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What Are the Best Beaches of the Oregon Coast? Seriously Surprising Answer

Published 07/28/22 at 5:05 AM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

What Are the Best Beaches of the Oregon Coast? Seriously Surprising Answer

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(Oregon Coast) – What are the best beaches along the Oregon coast? What are the best beach towns? (Photos Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

Here's the seriously surprising answer: that's a ridiculous question. It all depends on what YOU like. There is no one magic bullet and catchall for the best of everything in any coastal burgh or on any one stretch of beach.

Sorry to say, the ultimate answer is way more complex, and when some national publication pompously declares something around here the “absolute best,” they're full of it. It's like declaring one band the best ever, or one dish the best food ever. The even harder reality: you're a sucker if you buy it.

That being said, there are ways to suss out which beach you'll enjoy the most. You have to first look at your own criteria. Even better, be ready to explore – especially if you know nothing about this area. Also, one of the big ironies is that national publications tend to pick the busier beaches, which sometimes gets in your way a bit of really enjoying your trip.

Here's a guiding list.

Do you like soft, sandy beaches? Ones that go on for miles? Or maybe smaller ones that have lots of nooks and crannies? Do you want more than sand to explore – like interesting structures or caves as well? The criteria goes on and on. Oregon Coast Beach Connection will have something for everyone here.

Click on the links to discover more.

Soft Sand Beaches, Long Walks

For pure sandy delights, this list is nearly endless. Cannon Beach, Lincoln City and Seaside often get picked for these criteria, and rightly so. They point out so much fun stuff is within walking distance of the beach accesses. Manzanita is also this way, as is Newport and Port Orford on the southern Oregon coast. All but the latter can be quite packed, however. A rule of thumb: to get away from coastal crowds head to the extreme south or extreme north of any larger beach town.

Extremely long stretches are also found within the city limits of Bandon, Brookings, Pacific City, Rockaway Beach and Gleneden Beach.

Just outside of cities' walking ease are some prime and often very wild, unpopulated beaches, such as those near Coos Bay (Horsfall Beach, for example), Florence, Reedsport, Gold Beach, Warrenton, and between Yachats and Waldport.

On the south coast, this is where you often more alone time and hidden beaches sitting in plain sight. Stretches between Bandon and Coos Bay, and then in between the towns of Port Orford, Gold Beach and Brookings host miles of untamed spots, like Seven Devils, Whiskey Run, Arizona Beach, Nesika, or around Blacklock Point. On the northern half, there are soft spots that go on for miles like Newport's South Beach, in and around Tierra Del Mar or any of the major spits like Cape Lookout, Bayocean or Nehalem.

If you're looking for hiking long stretches, all these areas above are either part of such miles-long trails or they're near them.

More Diverse Beaches

Strawberry Hill

What if you want lots of sand but some interesting distractions?

Hug Point near Cannon Beach has loads of oddball caves and structures, as does Oceanside near Tillamook. The northern side of Pacific City's Cape Kiwanda leads you to some weird wonders, as does Meyers Creek near Gold Beach, Bandon's Face Rock (filled with loads of spires, caves and rocky puzzles), Secret Beach and China Beach near Brookings. Check out the beaches in and around Cape Blanco or Humbug Mountain, and Seal Rock near Newport. Fogarty Beach near Depoe Bay is chock full of striking finds and oddly coarse grains of sand. Neskowin is one fairly long tract that includes a fascinating rock blob and year-round “ghost forests” (trees preserved by some quirky geology).

One of the most interesting stretches of such intricate Oregon beaches is northern Lane County, between Florence and Yachats. They're often like labyrinths and usually bereft of other souls, such as Bob Creek and the very intriguing Strawberry Hill.

Fun With Beach Towns

Coos Bay, courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast

Each one has a very different character.

Larger ones like Bandon, Coos Bay, Cannon Beach, Lincoln City, Astoria or Newport are stacked with culinary pleasures, but so are most tiny towns as well to differing degrees. There's more of them in the bigger towns, but also more people, so you may want to stay somewhere less known and drive into the big town for all the fun stuff.

Seaside is rather singular with its bevy of family attractions: there's tons of arcade-type entertainment for the kids, rides, candies and gobs of beach-oriented shopping frivolity. Lincoln City also has some of these attractions.

A good fine wine scene is a staple in just about every larger and mid-size town. Also keep an eye out for food trucks in places like Astoria, Coos Bay and Lincoln City. Some are popping up around other towns as well, and they almost uniformly get excellent reviews.

Microbreweries are big all over the Oregon coast, with Astoria having been the king for decades. It's still at the top of the heap, but south coast towns like Port Orford, Bandon and more are simply exploding with these bubbly delights and excellent food.

Towns with the most riotous nightlife? If tying one on is your thang (and maybe shaking that thang) after the sun goes down, Seaside, Lincoln City, Astoria, tiny Depoe Bay, Newport, Florence and Coos Bay all provide some innovative options as well as that most coveted of coastal bar experiences: inadvertently humorous situations. Casinos are often a hot item for dancing the night away.

Wild Rocky Delights

If Oregon Coast Beach Connection can impart one important message to you: try the rocky areas of the coast rather than just the soft beaches. Explore. Did we mention you should explore?

Coos Bay's Sunset Bay and Shore Acres State Park are probably the pinnacle of fun 'n funky rocky explorations. All kinds of wacky shapes, designs and colors abound here, and Shore Acres is known for creating waves more than 200 feet high at times.

Spouting Horns at Depoe Bay, Yachats or Cook's Chasm will amaze you with their watery pyrotechnics, as well as the Devil's Churn near Yachats.

Rocky cliff exploration is nearly endless at the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor, Cape Kiwanda, Otter Point, Depoe Bay, Cannon Beach's Ecola State Park, parts of Port Orford or Cape Meares.

The best viewpoints are always the highest, and that means Neahkahnie Mountain by Manzanita, Humbug Mountain near Port Orford, atop Maxwell Point at Oceanside (this is a real hidden spot, so good luck), Blacklock Point, Anderson's Viewpoint near Oceanside and Cape Perpetua near Yachats.

Pro Tip: make a short list (three to five words) of things you're looking for in a beach area, then plug them into the Oregon Coast Beach Connection search form. Even better, include a destination in that string.

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KEYWORDS: best beaches on Oregon coast, critera for finding best beaches, best of coastal towns

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