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Four Epic, Winter Wows Along the Oregon Coast, and Their Secrets

Published 02/25/23 at 7:22 PM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Four Epic, Winter Wows Along the Oregon Coast, and Their Secrets

Latest Coastal Lodging News Alerts
In Seaside:
Includes exclusive listings; some specials in winter
In Cannon Beach:
Includes rentals not listed anywhere else
In Manzanita, Wheeler, Rockaway Beach:
Some specials for winter
In Pacific City, Oceanside:
Some specials for winter
In Lincoln City:
Some specials for winter
In Depoe Bay, Gleneden Beach:
Some specials for winter
In Newport:
Look for some specials
In Waldport
Some specials for winter
In Yachats, Florence
Some specials for winter
Southern Oregon Coast Hotels / Lodgings
Reedsport to Brookings, places to stay; winter deals

(Oregon Coast) – Storms aren't the only thing going on in winter on Oregon's coastline, though it's a major player in recreation and high-energy repose. Sand levels get exceptionally low most years, and fascinating stuff pops up. Your favorite beaches change, and new ones beckon with sights you've never seen – or heard, in some cases (like “magic rock beaches.”) (Above: Ocean Beach Picnic Ground, near Florence. Photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

There's fewer people out here, too. Yet there are moments those storms take too much out of you, and the beaches less traveled become the beaches just plain painful, with all the cold, wet and winds.

What to do? What to look for? Here's four (well, more than that) examples of all-purpose, even eye-popping fun.,


Oregon National Dunes Recreation Area, courtesy Travel Lane County

Just south of Florence, the Oregon National Dunes Recreation Area sprawls for 40 long, glorious miles, with gargantuan sand dunes to roughhouse on. It's where dune buggies, horse rides and other all terrain do-hickies are for rent, or take your own to really get your zoomies on. This striking, sparse region dips well into the south Oregon coast, encompassing close passes by Reedsport as well as the Coos Bay area.

The beaches between Florence and Yachats offer a variety of opportunities and environments. Some beaches are a mix of rocky structures, boulders, tidepools and sandy stretches, often rather small and compact as they're separated by one landmass or another. Some spots are mostly rocky slabs where the tide slams into the basalt with dramatic intensity. Other places are the soft, fluffy sands typical of Florence. Then there are the wild and spectacular cliffs that soar above the waves and provide glimpses of chillingly powerful breakers putting on a show.

Bob Creek, Oregon Coast Beach Connection

It's an area that houses a nearly endless supply of tidepools (if the tide isn't too high), the Heceta Head Lighthouse, a few spouting horns, a variety of weird sea caves, more starfish than people, the crazed wave action of the Devil's Churn and the monumental Cape Perpetua towering over it. All of these spots are a quick walk to the parking lot.

If you're hitting these places in stormy weather, the parking lots provide a nice vantage point to watch the oceanic insanity. The winding, twisting roads in this region also make for a beautiful scenic ride, perfect for those who want to check out these beaches at a manic pace in the warmth of their car. Hotels in Yachats - Where to eat - Yachats Maps and Virtual Tours - Upper Lane County Virtual Tour


Gobs of sea foam blobs at Seaside, something you may be lucky to see. Photo courtesy Seaside Aquarium

Towns with huge, sprawling beaches nestled up against them are especially handy in the winter season. If the weather should turn on you, you can make a quick run for all the amenities nearby. Also, large, wide beaches like this are much safer in unruly tidal conditions, which typify winter on the Oregon coast. Horsfall Beach at Coos Bay is like this, as is Manzanita, parts of Cannon Beach and Lincoln City, as well as parts of Harris Beach by Brookings.

Seaside is one of the more perfect burghs for winter getaways (quite literally, if you're talking about needing a place to run from the tides), with tons of its best features all crammed close to the pristine beach. The vast majority of the town's eateries and shops lie on Broadway, which extends east from the Turnaround and the Promenade, often dressed up quite glittery with loads of lights. Even from there it's a reasonable walk to the end of Broadway and to a strip mall full of other shops.

This beach goes on for a few miles, broken only by a minor river, and then going for more and more miles to the north, through Gearhart and Warrenton - until it reaches the mouth of the Columbia River. At the beach's southern and more deserted end, you'll find the soft sand turning more to cobblestones just before it dead-ends at "the cove" area and Tillamook Head. Hotels in Seaside - Where to eat - Seaside Maps and Virtual Tours


Courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast

There's more than meets the eye to this popular south Oregon coast attraction, where ancient and surreal rock formations lead to gargantuan wave action, and then to a handful of semi-secret overlooks as well as a mansion lush in garden wonders. Look a bit deeper and you'll see ancient finds from the times of the Vikings.

The untamed, towering waves of Shore Acres are the biggest winter attraction, where these can leap a good 100 feet over your head. But head to Sunset Bay and the storm action is like a tidal soap opera as well, and almost as loud.

Photo courtesy Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more

Calmer days here reveal all the oddball little structures like honeycombed shapes, irregular holes and funky blobs. Sand levels are usually lower in the winter, so when the tide is a bit out you could see the spectacular, green goo-covered ghost forests of Sunset Bay, which are about 1200 years old – about the time the Vikings hit England. See The Unheralded Ghost Forests of South Oregon Coast / Coos Bay in Photos

Head to Yoakam Point or to the Arago lookouts not far away and you'll encounter some captivating, visual treats in terms of crazed waves or barky wildlife.


Between Cannon Beach and the Nehalem Bay area, you'll find the Arch Cape Tunnel and tiny, unincorporated community of Arch Cape. It seems like all these beaches here are hidden ones, with hardly any souls wandering most of them.

Just south of the tunnel, you'll find the very clandestine Falcon Cove, nicknamed "Magic Rocks Beach" by some locals because this landscape of mostly ocean-polished cobblestones makes a funny, rattling noise as the tide disturbs them. See Magic Rocks / Falcon Cove video

This area is only acceptable to wander during calmer conditions and highly dangerous during storms or anything higher than a low tide. However, the cliff above it makes a good, safe vantage point to watch the show – if you stay high on the cliff. A family lost a husband and kids there by simply walking along the edges of a cliff. Remain at the access top – and don't wander from there. You'll get treated to some cool wave action and noises.

Arch Cape itself is an oft-deserted wonder, with a pair of sea stacks hugging a slightly hidden cove, only accessible at low tides.

Further north, you'll find the varied treasures of Hug Point, with its sea caves, waterfall, the remnants of a road going around the headland and one curiosity still embedded in the cliff face. Most of this, however, is only accessible at moderate to lower tides.

Just north of there, Aracadia Beach provides a great vantage point to watch storms hit this beach and its rocky structures. Or at lower tides, venture around the point to see tide pools, a huge sea cave, and glimpse the vast stretch of sand between you and Cannon Beach's rocky landmarks in the distance. Hotels in Cannon Beach - Where to eat - Cannon Beach Maps and Virtual Tours



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Coastal Spotlight

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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