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South Oregon Coast Spring Break: from Whales to Deserted Beaches

Published 3/24/24 at 3:05 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

South Oregon Coast Spring Break: from Whales to Deserted Beaches

(Gold Beach, Oregon) – By the admission of even some tourism officials, the south coast of Oregon is not necessarily a major hotspot for spring break. It is off the path for much of the larger population centers, and it can still hang on to winter during that week. So, yeah, it's chilly: but that also means it's chill. (Above: near Gold Beach, courtesy Manuela Durson Fine Arts )

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Seriously chill. There aren't even any visitor-oriented events in that area. Plus, those beaches are bereft of others, much more so than up north. To boot, lodging is less coin as well.

Maybe a new spring break tradition could be in order? Check out these beach vibes.

Whale Watch Week. It's already started and this year it runs a couple of extra days, going until March 31. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., volunteers will be out at four spots on the south coast to help you spot the great beasties swimming past. You'll find them at Reedsport's Umpqua Lighthouse, Coos Bay's Shore Acres State Park, Face Rock Scenic Viewpoint in Bandon and Brookings' Harris Beach State Park.

Saturday March 30. 3rd Annual 5k Colorful Bunny Run at Bandon City Park. While it's not the usual fare for visitors, some may find it a kick to watch or even participate in. It's 8 laps around the park, which will host four color stations that blast you with colored powder. They suggest wearing white if you're a participant, and even dressing as a bunny to round out the effect. 3 p.m. $10.00: Individual. $25.00: Family of 3 or more. Get tickets

Courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast

Shore Acres Near Coos Bay. It's a magnet for wild, unruly and spectacular wave action, with breaders sometimes towering tens of feet above you. That's not guaranteed around spring break time, of course, as conditions mellow to some degree. But late March or early April can bring it on.

Nearby, there's Sunset Bay and its bizarre formations. So much to see here: you could explore these formations for hours and not get bored.

Surfing is a rather hot ticket here at times, and if the tides are out you could get a glimpse of the ancient ghost forest that dates back to Viking times. Unheralded Ghost Forests of South Oregon Coast / Coos Bay in Photos

Bandon's Elephant Head Rock and Face Rock. Caves, weird face-like shapes, loads of playing in the surf and views that just don't stop: this is the means of repose available in the multi-layered spot known as Bandon on the south coast. The main parking lot of Face Rock Wayside [see origin story of Face Rock] brings you down to the beach via a somewhat long staircase, and then you get to wander in between rocky giants, checking out the tidepool life on and around them and taking in their majestic shapes, including Howling Dog Rock. Wizards Hat Rock is a bit of a walk south of here (Google Maps has the landmark in the wrong spot Bandon's Wizards Hat Rock, Komax or Howling Dog? Oregon Coast Landmark Puzzle ).

Elephant Head Rock may end up surprising you at sunset: it takes just the right angle and misty ocean conditions, but you could capture a shot of the giant hole glowing.

There's at least a couple of caves here as well. See Bandon Hotels

Battle Rock, Port Orford. One of the true treasures of the south Oregon coastline, there's more than just the tideline blob to go exploring. Although that would definitely be enough on its own: there's little out there as exhilarating as walking up that rather steep incline and then getting in the midst of those trees and that view.

If you're lucky, the tide is out and you can get inside that mysterious cave that goes all the way through.

The beach itself is full of fairly wide exploration possibilities, with more hidden behind the outcropping on the northern side of Battle Rock Wayside Park. There's another cove tucked away back there. For a good, long adventure, keep heading south and you'll find more sea stacks and even less people. More Port Orford.

Also see the Cape Blanco Lighthouse just north of Port Orford, which is the farthest west you can go on most of the west coast. The lighthouse is not open for the season yet, but it and the whole headland are rather unforgettable.

Oregon State Parks

Arch Rock, Brookings. Not far into the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor, this rounded hole may wind up reminding you of Rockaway Beach way up north. There's actually more than one arch here, and you'll find a variety of gap shapes and intriguing structures to gawk at. A trail or two wanders off into cool new discoveries, and this is a perfect picnic spot.

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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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