Edited by: Chris Dong
& Keri Stooksbury
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Oregon has some of the best beaches on the West Coast that often go overlooked in favor of more popular sandy stretches further south. The state’s beaches are known for being dramatic while offering both ample hiking opportunities and sometimes, great swimming conditions, and they’re pretty much unlike any others in the country.
No matter what time of year you plan to visit the Pacific Northwest, you have to plan a stop at one of Oregon’s shores. However, choosing which one to visit first can be tricky. They’re all different from one another, and each beach has the potential to be your favorite, depending on your preferences.
To relieve some of the stress that comes along with travel planning, we’ve done the work of evaluating Oregon’s beaches so you don’t have to.
Agate Beach gets its name from the agate stones that make the rocky areas of the shore colorful. Though much of the agate has been hunted, so it’s less plentiful, you can still find them if you really look around.
The pebbles on the shore help filter the water to make it clean and blue on calm days. On days when the water is choppy, the foam from the waves creates a dramatic look that translates wonderfully to photos.
The water can be strong and unpredictable, though. Swimming isn’t recommended unless you’re a seasoned athlete. You can wade in the shallow areas without any trouble. However, you might find the water to be cold, even if you’re visiting in the summer.
Hot Tip: You’ll need to hike to get to this beach. There’s a trail, but it’s twisting and steep at times. Make sure to watch your step.
Arcadia’s history as a coastal destination may only date back to the 1970s, but it’s become a favorite among locals and tourists.
Even before opening to the public, the area was a valuable stretch of private land thanks to its peaceful nature and the chance to hear the “singing” sands when the weather conditions are right to create friction on the shore.
Arcadia Beach doesn’t have many frills. You won’t find businesses right on the sand, but its simplicity is part of what makes it so special (and popular). It has everything you really need to have a fun day at the beach. From calm, clean water to plenty of room to spread out, it’s an idyllic shoreline that’s perfect for the whole family.
Like many of Oregon’s beaches, the area has sea stacks on its sand from the coast’s erosion over thousands of years. These stacks have created their own micro-ecosystems you can admire. Lush greenery and birds call these geological structures home and add a unique wild charm to the area.
Arizona Beach is a peaceful getaway spot if you’re looking for a place to relax for a few minutes, a few hours, or even a whole weekend.
The beach is two-thirds of a mile long and stretches between 2 rocky cliffs that create a little alcove for the shore. Though the area is prone to strong winds, the cliffs protect the beach and allow it to remain calm and peaceful. This beach is mostly sandy, but there are rocks scattered around you can hunt for, which is the perfect way to spend your time here, especially if the water is choppy.
The current can be strong, and there are no lifeguards on duty. Stay in the shallow area if you decide to wade, and make sure any children you’re with are always accompanied. You won’t find snack bars here, but there are picnic tables for visitors.
Bandon Beach offers visitors the chance to admire diverse sea life and landscapes. Giant sea stacks can be found on the shore that cast shadows on the sand, especially at sunset. The stones mark where Oregon’s shore used to be before erosion wore it away over time.
In the summer and fall months, you can hunt for shells on the beach as the area’s shellfish season gets into high gear. Make sure to leave any shells that are still “occupied” on the sand, though. You can also see all sorts of creatures in the beach’s tide pools.
Bandon is also a relatively safe area for swimming. In the summer, specifically between July and September, the water is comfortably warm, and the current is gentle. You won’t be under the surveillance of any lifeguards, though, so swim with care.
Bastendorff Beach is a coastal spot that’s fit for the whole family. It’s dog-friendly for the entire year and has plenty of space for you to walk around and explore.
The beach is covered in hard-packed sand that creates a level surface for running and walking without getting too tired. The sand is also less powdery, so it’s less likely to get all over your belongings if you lay out a towel for a few hours.
The beach is a popular surfing hotspot thanks to the regular waves that reach the shore, but you don’t have to worry about the current being too rough either. You can swim and wade safely without being knocked over or jostled by the water.
Cannon Beach is a small town on Oregon’s coast that gets its name from its beach. The Haystack Rock formation sits along the sand, and the water is stunning and clean.
Though the beach is beautiful at all times of day, it’s particularly breathtaking at sunset. Oregon’s place on the west coast gives visitors a perfect view of the sun going down over the horizon. The beach doesn’t have a straightforward path to reach it, so you’ll need to keep your eye out or ask a local, but it’s worth the effort. The beach is known for its serenity, and it’s rarely ever crowded.
Swimming is allowed. However, the waves can be strong, even close to shore. You can even build a campfire on the shore, but you have to bring your own firewood and, of course, put out the fire before you leave.
If you’re on the hunt for the best views Oregon has to offer, Cape Kiwanda is one of the top places to go. If you hike to the top of the cape, you get a sweeping panoramic look at the coast. The beach isn’t just known for the scenery. It’s also one of the best surfing spots in the entire Pacific Northwest.
The cape gets windy, which causes consistent waves. You might want to stick close to the shore if you plan on swimming. The water here doesn’t warm up much throughout the year, meaning wetsuits are needed.
You can also kitesurf or hang glide if you’re up for some adventure while you’re visiting. The beach itself is pristine and doesn’t have any businesses or structures. However, there’s a town nearby with restaurants and shops if you need to pick up anything.
Depoe Bay is the state’s whale-watching capital. Depoe’s beach offers you the chance to catch glimpses of them breaching in the distance in December and January and then again between the end of March and the end of May.
This beach has a hilly terrain that’s perfect for people who love hiking. It’s a dog-friendly area as well that allows your pup to roam around, provided they’re leashed. Watching the sunset here is cinematic, thanks to the shadows created by the trees and hills that contrast with the bright colors of the sun setting on the water.
