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U.S. / International Travel Tips: Oregon Coast's Tiny Oceanside and Its Rugged Layers

Published 7/05/24 at 5:35 a.m.
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection

(Oceanside, Oregon) – Where the continent of North America simply ends, in that rugged region once known as the Oregon Territory, the coastline of the state that inherited that name is a meandering, often untamed section of the U.S. that international travelers still as yet have to discover. Throughout most of it, Highway 101 connects you to just about everything along those 362 miles of Oregon's coast. Teensy to midsize charmers like Bandon, Lincoln City, Reedsport or artsy Cannon Beach are a fairly straight drive along the scenic route.

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In Manzanita, Wheeler, Rockaway Beach:
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In Pacific City, Oceanside:
Some specials for winter
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Southern Oregon Coast Hotels / Lodgings
Reedsport to Brookings, places to stay; winter deals

Almost everything is right there, anyway. Almost.

At one point, in what is known as the Tillamook Coast, Highway 101 veers inland and the only way to the beaches is via the Three Capes Loop. That was really only opened up in the '60s, and then for a good ten years part of the stunning little route was cut off: it was not a “loop” for a time until just this year when a section of it reopened. (Cape Meares Loop Rd. Reopens, N. Oregon Coast's Three Capes is 'Loop' Again After 10 Years )

Of all the Oregon coast's lesser known aspects, tiny Oceanside is among its most startlingly wondrous. It sits at the northern tip of the Three Capes Loop, not far from where the road was reopened (and what a surprise-laden new chunk of scenic drive it is).

For someone coming from Japan, Germany, Canada or the U.K., diminutive Oceanside may not look like much at first, as you wander into this out-of-the-way pocket beach. Maybe just another wayside with a cluster of homes gathered round it? Granted, they're rather interesting homes at times.

Indeed, this fairly remote spot, nestled up against the hills of the Tillamook Forest, is one hidden gem on the Oregon coast, filled with a myriad of obvious and secret delights. In many ways, it’s an old, rustic hamlet that smacks of another time, dripping with weather-beaten cuteness and charm.

Yet actually the centerpiece is the raging, wild natural state of everything.

View from Cape Meares

The beaches here benefit greatly from the natural protection provided by Maxwell Point, a headland located approximately 100 yards north of the parking lot. This rocky promontory stands tall and imposing, a little like a watchful god, shielding the beaches from strong winds. To the south, a three-mile stretch of sandy beach leads directly to Netarts Bay and its distinctive wonders (the ghost forests there in winter are a freaky sight, if you know what you're looking at). Along this stretch, you’ll encounter little else besides rocks, boulders, and driftwood piled up near the vegetation line – certainly no humans.

About a mile further down, minor trails meander through the brush beneath the Three Capes residential development. If you’re fortunate and the tide is low, you might even spot oddly colored slabs of rock beneath the cliffs, lying in the tideline.

Geologic wonders of this coast never end, actually.

The most fun of Oceanside's beach lies inside Maxwell Point, however. The concrete tunnel here is a gateway to a wowing, secret world. Entrance into the tunnel can be somewhat inadvisable at times because of falling rocks from the cliffs, and during winter through spring the tides frequently get too unruly to even think about touching the tunnel – so be cautious even in summer. However, when its clear it's spectacular, with copious tidepools and rocky curiosities in abundance.

The entire area is crammed with stuff to play on as well as a sense of the serene and the surreal.

Yet much of the allure of secretive Oceanside is just outside its boundaries. There's the untamed Short Beach close by, with its rocky blobs and mesmerizing viewpoints (and a World War II-era bunker is hidden in the forest nearby). Just up the road is Cape Meares and its engaging lighthouse, along with a crazy feature called the Octopus Tree with a bizarre shape and seven, massive limbs that leave people puzzled. Odd Oceanside History Part 1

You can hike much of this as part of the Oregon Coast Trail, or miles of other trails at Cape Lookout State Park or Cape Meares. - Hiking Cape Lookout Trail on N. Oregon Coast Yields Soaring Views

Staying here? Camping at is abundant at Cape Lookout State Park and other county campgrounds. Best lodgings in the area include these Pacific City Hotels, Lodging.

Hotels in Oceanside - Where to eat - Oceanside Maps and Virtual Tours


More About Oregon Coast hotels, lodging.....

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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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