10 Best Oregon Beaches to Dip Your Toes in The Sand

Mattia Panciroli / Flickr

Oregon has some truly amazing beaches.  Do you know where to go to see wild tufted puffins?  How about the best Oregon beach to look for starfish, or where to find the wreck of the Peter Iredale?  If you’re looking for a place to view spectacular waves crashing during a winter storm, or want to find the perfect beach to explore with your family, go sandboarding, or fly a kite, these 10 beaches are some of the most special beaches anywhere.

Unforgettable Northern Oregon Beaches

Fort Stevens State Park

In October of 1906 the Peter Iredale ran aground so hard that it snapped three of it’s masts. All crew members and two stowaways were rescued. Photo by LDELD via Flickr CC2.

Fort Stevens is a popular summer getaway for families in the Portland Metro area because of the large variety of things to do.  Camping, beachcombing, and viewing the historic shipwreck of the Peter Iredale are just the tip of the iceberg.  Families will enjoy exploring the five beaches at Fort Stevens, swimming and fishing in the freshwater lakes in the park, playing in the sand and flying kites.  Those interested in history will love taking tours of the historic Fort Stevens military base.  There are also nine miles of paved bicycle trails and six miles of hiking trails that will lead you through forests, wetlands, sand dunes, and along the shore.  Wildlife viewing at Fort Stevens is also popular.

Hug Point State Recreation Site

A waterfall, the beach, and caves, all within 90 minutes of Portland? Count me in! Photo by Ian Sane via Flickr CC2.

Hug Point has easy beach access and features a seasonal waterfall and several caves to explore.  This is a popular destination for Portlanders since it’s only 90 minutes from the city.  Take care when visiting the scenic Hug Point.  It’s possible for the tide to come in if you aren’t paying attention and strand you.  Many people have had to be rescued because they weren’t aware of when the tide was supposed to be high.

Visitors should use caution when exploring the caves and tidal pools at Hug Point. Photo by Lessa Clayton via Flickr CC2.

Oswald West State Park

Surfing is popular at Short Sand Beach. Photo by Eric Prado via Flickr CC2.

Take a leisurely half mile walk through the forest down to Short Sand Beach when you visit the scenic Oswald West State Park.  From the main parking lot you’ll follow a trail along Short Sand Creek under Highway 101, until you reach the beach.  Surfing and wildlife viewing are popular at this secluded sandy piece of heaven.

Cape Falcon offers stunning views and beautiful forest hikes. Photo by LunchWithALens via Flickr CC2.

Don’t forget to visit Blumenthal Falls, take in the natural beauty of Cape Falcon and Neakahnie Mountain, and hike the five trails that wind their way through the park’s forests and up it’s mountainsides.  While there’s no camping at Oswald West State Park, there is lodging nearby in Arch Cape, and in Bayside Gardens.  There is also camping 3 miles away at Nehalem Bay State Park.

Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area

The beaches of Pacific City are the perfect place to take a relaxing walk at sunset as the waves lap at your feet. Photo by JATomlinson Photography.

Pristine beaches, fishing, surfing, sandboarding, hang gliding, kite flying, bonfires on the beach.  Cape Kiwanda and it’s miles of beaches are the perfect place to spend a relaxing day, or to get an adrenaline rush.

Cape Kiwanda is a well known spot to witness spectacular waves along the Oregon Coast. Photo by JATomlinson Photography.

When you visit the beaches at Cape Kiwanda you’re setting yourself up for unforgettable memories with your loved ones.

Spectacular Central Oregon Beaches

Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area

Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. Photo by Jim Bauer via Flickr CC2.

This truly outstanding natural area features tide pools to explore at Cobble Beach and Quarry Cove, as well as whale watching, an interpretive center, and several easy scenic trails to follow.  When you go tide pooling be on the lookout for giant green anemones, star fish, hermit crabs, and purple sea urchins.  Gray whales can be seen year round, though spring is an excellent time to see the migration in March and April.  You’ll also likely spot seals and barking sea lions.  Peregrine falcons and thousands of seabirds give birth to and raise their young here.

Tours of the lighthouse are also available on a first come first serve basis, though you can reserve your tour spot in advance online.

The cost to park is $7, but the fee is well worth it.

If you want to get out and hike, the Lighthouse Trail is an easy .3 mile loop.  The Communications Hill Trail is an easy .2 mile hike and the Salal Hill Trail offers scenic views along it’s easy .7 mile route.

