The Pacific Northwest’s diverse topography and varied terrain is one of the greatest blessings for those who live here. Long sand beaches, snowcapped mountains, the high desert, and lush temperate rainforests are all within an hour or two of Portland. In the winter, one of the best displays of nature’s force takes place on the ocean beaches of the Oregon coast. During this time of the year, while the Willamette Valley is socked in with dreary winter rains, the waves of winter swells strike the coast with abandon.
But waves aren’t the only reason to visit the coast, whatever the season. There is an enormous amount to explore here: the seastacks and spires that dot the coast, tide pools with a menagerie of ocean wildlife, the sand and surf, historic lighthouses, and the rocky, rugged shorelines that show off the ocean’s power in a winter storm. T
To further inspire your next visit to Oregon's beaches, we are excited to share The People's Coast - a video celebrating Oregon's unique public coastal access. Created in partnership with Travel Oregon, Outdoor Project, Outlive Creative, Oregon State Parks and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, The People's Coast dives into the story behind Oregon's public beaches and features an array of recreational opportunities awaiting you there. Sit back and enjoy The People's Coast video in the slideshow above.
Here are some of Oregon’s best beaches.
Northern Oregon Coast
- Cannon Beach: Home of Haystack Rock and tide pools and close to Portland, Cannon Beach is a reliable standby beach destination. Don’t miss Ecola State Park either, just to the north.
- Pacific City: One of the best places on the Oregon coast to surf, and right next to the sandstone beauty of Cape Kiwanda.
- Gearhart Beach: With nostalgic ambience and beach town charm close to Portland, Gearhart Beach is perfect for beach combing and long walks—and for spotting the occasional bald eagle.
Central Oregon Coast
- Roads End State Recreation Site: As close as much of the northern coast is to Portland, many beaches get busy with Portland visitors. Roads End isn’t one of them. If you are making the drive out toward Lincoln City, stop here to enjoy the tide pools and rock formations in solitude.
- Otter Rock + Devils Punchbowl: This stretch of central Oregon coast south of Depoe Bay offers a look into the erosive forces of the mighty Pacific, with the main exhibit at Devils Punchbowl. The viewpoints here are ideal for whale watching, and when swells are of a smaller more manageable size, the beach just south of the Punchbowl is a regional highlight for surfing as well.
- Thor’s Well + Cook’s Chasm: The coastline here is rugged and rocky, perfect for photographing the volcanic features and watching the waves, especially at Spouting Horn.
- Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area: One of the best places on the coast to see ocean wildlife, including sea lions, gray whales, green anemones, purple sea urchins, mussels, barnacles, hermit crabs, and more.
- Seal Rock State Recreation Site: For those uninterested in the sea lion caves to the south, rock outcroppings at Seal Rock are ideal for resting seals and sea lions. Tide pools are an added bonus!
- Yachats State Park: The rugged rock features at the mouth of the Yachats River are great for watching winter waves.
Southern Oregon Coast
- Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor: The most rugged and scenic stretch of shoreline in the state also features Secret Beach and Indian Sands, offering seclusion and spectacular views.
- Secret Beach: Though access is tricky, Secret Beach is as secluded as it sounds and just as scenic.
- Indian Sands: Cliffside dunes with unparalleled views along the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor.
- China Beach: One of the least visited beaches within the Samuel H. Boardman corridor requires a 1.2-mile round-trip hike, but you’ll likely have the beach to yourself.
- Bullards Beach State Park: A family-friendly beach close to Bandon that features a historic lighthouse.
- Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint: One of Oregon’s more unique beaches with a wide variety of seastacks, you may even find a few labyrinths traced out of the sand. Also a hotspot for birding.
- Myers Creek Beach: Scenic and secluded, occasional winds make Myers Creek Beach ideal for windsurfers.