With the promise of summer – and sun – just around the corner, a visit to one of Oregon’s many beaches is just the ticket for fun.
If you just want to relax or you’re looking for adventure, Oregon’s beaches have something for everyone – diverse landscapes, sandy beaches, rocky shores, dunes, caves and cliffs, towering pines, tide pools, whales and sea otters, an abundance of wildlife, flowers and fauna, lighthouses and breathtaking views. Highway 101 boasts plenty of small picturesque beach towns filled with attractions, eclectic art galleries and souvenir shops. And don’t forget the eateries, with everything from salt water taffy to homemade clam chowder.
Whether you take a picnic and a good book to read, go digging for clams, or choose to explore wetlands and wildlife estuaries, a trip to the beach will guarantee to destress and refresh you. Breathe in the ocean breeze, stare at the blue of the sea, and feel the warm sand squishing through your toes. Surf, sun and sand do the mind and body good, so make sure to head out soon for a day at the sea.
Here we’ve compiled a list of some of the best beaches for the 50+ population. We’ve considered ease of access to the beach, the view, parking, pets, and more.
South Oregon Coast
Shore Acres State Park
This is the gold standard for beautiful beaches/coastline in central Oregon. Not only are there spectacular views, but there’s a trail down to a beach, where you’ll feel like you’re on your own private island. Additionally, the state park boasts a fantastic botanical garden that blooms year-round.
“There are giant breaking waves, and storm watching is amazing there,” says Cheryl Crockett, manager of the Coos Bay Visitor Center. “The gardens are very lovely, well-kept and beautiful.”
Accessibility: Easy parking, access to the gardens and cliff views, but it’s a hike down to the beach.
View: It doesn’t get much better than this.
Pets: Dogs are not allowed outside your vehicle. This is to protect the botanical gardens.
Location/parking: 89039 Cape Arago Hwy., Coos Bay. Lots of parking, including RV parking.
Amenities: Spend time walking through the botanical gardens, enjoying the amazing views of the Pacific Ocean, and hiking down to the small beach where tide pooling is an option when the tide is out.
Bonus: Visit Shore Acres between Thanksgiving and New Year’s to see 320,000 lights on display. (Tip: Get there before dark on a weekday to beat the traffic. Lights turn on at 4:30 p.m. Walk the park, then go have dinner.)
Sunset Bay State Park
This beach is small, but it’s in a protected cove, which means less wind and the gentle waves. “It’s great for tide-pooling,” Crockett says. “It’s got its perks in the tidepools.”
Accessibility: Very easy to access the beach.
View: It’s the place to be when the sun goes down. During the day, expect to see kayakers who love the protection of the cove. When the seas are riled up, surfers will also catch a wave or two.
Pets: Not much room for walking because the beach is in a cove. Four pet-friendly yurts.
Location/parking: 89814 Cape Arago Hwy., Coos Bay. Easy parking.
Amenities: There’s a gazebo, grassy area and picnic tables. Bring lawn chairs to sit and enjoy the view.
Bastendorff Beach Park
Close by Sunset Bay, this beach is good for walking. Surfers also really enjoy the waves of this beach. “When the tide is out, you can get around to the south end of the beach and a cove where you can explore.”
Accessibility: Need to get through heavy dry sand to access the beach.
View: “You get that panoramic view of the ocean without ever having to get out of the car,” Crockett says. “Then you can drive down to the lower parking lot and walk out onto the beach.”
Pets: Good place to go for walks.
Parking: Parking is up on the bluff, where you can sit and enjoy the views, especially nice on Oregon’s cold and windy days.
Location: A short drive from Charleston about a quarter-mile off the Cape Arago State Highway.
Amenities: No picnic tables, but it does have a playground for kids, and a place to hold events. Two ADA-accessible vault restrooms are located in the middle and south parking areas. No running water at the beach.
“It’s got miles and miles of beach,” Crockett says. It’s not too far from the parking lot to the beach, but your dogs will love it. “Even the seagulls will get a workout from the dogs chasing them.”
