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Quiet Yet Hot Little U.S. Travel Destination: Rockaway Beach on N. Oregon Coast

Published 2/17/24 at 7:25 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Quiet Yet Hot Little U.S. Travel Destination: Rockaway Beach on N. Oregon Coast

(Rockaway Beach, Oregon) – Once upon a time, this burgeoning north Oregon coast tourism destination hotspot was named Garibaldi Beach, according to history books, only somewhat later becoming named Rockaway Beach. Early in the last century, when all this coastal wonderland was barely emerging from a pure wilderness state, it was the playground of more well-to-do Oregonians. It was actually several little villages – or “resorts” - not entirely unlike Lincoln City was once a strip of seven tiny towns. (Above: Minnehaha entrance of Rockaway Beach, all photos Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

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These days, it's still seven miles of captivating beaches, still a low-key travel destination that often finds you almost by yourself among those pristine mounds of sand and driftwood. It's not hard to get away from it all, especially at the extreme northern or southern ends of Rockaway Beach. And it's not difficult to see the town's past right in front of you, with those historic building facades that look a little Old West, along with that ancient choo-choo train plopped in the middle of town that serves as its visitors center.

Starting at the southern end, what is called Twin Rocks, this was a town all its own once. Here, the famed rock structures by the same name take on a different shape than they do farther north. The giant, gaping arch is not as obvious here, but the rocks themselves are much closer. More on the geology of Twin Rocks.

Twin Rocks the village has a decidedly different viewpoint on Twin Rocks the structure (Shand Ave. access).

This teensy community had a post office beginning in 1914, which then closed in 1954. The history of Rockaway Beach includes the town first getting named as such in 1909, and Twin Rocks was incorporated somewhere after 1914. Twin Rocks got its name from Twin Rocks just offshore. Those rocks, in turn, were named by the fact that from a boat on the other side of the basalt structures they looked rather identical.

The most obvious beach access in Twin Rocks in Minnehaha Street. Yet there are a couple of beach accesses even farther south, such as at Shand Ave. These can be exceptionally bereft of people and full of wonders. Shand is actually part of Twin Rocks State Park, and there is a pleasant little stream emptying into the ocean here.

Head north and most of the streets that jut off westward from the highway include lovely little beach accesses. Along Highway 101 you start to encounter more and more businesses, including several curiosity and antique shops, some made out of older buildings or former churches.

Soon you reach Ocean Edge Wayside, the most visible access in Rockaway Beach. From this vantage point, Twin Rocks shows its arch much more clearly. The big red caboose is here, and a sizable grouping of restaurants, vacation rental offices and lodgings are clustered along this part of Rockaway's downtown district.

Wander north of here and the beach accesses start to lie along N. Pacific St., which runs the length of much of this side of town. Most of the beach accesses at the northern end include large boulders – rip rap – which sometimes makes traversing them difficult. Luckily, most of these have steps of some sort.

At the very northern end, Rockaway Beach moves into Manhattan Beach and then finally dead-ends at Nedonna Beach, which includes the dramatic south jetty of the Nehalem Bay. Stand on top of this and you'll see some fascinating watery action, with the southern face being walloped by waves and the northern side – looking to the bay – considerably calmer.

On the east side of Highway 101 through this part of the north Oregon coast, numerous little lakes sit either in plain view as well as some hidden ones tucked away along roads heading away from the ocean. Spring Lake in Twin Rocks and Lake Lytle are most prominent. Lytle has a grand new fishing platform.

More details are at the Rockaway Beach, Oregon Coast Virtual Tour, Map, which contains a huge array of tourism information.

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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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