Depoe Bay is a fishing town, so you’ll likely see boats out sailing while you’re here, but they don’t usually get too close to the beach’s shore. If you decide to wade in the water, it’ll still be nice and clean for your enjoyment.
Gold Beach is a quaint town with a hidden gem of a beach as its namesake. This part of Oregon got its name from the gold mines found in the sand near where the Rogue River leads into the ocean. Today, the name is still fitting, thanks to the golden color of the shore.
The beach is an ideal spot for numerous outdoor activities if you love being out in nature. You can hike, kitesurf, and swim. If you prefer more calming activities, you can hunt for seashells and stones, or you can visit the beach’s tide pools to see the complex little habitats that form in these pockets of water.
Since Gold Beach the city isn’t very large, and not many tourists know about the area, it’s rarely crowded and very peaceful, even on summer weekends.
Lone Ranch Beach is a popular detour spot for people taking a road trip along the West Coast. The parking area has restrooms available, and the sand is a short, easily accessible walk away. There’s even a mobility-inclusive entrance onto the beach for people who might have trouble walking down to the sand.
The beach has maintained its natural beauty, and you won’t find any tourist amenities like restaurants or shops. Instead, you’ll be able to relax, unwind, and listen to the waves while you enjoy your day.
The water here is swimmable, and the water is shallow near the shore. If you remember to pack a lunch, you can even have a picnic at the beach tables. This beach can get chilly from the wind, especially in the afternoon as the sun starts to go down, so bring a jacket.
If you picture Oregon’s coast, you’ll probably come up with something pretty close to Manzanita Beach. This area has bright turquoise water and is an inviting spot for surfers. The water is still near the shore, though, so even young kids can splash around in the gorgeous and clean water.
With the rocky cliffs that line the beach and the misty fog that tends to stick around on the horizon, the area has a wild and dreamy quality to it.
The water gets warmer by July and will usually be a comfortable temperature until September. However, you can still enjoy yourself by walking along the sand and hiking the cliff trails if it’s too cold to go in the water.
Over the past 200 years, Nye Beach has earned a reputation as being a hot spot for artistic travelers who are in need of a getaway.
Poets, artists, and performers come to Nye to find their muses and get inspired. To this day, local art groups routinely visit. As an out-of-towner, you’re welcome to join local creative endeavors on the beach, or you can enjoy a little seclusion.
The beach is near hotels, restaurants, and shops, so you’re near any amenities you might need, but the shore itself is peaceful and calm. The beach is wide enough that you won’t have to walk far before you find a place to set up for your day by the water.
Be prepared for some wind, though. The beach tends to be breezy, which often creates choppy waves. The water is also cold before June and after September.
The Oregon Dunes are a bit of a natural wonder, not just in the state but in the entire world. It’s one of the largest stretches of sand dunes anywhere in the globe. While you can spend hours walking around and exploring the dunes, there’s also a quiet beach you can visit for a little relaxation by the ocean.
The Pacific is bright blue here and perfect for wading in. A wide variety of sea life can be found, and bleached sand dollars often wash up on the shore. The current can be a little strong, and lifeguards aren’t on duty, so make sure you swim carefully.
Hot Tip: There are even campgrounds nearby if you want to spend more than just a single day at the dunes.
Rockaway Beach is a dramatic scenic beach that can’t be missed if you’re in the area. The Coast Mountains meet the Pacific Ocean with this strip of sand nestled in the middle.
This isn’t known as a very swimmable beach, largely because the landscape and the currents combine to make riptides a common occurrence. The average water temperature also rarely tops 55 degrees. However, it’s one of the most photogenic beaches in the state, especially at sunset when the distant sea stacks frame the sun as it sinks.
You’re also just a short distance from hiking in the mountains, or you can try your luck at clamming or fishing.
Being part of the Pacific Northwest, Oregon is no stranger to cloud cover. Luckily, beaches like Yachats State Recreation Area are beautiful even on an overcast day. From having a picnic at one of the area’s tables to exploring the tide pools, there’s plenty to do, no matter the weather. You can even go fishing if you have your gear with you.
The beach is managed by the Yachats parks department, which has made a large effort to conserve the natural wildlife in the area. Coastal birds, mammals, and sea creatures are able to thrive here because the beach is kept in pristine condition.
The beach isn’t difficult to get to on foot, though some spots aren’t easily accessible to people with severe mobility concerns. Keep that in mind if you’ll need a wheelchair, stroller, or crutches while you’re visiting.
Oregon offers visitors numerous beach options. From moody vistas that are perfect for hiking to open stretches for relaxing swims, there’s an Oregon shore for virtually any beach visit. We hope that this list has helped you figure out your preferences to decide which of the state’s beaches you should plan to visit first.
Though the Pacific Ocean tends to have colder water temperatures, Oregon’s beaches can be warm. The water is most comfortable in the spring and summer between May and September. July and August generally have the highest water temperatures at all of the state’s beaches.
Oregon’s beaches are very nice for people who love nature. Much of the coast has pebbled shorelines with nearby cliffs and forests. There are more traditional sandy beaches as well, though. The beaches in the states aren’t often crowded with tourists, even during the summer.
The Oregon coast is primarily popular for its dramatic scenery. The area is very natural and rugged, with a lot of greenery and wildlife. There are also multiple small towns and historic buildings tourists can visit while they’re in the area, which adds to the appeal.
Many of Oregon’s beaches are swimmable. However, the current can be strong, and there can be sudden drop-off areas if you’re not careful. Usually, more dangerous areas will be marked with signs, but you can always ask locals before you swim if you’re unsure.
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