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For International Travelers to U.S., South Oregon Coast Provides Bold, Rugged Adventure

Published 06/01/23 at 4:22 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

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(Coos Bay, Oregon) – The entire Oregon coast is still slowly getting discovered by international visitors to the U.S., moving up the layers of awareness to those from other lands. Some of it is happening by word-of-mouth from their countrymen, even being passed down from generation to generation, as parents or older friends who had stumbled onto these shores in the last two, three decades rave about it. (Above: Arch Rock Viewpoint between Brookings and Gold Beach, were glowing phytoplankton shows off one late summer's eve, photo courtesy Steven Smith / Solution 7 Media)

Not that the Oregon coast is off people's radar outside these borders: it's just that the newbies are steadily growing. Now, after the pandemic had all but killed off international tourism all around, this year is starting to see a good influx again.

For many international visitors, it's not necessarily the upscale hotels and the foodie / brew scenes that draw them. They're looking to rough it, and that's beginng to draw more interest in the whole region.

This puts the south Oregon coast in a prime position. There are more chunks of that stretch that are wild and untamed than vestiges of civilization. Towns are fewer and farther between than up north. And when those from foreign lands arrive, at least one visitor center says they're seeking a few more thrills.

The south Oregon coast is defined as the approximately 180 miles of shoreline from Florence down to the California border.

The Coos Bay – North Bend – Charleston Visitor & Convention Bureau (otherwise known as Oregon's Adventure Coast) said when international travelers walk through their doors, it tends to be a lot of Canadian, Australian, UK, German and Chinese folks – though that's more of an anecdotal observation than a hard numbers study.

Janice Langlinais, executive director of Oregon's Adventure Coast, said their interests tend to align with the name of her organization.

“For our area, most of our international visitors want to experience our outdoor adventures,” she told Oregon Coast Beach Connection. “They are very interested in the Oregon Dunes, Shore Acres State Park and the waterfalls out at Golden and Silver Falls State Natural Area.”

So what are the really rugged parts of the south Oregon coast foreign travelers would enjoy as a destination? A quick overview (largely north to south):

Photo Sheila Sund

Oregon National Dunes Recreation Area. 40 miles of dunes are the big attraction, which makes for some wondrous, surrealistic, minimalist photography as well as zipping around on various vehicles. It surrounds the areas of Reedsport and Coos Bay.

Shore Acres, courtesy Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more

Between Coos Bay and Bandon. It's easy to find long stretches of hidden beach with no access for miles around, and in the hills just overlooking Bandon the mountain biking trails are vast and adrenaline-inducing. Shore Acres makes for waves some 200 feet high in the winter, which you can watch safely from above.

Arizona Beach, courtesy Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more

Bandon to Port Orford. 20 miles of mostly remote beaches are here, often requiring a few miles of hiking between beach accesses. Floras Lake hosts the insanely beautiful Blacklock Point and its colorful cliffs. Many of the campgrounds are out in the true wilderness. Bandon Visitors - Port Orford

Hills beyond the beach near Port Orford, photo courtesy Oregon Department of Forestry

Port Orford to Gold Beach. Now you're heading into a long stretch with no towns, and mostly sprawling views and soaring heights that give way to very unpopulated beaches. Humbug Mountain towers at 1700 feet with trails over five miles long there and back – and that's not counting the rough country behind the mountain. In Gold Beach, the river jet boat attractions are exhilarating. Gold Beach Visitors

Natural Bridges, courtesy Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more

Gold Beach to Brookings / California Border. Not much is touched by human construction here except the highway. One of these untamed highlights is the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor, some 15 miles of exceptionally wild beach trails, cliffs and oddball structures. The Natural Bridges area creates a fantasy world atmosphere, and the offshore sea stacks and arches also evoke some Lord of the Rings moments as well.

Kayaking On the South Coast. Many of the rivers here are perfect for this year-round, but when summer and fall's calmer conditions descend you can hit the ocean and wander through some of these spectacular arches and other rocky features.

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Oregon Dunes, courtesy Travel Lane County

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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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