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Worst Beaches of the Oregon Coast

Published 2/06/24 at 3:35 a.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Worst Beaches of the Oregon Coast

(Oregon Coast) – There's a lot of made-up discussions about what are the best beaches of the Oregon coast, and it's all BS subjective, really. The same often goes for what is the worst: crowded or uncrowded, or whatever. Luckily, there aren't really any seriously litter-prone or dirty parts of this shoreline. (Falcon Cove / Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

However, there is a definite category of worst beaches around this region in terms of dangers.

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In Manzanita, Wheeler, Rockaway Beach:
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In Pacific City, Oceanside:
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In Lincoln City:
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Big ocean storms aren't always the killer, either. Sometimes it just takes a somewhat large tidal event – or the infamous sneaker waves. One big rule of thumb: if tides are high don't touch beaches where there's just cliffs behind you. Open beaches with sandy dunes between you and the street are fine – like Manzanita, Cannon Beach, Seaside, parts of Lincoln City, chunks of Gold Beach, or those stretches just north of Coos Bay. Other areas of Lincoln City have only one access and large, earthen walls, as does Newport's Nye Beach, Oceanside parts of Bandon, etc. These are where tides can trap you.

More of Oregon's worst beaches (for safety in high tide events):

Boiler Bay by Depoe Bay. Don't be daft and go down here. It's insanely slippery for one thing, but there's almost never an actual beach. Two teens died here in the '90s, and another pair had to be rescued in the last decade as they got themselves stuck on a remote rocky ledge. It and that famed boiler are meant to be viewed from above. Viewpoints, Tidal Surprises of Depoe Bay's Boiler Bay, Central Oregon Coast

Thor's Well and Cape Cove Near Yachats. Thor's Well is one of the hottest properties on the coast for snapping photos, but the dangers are routinely ignored. If water is gushing up out of it – stay far back. There are so many videos out there on the net of families and other folks getting knocked around by big waves coming out of it, all of them assuming they'll be fine.

One person visiting from Hawaii did die here last decade, and it's only a matter of time before there's another. Thor's Well at the Chasm, Video

Not far from it is Cape Cove Beach, really the bottom end of the south face of Cape Perpetua. That one is fine sometimes, but plenty of times during the year it literally does not exist: it's just a boiling cauldron of death. About Cape Cove Beach: Unique Spot Only Exists Half the Time

Courtesy Oregon King Tides

Bandon's Face Rock and Coquille Point. By far and away a couple of the loveliest beach walks along the coast, this section of Bandon doesn't kid around when it comes to storm waves. The biggest danger? Sneaker waves that charge far up the beach, quite a ways from the normal tideline.

Bandon's beaches – like Newport's Nye Beach and parts of Lincoln City – are the archetypal bad spot to be when tides get angry. There's only one egress point amid those high cliffs. Luckily, there haven't been many reports of really bad things happening to folks, but it's one of those areas that can get extremely dangerous.

Falcon Cove near Arch Cape. Just south of the Arch Cape Tunnel, one glorious little spot is wonderfully hidden behind a mountainous forest, sitting below a neighborhood you can't even see. Falcon Cove was once a true hidden spot, but these days many are familiar with it.

It's an unusual spot, as the tiny crescent of a beach usually doesn't have much sand and only large piles of rounded, polished stones. These make a really cool noise, nicknamed “Magic Rocks,” as the tide causes them to rattle. See more on Falcon Cove

However, winter and all but the calmest conditions here should be considered a no-no to venture out onto. A whole family died here in 2020 just walking the area above it, as a massive winter storm wave swooped up and grabbed the dad and kids. It was one of the more heartbreaking incidents on the coast.

Don't even hang out near the pathway edges when tides are unruly. All it took was one sneaky sneaker wave.

Photo courtesy CoastWatch / Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve

Rocky Point near Port Orford. A few miles south of Port Orford, and closer to Humbug Mountain, there's a subtle gravel pullout and what lies below isn't always evident. That's a good thing, because the access to Rocky Point is pretty iffy at times. In fact, the beach really doesn't exist at higher tides. Even at lower tides, there's not much to it, so be cautious even on fair weather days.

Still, this teensy spot found just south of the promontory called Rocky Point has loads of interesting things washing up. And after storms have finished with it some intriguing stones and bedrock can appear. It's like going back in time.

Beneath majestic Humbug Mountain provides only a small tract of beach as well, so it's best left alone when tides are close. Humbug Mountain and State Park on South Oregon Coast: Varied, Intricate Attractions

Photo courtesy CoastWatch / Julia Sumangil

Port Orford's Battle Rock. Under normal circumstances, Port Orford's famed Battle Rock is one of the most delectable of south Oregon coast spots on the scenic menu. Crawling up that giant slug-like mound of rock is one heckuva lot of fun. The views from here are exceptional as well.

However, there's not much space on this part of the beach, and higher tides can spell dangerous trouble. Watch the storms from above on the grassy areas.

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

Secret Beach, Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor. Near Brookings, Secret Beach is one of the big attractions in the area, but the length of the walk down and the steep slope of the last section often deters people from heading all the way to the sands.

And that's just as well. There are times when there is no Secret Beach: it's just one big mass of swirling, angry ocean. To add to the unsafe factor: it's not seriously maintained as it's not part of the state park system.

The path to Secret Beach is not to be trifled with, either. There was a death there in 2023 after a small group of folks ignored the main trail and veered off onto a smaller one that simply ended in a sheer cliff. One Deceased in Harrowing Fall, Rescue on S. Oregon Coast - Near Brookings

Oceanside and Tunnel. The grand north Oregon coast attraction sucks you in: that tunnel is hard to resist. Yet that beach in itself – and certainly the other side – can be but a mere sliver given the right oceanic conditions.

Then there's the danger of rockslides at Oceanside from above. In the '90s, there was at least one person who got stuck on the other side when rocks came tumbling down, closing off access. In late 2020, another slide trapped a lot more people on the other side – up around 12 individuals. This got a little tense for the US Coast Guard, as the tide started coming in. A few managed to crawl up the hillside while others had to be coaxed through a claustrophobic three-foot gap in the cliff debris. Oceanside, Oregon - Other Side of Maxwell Point, Hidden Area

Oregon Coast Beach Connection has video of another group of people ignoring the obvious dangers of that spot during higher tides.

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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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