Best Beaches of Oceanside, Pacific City, N. Oregon Coast
(Pacific City, Oregon) – What are the best beaches of the Three Capes Loop? (Or Three Capes Tour, as it's often called). Sometimes, the answers are full of the unexpected, and the 25 miles of the Three Capes Loop has such wowing moments aplenty.
The answer to this question all depends on your criteria, however. Do you prefer soft, sandy beaches that go on for quite a while? Do you like hidden, rocky areas to explore?
There's a lot crammed into this one little short stretch, and there's a little bit for everyone.
The biggest stretches of pristine strands are around the Pacific City area, starting from Neskowin, momentarily interrupted by a river, and then several more miles of really soft, caressing granules – which include the varied and dramatic Cape Kiwanda. Kiwanda is probably the king of capes on the Oregon coast, with a myriad of wonders and geologic curiosities set around various soaring dunes.
You can hike most of the ten or so more miles from the northern end of Cape Kiwanda until you reach Cape Lookout, with stunning and hidden Tierra Del Mar (above) being especially peaceful. The mind-blowing headland of Lookout features five long miles of hiking trails around its length, and then more hiking trails downward to Cape Lookout State Park.
Along the Three Capes Tour, between Tierra Del Mar and Cape Lookout, is Sand Lake Dunes Recreation Area, which is a prime spot for ATV's and camping.
Cape Lookout State Park also features plenty of camping, and more sandy areas to walk along hand-in-hand. These dead-end beneath the headland's north face in some fascinating rock structures to explore. A few more miles north of there you'll find the southern end of the fishing mecca of Netarts Bay and then Netarts and Happy Camp, where clamming and long stretches of sand rule again.
From here it's a short drive or walk to Oceanside, where things get really interesting. The main beach of this tiny and somewhat secretive town is watched over by Maxwell Point, and there's plenty of rocky structures to play around on at lower tides. But the most the fascinating feature is the tunnel going through the little headland, where you find an endlessly engaging beach full of basalt blobs to explore. There are caves, massive colonies of starfish, and more here. Best of all: you're often alone on this little beach (which is sometimes called Tunnel Beach or Star Trek Beach).
The best of this area may not be beaches at all but wild, soaring cliffs – which include a lighthouse. Cape Meares is the final headland on the Loop and boasts not just amazing views but a lighthouse and a tree oddity called the Octopus Tree. On a clear day you can see some 40 miles northward to Manzanita, as well as alternate and astounding views of Three Arch Rocks and other landmarks. It's jaw-dropping.
Even more on this area at the Three Capes Loop, Oceanside, Pacific City Virtual Tour, Map.
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