Fun fact: There are 363 miles of Oregon coastline…and every single mile is open to the public! With coastline come beaches and the Beaver State has plenty. In fact, it was hard to choose just five of the best for this list because they are all unique and beautiful in their own way.
Cannon Beach, located about an hour and a half northwest of Portland, is one of, if not the most popular beaches in Oregon. It has even appeared in quite a few movies, including The Goonies, Twilight, and Free Willy. Cannon Beach was also named one of the world’s 100 most beautiful places by National Geographic in 2013.
Famous for its Haystack Rock, which is a mere 235 feet from the edge of the beach, Cannon Beach also boasts plentiful tide pools to explore, mountain views, and a national wildlife refuge, where you may even be able to view puffins. Aside from combing the beach, you can also find plenty of hiking trails in nearby Ecola State Park just minutes away.
Meyers Creek Beach
Located at the southern tip of the Cape Sebastian State Scenic Corridor near Gold Beach, OR, Meyers Creek Beach is somewhat of a well kept secret. Although it has been featured in commercials for car manufacturers and home to many windsurfing championships, its remote location keeps this beach fairly less populated than some.
There are plenty of things to check out at Meyers Creek that make it worth a visit, though. This area is also known for its spectacular sea stacks, as well as the Pistol River Estuary, Goat Island, and Cape Sebastian to the north. One of the sea stacks even features a tunnel which, during very low tides, you can walk through.
Devils Punch Bowl State Natural Area
The Devils Punch Bowl, found in the community of Otter Rock, a little under a two hour drive northwest of Eugene, is known for its unique rock formation. Created by what is commonly believed to have been two sea caves collapsing, the circular rock formation of Devils Punch Bowl has an opening on the Pacific side, creating churning, turbulent waters within.
Other than the unique rock formation, this area is also popular among surfers and whale watchers. The best chance to view whales is between December and January and again between March and April. Seal viewing is also possible. You can check out tide pools as well on the north side of the punch bowl.
Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor
Though the actual beaches here are small and many are rocky, there are plenty of interesting sights to take in. Since it’s located just a little further south of Meyers Creek Beach, consider planning a visit there and the Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor for an epic weekend beach road trip!
This natural area boasts everything from beaches to Sitka spruce forests, sea stacks to sand dunes. Some of the most popular spots include the Natural Bridges viewpoint, Arch Rock, Thunder Rock Cove, and Secret Beach. Though all have short trails leading to them (under 2 miles, many under 1), most of the beaches along here stay pretty quiet.
Ample pull out spots are offered along the 12 mile stretch of coastline Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor inhabits as well as picnic areas and viewpoints galore. Whale watching is also popular in this area and the best times for viewing are during the fall and spring.
Neskowin Beach State Recreation Site
Heading back up the coast to Tillamook county for our last stop, the Neskowin Beach State Recreation Site holds a truly unusual natural feature. Believed to have been created by seismic activity over 2,000 years ago, an eerie “forest” of tree stumps appears on the shoreline at low tide, known as the Neskowin Ghost Forest.
Interestingly, these ancient tree stumps were not discovered until relatively recently in the winter of 1997-98 when strong storms battered the coast, blowing away sand and revealing the hidden forest. Neskowin is 1 of 30+ ghost forests that can be found along the Oregon and Washington coast.
Perhaps the best place to check out this ghost forest and surrounding beach is from Proposal Rock. Exercise caution and keep an eye on the tides, though, as this is technically an island and can only be reached during low tides.
Are you having a hard time choosing which beach to visit first? Not to make your decision even harder, but here is a list of runner-ups for the top scenic beaches on the Oregon Coast!
- Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area
- Haceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint
- Neptune State Scenic Viewpoint
- Rockaway Beach
- Sunset Bay State Park
You can’t really go wrong with any beach you visit on the Oregon coast. Looking for somewhere to kayak on the Oregon Coast? Check out this article where we detail our favorite kayaking spots in Oregon.