures, but we saw a mother gray whale and her calf out in the distance. Depoe Bay has a great little Whale Watching center run by Oregon State Parks, and we went in to get educated. We learned that calves will actually “play” by draping their tails over their mothers’ blowholes so they can’t breathe. Nice kids…
A few minutes up the road is Cape Foulweather, where we visited a gift store that hangs over a cliff 500′ above the ocean. Eeep! I bought a couple postcards (of course) but the main draw was the view the cape. We even spotted another whale!
The weather was pretty nasty when we arrived at Newport, so I didn’t want to bring my good camera out of the car and just used my cruddy phone camera. But don’t let these photos fool you—Newport was a charming little fishing village. We saw more sea lions, a starfish, and lots and lots of crab traps. We even got to talk to a crab fisher for a bit, which was fascinating. I wish the weather had been more conducive to walking around, because there were lots of cute little shops along the boardwalk and it would have been fun to take a leisurely stroll.
Guess we’ll just have to go back…
Devil’s Punchbowl is a unique circular geological formation by Otter Rock, Oregon. During storm surges, water flows through a low opening in the rock wall and fills the “punch bowl” with a churning tide. It’s another great spot for whale watching, and the water was full of surfers. There are even tide pools during low tide!
Boiler Bay provided us with the best whale watching of our trip. We saw several—including a cow/calf pair—and they stayed close to shore so we could see them pretty well. We also spotted some harbor seals off in the distance and enjoyed the picturesque, rocky beaches.
On our last night of the trip, we stayed at Devil’s Lake State Park near Lincoln City, OR. We enjoyed walking down to the lake from our yurt, and we saw about a gazillion European Red Slugs along the way. We also spotted a beaver in the lily pads and a beautiful egret perched on some deadwood out on the lake. When we went back the next morning, the bird was still in the exact same spot. Must be a great spot for fishing!
The weather finally cleared for the last beach on our trip: Road’s End. This beach is known for good tide pools, but we missed low tide and didn’t get to see them. But the weather was really lovely, and made this beach another favorite. With cormorants nesting on a distant sea stack, gorgeous views, and pristine sand perfect for walking on with bare feet, Road’s End was an absolute delight and a perfect high note for the end of our time on the coast.
But it certainly wasn’t the end of our adventure. Stay tuned for fun times in Seattle and along the Columbia River Scenic Byway!
Have you been to the Oregon Coast?
What are your favorite beaches or places to stop? Share in the comments below or over on my Facebook page!
If you know someone planning a trip to the Coastal Range, be sure to share this post! Thanks!
Flashback Field Trips are a series of posts about adventures I had before I started Jest Kept Secret. While these adventures may be a few years old, they still deserve a chance to be highlighted. You can read more posts about both domestic and international travel here.
This trip to the Oregon Coast was researched planned by my sister, Kate, so she gets all credit for the itinerary. Read more about our trip here.