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Outstandin' in Bandon: Unique South Oregon Coast Attractions, Thrills

Published 11/02/23 at 5:13 a.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Outstandin' in Bandon: Unique South Oregon Coast Attractions, Thrills

(Bandon, Oregon) – Sometimes known as Bandon-by-the-Sea, the little south Oregon coast burgh named after a town in Ireland may be tiny but there's an insane amount of stuff to do and see. In some ways, it overflows: the rugged fun spills out well beyond city limits and even to the east to its rugged, forested hills. (Photo Courtesy Manuela Durson Fine Arts )

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Not a thrill is left out it seems. The attractions of Bandon are diverse and addicting.

Boardwalk at Bandon-by-the-Sea

A well-known Oregon coast attraction all its own, for some the boardwalk in Bandon is actually one of its highlights, sometimes even over the beaches themselves.

It's a long, long wooden structure encompassing a chunk of the bay, situated in Bandon's Old Town, showing off the best of these calm waters as well as the beachside burgh itself. Plenty of seating and the smell of the sea are part of the allure here, along with all that scrumptious seafood wafting through. There's several prime choices for these former ocean-dwelling morsels along the Boardwalk at Bandon-by-the-Sea. Plenty of curio shops, clothes and other wares are present as well, along with at least one bait shop for your fishing and crabbing adventures.

Bandon Boardwalk, courtesy Ian Sane / Flickr

At night, however, that's when the place can really come alive – not with the rush of human beings but with the effervescent glow of lights on the water and those subtle sounds of water lapping against the pilings. It's about as romantic as you can get.

Coquille River Lighthouse

This baby has been around for over 125 years now, but only served as an actual lighthouse for 80 years. Bullards Beach in Bandon is the site of this south Oregon coast beauty, sitting at the edge of the rivermouth and jetty.

Bandon's Coquille River Lighthouse has quite the history, starting off in the late 1890s. Its second day of existence there was a heavy snow, which you don't often see here. In 1903, an abandoned ship crashed into this spot, actually smacking the lighthouse itself. The damage was not extensive, luckily.

These days, it's open again to let humans roam around a little inside – with a pause during the two worst COVID years. No longer does that light shine, but its visage is a welcoming one to all who wander out here and it still makes for great photographs. Going on 150 years old now, she's still a photogenic lovely.

The tower is closed, however. Information: 541-347-2209. Historic Adventures of a Lighthouse on South Oregon Coast: Coquille River Light at Bandon

Crabbing in Bandon

Snagging the crustaceans on this part of the south Oregon coast is fairly popular and some pretty decent yields. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) shows much of the bay is good for it, though local officials say you need to keep all crab gear out of navigational channels.

Boating and slinging the cages from the docks are the two means of crabbing here in Bandon, with the crabbing dock next to the Boardwalk being an unusually lengthy area for the activity. The boat launches aren't bad, either, if you can find a way to keep clear of the vessels.

“Always use caution when boating/crabbing in the lower bay as swift currents during tidal exchanges can occur, and result in loss of gear or cause boat to be pulled out to sea if mechanical problems arise,” ODFW said.

Crabbing is prolific enough around here that every summer Bandon holds its unique Bandon Craby Derby, where a good 100 Dungeness beasties are tagged and released back into the water. If you catch one of these during the derby period, bring it in and you win prizes, which can include cash. Also see Bandon's Tupper Rock is S. Oregon Coast History Long Gone, Almost Forgotten

Visit to see when this comes up.

Face Rock Viewpoint

This is really the very obvious one, with Face Rock and all the “little” sea stacks around it (they're actually quite huge) attracting people for, well, probably centuries. Local tribes have been here for thousands of years, and their origin story of the rock could well be centuries old.

Face Rock is the unforgettable sight of a giant human face pointed towards the sky, apparently with her head just above water. To the ancients this must have been absolutely life-changing.

All around are other intriguing shapes, such as Howling Dog Rock and Wizards Hat Rock, along with Elephant Rock, The Castle and the third and southernmost of Oregon coast's Haystack Rock. Bandon's Wizards Hat Rock, Komax or Howling Dog? Oregon Coast Landmark Puzzle

For the geology nerds, it's an all-you-can-eat feast of wild science.

All Those Caves of Bandon

Cave of the Winds, courtesy Jim Proehl, Bandon History Museum

You might say “Bandon is full of holes,” and you wouldn't be far off. There's a whole lotta caves here on this beach in the center of town. Those ancient, ragged sea stacks – all millions of years old – can get worn in places and give way. Millennia after millennia of wave action knocks things out and the result is photogenic gaps in these eye-catching landmarks. Above: one favorite cave of explorers and photographers is Cave of the Winds.

See Whiskey Run Beach Near Bandon a Subtle Wild Card on South Oregon Coast 

Fat tire biking is quite a thing on these beaches of Bandon and some of those arches you can zip through on these unique excursions.

There's loads of other beach destinations in this fave south Oregon coast town, including Seven Devils, China Creek or the always-engaging Whiskey Run. Will the Real China Creek of Oregon Coast Please Stand Up: Bandon, Near Florence


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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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