Covering 180 miles of Oregon coast travel: Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway, Garibaldi, Tillamook, Oceanside, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Waldport, Yachats & Florence.
A Turn of the Season On Oregon's Coast
(Oregon Coast) - November is a pivotal turning point in the seasons on the coast and an interesting mish-mash of conditions. It's where the dreary overcast weather becomes prevalent, where storms really begin to kick in, and yet where beautiful, mellow, sunny day surprises are not uncommon.
So enjoying the beach is a bit more complex, and yet richer in possibilities. Sure, you've got to get dress more warmly and be prepared to get soaked occasionally. But you can find a place where you can both duck for safety to watch the storms or wander the beach in calmer moments.
Cannon Beach vs. Seaside
Up on the north coast, both Cannon Beach and Seaside - separated by only Tillamook Head and six miles - provide an incredible array of opportunities for playing around the beach in all kinds of weather. The sand is only steps away from all the restaurants, shops, entertainment, lodgings and other modern amenities of civilization you could ever want.
In Cannon Beach, the emphasis is on wood-tiled buildings of a rather upscale charm, with a load of funky, unique shops, while the whole place is an art capital for the entire coast. The beach is a long stretch of fluffy sand, which ends on the north side at a basalt headland that hides a secret beach. Its center point is, of course, the magnificent, well known shape of Haystack Rock (the third largest monolith in the world).
Seaside has a different character and charm, one that's more about old-fashioned Americana and a variety of carnival-like attractions. Cruise Broadway - its "Million Dollar Walk" - to find dozens and dozens of opportunities for play, dining and fun shops that run the gamut from fashion to funky mementos.
On the beach, the sand gets more like dunes the farther north you go. Going south, it becomes rocky until it dead-ends at "the cove," a favorite for surfers.
A large bay full of water sports possibilities, a towering mountain smothered in mystery, miles and miles of immaculate sand and some colorful history make Manzanita one non-stop tour of natural beauty. Not to mention, the tiny town itself manages to boast a large helping of culinary, lodging and shopping opportunities. All of these attractive amenities are just a short walk from the beach, should the weather turn on you.
The beach begins at the end of Laneda Ave., but another road runs along side the shore from that elbow until it dead-ends in the tree-smothered neighborhoods beneath Highway 101 and looming Neahkahnie Mountain. On the way, access to the sand is easy, with just a few steps down sandy or slightly rocky passages to this endlessly fascinating beach.
Above, on the highway, there are incredible viewpoints overlooking the ocean, Manzanita and even glimpses of Nehalem Bay. Just around the corner (just north of these viewpoints), you'll find more viewing platforms, where mighty breakers slam into the rugged, ancient basalt headlands of Short Sand Beach.
The Nehalem Bay Spit runs for a couple miles to the south, with entrances at one hidden end of Manzanita, and also a mile away - just outside of the tiny town of Nehalem.
Wonders North of Florence
As you pass from Yachats into dazzling beaches made of rocky basalt, after about 15 miles the landscape turns to more soft sand. Then, somewhere just after Carl Washburne State Park, you're traveling above the ocean on high, dramatic cliffs, where a tumultuous sea churns below.
At various spots, rather atmospheric walls made of rock line viewpoints that allow you to look at Mother Nature at her sometimes most unbelievable. Look close, and you may spot hordes of sea lions lounging on the bottoms of these cliffs. Marvel as you try to imagine how they got up those steep, sheer walls.
In this area - almost exactly halfway between Brookings and Astoria - you'll find the Sea Lion Caves (541-547-3111), a longtime tourist attraction in the region, where the great, barking beasts occupy the world's largest sea cave. There's also Heceta Head and Devil's Elbow State Park, which includes the magnificent lighthouse, the lightkeeper's quarters (which is a B&B), as well as a unique beach full of captivating rock structures and small sea caves viewable at lower tides.
Not even a quarter mile of town exists here, but it contains numerous treasures. There's the famous Japanese cuisine of Yuzen, and the kids will love the kooky little cookie shop and other quaint attractions.
Seal Rock began its days as a budding resort town back in the last century, but various failed business deals resulted in this tiny town being surrounded by wondrous, unspoiled natural attractions. Seal Rock State Park is one large chunk, with a variety of rock structures, rock-dotted sandy beaches and weird grooves made of basalt (actually geologic oddities and hints of fault lines) to climb around on.
There's one section near the tide line where the basalt rocks form a small channel that creates some fun climbing opportunities at lower tides.
If you're looking for a hidden spot around here: a tad north of the entrance to Seal Rock State Park sits a small path down to the beach. Look for Grebe St. and it's nearby.