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Crazed and the Calm on S. Oregon Coast, Between Coos Bay and Bandon

Published 02/23/22 at 6:32 AM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Crazed and the Calm on S. Oregon Coast, Between Coos Bay and Bandon

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(Bandon, Oregon) – Some thirty minutes of drive time and about 24 miles along this part of southern Oregon coast highway, there's a lot crammed between two big-name towns. Bandon and Coos Bay are perhaps the two most recognizable go-to spots on the south coast, and between them is a few days worth of exploration. (Above: Coos Bay's Cape Arago. Courtesy Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more)

But you could say the best of it is between the devil and the deep blue sea – Seven Devils Road, that is. As the road south of Charleston (and just south of Coos Bay) splits off to either Seven Devils Road or the Cape Arago Highway, it leaves you with a devil of a choice. Take the long, scenic winding route to Bandon or trip the fantastic down the Arago roadway and bump into wonder after wonder.

Then once in Bandon, maybe find the other Seven Devils Road (yup, there's two), connecting from the south end, letting you reach the endless beach distractions and attractions of Seven Devils State Recreation Site.

Bandon, courtesy Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more

It's all something Amanda Castro did back in 2009 or so, settling in for three years in Coos Bay, and then falling in love with both that town and Bandon.

“I loved it,” Castro said of Coos Bay. “It was a small town, older, really pretty.”

But running around the Bandon area caused that one to be still her favorite of the Oregon coast to this day, though she now resides in Portland. There, the Seven Devils Beach area presented some unique finds.

“I loved hiking Seven Devils,” she said of the beach and the little roadways above. “There were seven crazy hills, and all these little pathways down to the beach.”

Getting here is a bit tenuous and white-knuckled at points, but it's worth it, dumping you out on pristine sands known as Merchant Beach. Miles and miles of grains in either direction are interspersed with the bubbly cliffs that often inhabit this stretch north of Bandon, leading you through hidden Sacchi Beach and Agate Beach (not the one in Newport), until it all ends up at Cape Arago. Or if you're hiking south, you'll bump into legendary Whiskey Run Beach and eventually Bullards Beach.

Whiskey Run Beach, courtesy Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more

Within the closer confines of either south Oregon coast town, there's bundles of beaches all their own. Bandon contains the vast landscapes dotted with soaring rock structures and blobs, including the famed Face Rock and Wizards Hat Rock, as well as Elephant Rock and its sometimes mystical portal-like arch. Coos Bay hosts quick access to Sunset Bay and its ancient, craggy wonders (like Viking-age ghost forests), Cape Arago and its remote, unattainable lighthouse, the wildlife of Simpson Reef or the shriek-inducing monster waves of Shore Acres State Park.

Photo courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast / Steven Michael Photography

It turns out Castro never indulged in that powerful wonder herself. She sheepishly admitted she was “terrified of water” and didn't like the idea of getting wet by one of those oceanic geysers the spot is known for. They can tower nearly 100 feet above those cliffs.

That isn't to say these stretches between Coos Bay and Bandon didn't bring enormous peace to her, however. She recalls with especially wide eyes the first time she saw whales from one of the state park cliffs around Bandon.

Shore Acres in a calm mood, courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast

“During springtime there was whale watching,” Castro said.

She described her first sight of whales as “I was shocked,” but pleasantly so.

“It was interesting. I was just sitting there on a bench by myself, overlooking everything and it was all really peaceful.”

You can, of course, choose to run around these vibrant south Oregon coast spots at high speed, darting from place to place to take it all in quickly. And who would blame you? But eventually, as this former local found out, the calm of the area simply takes over.

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