The Coast with the Most Adventures
Oregon Coast Adventure Guide
Spectacular state parks, giant sand dunes you can surf, a secret beach with dreamy sea stacks, and a sky full of whimsical kites flying overhead—this isn’t your average coast! In fact Oregon’s incredible 363-mile coastline is not all that far off from how it’s depicted in the latest “Oregon, Only Slightly Exaggerated” campaign. (Just watch out for flying jellyfish.) Take a road trip through hamlets and towns famous for classic movies like The Goonies, see numerous historic lighthouses, explore shipwreck beaches, wander bustling promenades, or go “sandboarding” at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.
Go With the Guides! Whether you’re looking to hike, bike, paddle, fish, whale-watch, go crabbing, or enjoy the Oregon Coast’s stellar food and drink scene, one of the best ways to enjoy a deeper experience is to book a guided tour. These friendly guides will handle your gear, transportation, tips for success, and other logistics so you can spend more time sharing those epic trip pics. Here are a handful of local guides and experiences to check out.
Just Dune It
It’s the most surreal sand landmark you may ever see. The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area looks like the stuff of sci-fi movies (and actually inspired the blockbuster film Dune), but its 42 miles of coastal abundance—sand, forest, rivers, and lakes—is real, and really fun! Ever tried sandboarding? As a cross between skateboard and wakeboard, the sandboard is an exciting way to surf this giant sandbox. For those who’d rather hike, Wavecrest Discoveries has some terrific guided options. You can also book a dune-buggy tour to see more of the coast at a thrilling pace. Dune-it-yourselfers can find plenty of ways to explore this magical part of the Oregon Coast.
Three Capes Scenic Loop
When it comes to scenic ocean drives, the Three Capes Scenic Loop is a great way to explore the coastline around Tillamook. The loop includes the geographically diverse Cape Lookout State Park, where you can hike to waterfalls in an old-growth forest and search the beach sands for glass floats. Also on the route: beautiful Cape Mears with its historic lighthouse, Heritage Octopus Tree, and lovely lakes for paddling. Book a tour of nearby Netarts Bay and other local waterways with the pros at Kayak Tillamook. The loop is also home to the only beachfront brewpub in the Northwest, Pelican Brewery. Go beyond the grocery aisle and visit Tillamook Creamery for a self-guided tour, a Tillamook grilled cheese sandwich, and some of their delicious ice cream.
Light the Way
Lighting the way for ships since 1894, Heceta Head Lighthouse sits atop a massive bluff just north of the town of Florence. For an up-close experience, hike a network of trails at Heceta Head Lighthouse Scenic Viewpoint, where you’ll have a good chance of spying gray whales during migration season, along with plentiful other wildlife, including eagles. Stay the night in the Heceta Lighthouse B&B, formerly the residence of assistant lightkeepers. Hikers will find no shortage of trail options in and around Florence, but a top recommendation is a section of the Oregon Coast Trail, where the scenery switches between forest and beach. Get the inside scoop on lighthouses, trails, beaches, shopping districts, and other coastal delights with a private sightseeing excursion offered by Oregon Traveling Tours.
Secrets of the Sand
Oregon’s literal Secret Beach is one of many highlights along the South Coast’s Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. This hike-in beach near Brookings surprises with waterfall coves and wondrous sea stacks. You can also hike part of the Oregon Coast Trail here and marvel at the photo-famous Natural Bridges arch at the cove. Bandon is home to more dramatic rock formations, including Table Rock, Elephant Rock, and Face Rock. At low tide during the summer you can sometimes find the elaborate Circles in the Sand—lovely walking labyrinths regularly created by two local artists. Then catch yourself a DIY dinner on a fishing trip with On the Line Guide Service. The pros will take you out for some of the best salmon, halibut, lingcod, tuna, and rockfish that swim in these waters.
Gold Beach is where kids and adults can find adventures without the bustle of coastal cities. The Wild and Scenic Rogue River has jet boat tours through canyons on the water, where you’ll ride the rapids with outfitters like Jerry’s Rogue Jets. Try something new with a fat-tire bike ride on the beach, where you’ll pedal on the sand, passing caves, sea stacks, and estuaries. This area is also known as the Banana Belt for its warmer year-round temperatures. Romantics should book a stay at the stunning Tu Tu’ Tun Lodge on the river. The experts at South Coast Tours can hook you up with adventures all along this spectacular coastal region, from ocean kayaking and surfing to scenic river floats, snorkeling, paddling, and more.
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