Jessie M. Honeyman State Park

The sand dunes along lake Cleawox are the perfect place to spend a day playing in the sand, or sandboarding with your friends and family. Photo by Xtaxta via Flickr CC2.

Honeyman is one of those places many Oregonians have a special place for in their heart.  This coastal state park features beaches, sand dunes, two lakes and campgrounds.  There’s even a Girl Scout camp on one side of Lake Cleawox.  People enjoy walking on the beach, but they also enjoy sandboarding down the dunes that surround Lake Cleawox, as well as swimming, kayaking, and canoeing in the clean lake.  There are also tiny lizards that swim in Lake Cleawox that children enjoy watching and trying to catch.  Many families make a yearly pilgrimage to Honeyman.  Florence Oregon is just a short drive away, and people enjoy visiting the Heceta Head Lighthouse and Sea Lion Caves.  The Oregon Dunes National Recreation area is also nearby.

Unique Southern Oregon Beaches

Face Rock Scenic Viewpoint

Tufted Puffins nest at Face Rock from May to August, so keep your eyes peeled when you visit this incredible beach.

Tufted Puffins in Oregon?  You might not think you’d see this interesting bird along the Oregon coast, but Face Rock is part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, and from May to August these seabirds nest at Face Rock.

Face Rock Scenic Viewpoint. Photo by Andy Smith via Flickr CC2.

This beach also features dozens of interesting sea stacks, including the famous Face Rock.  Native American Legend says a woman went to the beach with a basket of animals and a dog.  She told the dog to watch the animals while she took a swim.  While she was swimming a sea monster tried to drag her down.  The dog took the basket of animals into the water and tried to save her, but the monster threw the dog and animals away, creating the various sea stacks you see near Face Rock.  The woman drowned looking skyward to avoid looking into the eyes of the sea monster, and turned into Face Rock, which looks like a person looking to the sky.

Local artists have been known to make sand labyrinths at this beach, making it a fun place to take children.

Cape Blanco State Park

Cape Blanco is the Westernmost point in Oregon and is home to Oregon’s Southernmost lighthouse. Photo by Clinton Steeds via Flickr CC2.

Take a tour of the historic lighthouse and Hughes House at Cape Blanco State Park.  Tours are only $2 per adult and free for children 15 and under, and are available from April to October.  Cape Blanco features over 8 miles of trails with spectacular ocean views and woodland settings.  There are also seven miles of horse trails and a horse camp, so if you have dreams of riding your horse along the beach at sunset, this is the place you want to be.

You can reserve cabins, group camps, and horse camps at Cape Blanco.  There are also regular campsites that are first come first serve.

Indian Sands

When you get to the parking lot at Indian Sands, there’s a trailhead.  Instead of taking the trail head go to the southern end of the parking lot and find the wide footpath going uphill and through the forest.  The trail can be a little steep, but once you reach the bottom of the slop follow the trail west and it will come out of the forest and continue on to the dunes.  Unlike most dunes along the Oregon Coast which are created with sand from the sea bed, these dunes are sand from the eroding sandstone cliff.  This is a truly unique and special place.

Harris Beach State Park

Harris Beach State Park has Oregon’s largest offshore Island. Goat Island plays host to nesting tufted Puffins. Photo by Mark Goebel via Flickr CC2.

Harris Beach State Park is known for beautiful beaches interspersed with rocky outcroppings and dozens of sea stacks.  A 3 mile long intertidal marine garden is the perfect place to look for colorful starfish and sea anemones with your kids, while the beach provides the perfect place to fly kites and build sand castles.  You’ll also have abundant opportunities to view wildlife.  Go whale watching in the spring and winter, or keep a lookout for seals, sea lions, and rare sea birds such as the tufted puffin, which nests on Goat Island, Oregon’s largest off shore island.

Many enjoy going to Harris Beach in the winter to view violent and dramatic storms with crashing waves, while others enjoy spending time there in the spring when all the fragrant wildflowers are in bloom.  Beachcombing is a popular activity along the Harris Beach shores, and many enjoy the interpretive walks available.

Fall is the best time of year to visit Harris Beach State Park when the weather is perfect for recreation, but Summer is a popular time to fly kites. Photo by JD Hascup via Flickr CC2.

Have you been to any of these amazing beaches?  Which one is your favorite?  While Oregon has many more popular beaches to explore, these are some of the most unique along the Oregon coastline.  Tag a friend you’d like take an Oregon coast adventure with.

Sunset Lodgingl

Guest Author