Depending on water levels, the Sujameco, a 324-foot steamship that ran aground in 1929, can sometimes be seen at low tide.
Other activities include hiking, horseback riding, swimming and off-road vehicle access to Bull Run dunes.
Accessibility: Walk through dry sand to find a comfortable spot.
View: See the rolling hills of the sand dunes and the beach grasses swaying the breeze. As you crest the top of the dune separating the parking lot from the ocean, you get a vast view of water and sand as far as the eye can see.
Pets: Pups will be in paradise here.
Location: Two miles north of Coos Bay in North Bend.
Amenities: Not much, but there is a lot of driftwood on the beach if you need a place to sit.
Cape Arago State park
If you’re looking for a challenge, try Cape Arago. “It’s one of those beaches where the trail is not fabulous, and you need to be in halfway decent condition to get down and up the trail,” Crockett says. Plan about a 20-minute walk to the beach.
The south cove trail leads down to a sandy beach and superior tidepools where you can visit intertidal plants and animals (but please enjoy them with your eyes only). The north cove trail provides access for fishing, beachcombing, and viewing the off-shore colonies of seals and sea lions at Shell Island — a designated National Wildlife Refuge. The trail is closed March 1- June 30 to protect seal pups.
Accessibility: You’re “literally” going down a cliff, Crockett says.
Views: A scenic headland jutting into the Pacific Ocean, ADA accessible.
Pets: Probably best to leave them at home for this one.
Location: In Charleston, about 15 miles southwest of Coos Bay.
Amenities: Hiking, picnic tables, gazebo shelter, restrooms, fishing, tidepools.
North Central Coast
Cape Foulweather is a basal outcropping 500 feet above the Pacific Ocean. Captain James Cook sighted this cape in 1778 during his search for a passage to the Atlantic on his third voyage around the world. Can get very windy, hence the name. The small gift shop offers binoculars for visitors to view the Pacific, offering whale sightings and views of the whale-rich kelp beds.
“It’s my favorite coastline spot, but there is no sand except in the sea caves,” says Kerry Williams of Salem.
About two miles to the south, Beverly Beach State Park offers camping sites, yurts, full hook-ups for campers and trailers, a grocery store, and direct beach access.
Accessibility: Accessed by a winding tangle of roads connected to U.S. 101.
View: Breath-taking scenery from an open overlook.
Pets: Keep them on leash.
Parking: Ample and free.
Location: Otter Crest Loop by Depoe Bay about six miles north of Newport. Near the Devil’s Cauldron and the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. Small parking lot serves visitors.
Amenities: Gift shop with observation area. About 2 miles to the south, Beverly Beach State Park offers camping sites, yurts, full hook-ups for campers and trailers, a grocery store, and direct beach access.
Where the creek and the ocean meet is a nice beach with wind-sheltered picnic areas and a covered picnic shelter. Good place to fish, watch birds or explore its many tidepools. Wooden footbridges arch through the Sitka spruce, western hemlock, shore pine and alder forest. Cliffs rim the beach where the creek flows into the sea, cutting through a scenic ocean cove. Larry Lent of Salem loves the many “secret and secluded” trails at this beach, and he says, “Good luck finding them!”
Accessibility: Easy beach access with two entrances.
View: Good wildlife viewing.
Pets: Nice place to take pets.
Parking/location: Two large parking lots, on U.S. 101, two miles north of Depoe Bay.
Amenities: Restrooms, interpretive station, picnic area.
Taft Beach (SW 51st Street)
This beach on Siletz Bay offers a long stretch of sand that is perfect for building sand castles. People come from all around every August to join the locals in the annual sandcastle building contest. Taft Beach sports many tidepools, perfect for exploring on a walk. The bay has a forest of driftwood, seals, clams and crabs, and agates on the beach. More active individuals will appreciate opportunities to bike and windsurf. And the nearby historic district offers charming shops and boutiques.
Accessibility: Flat access.
View: Wide open views.
Pets: Very dog-friendly.
Parking: Parking is limited at most access points to south beaches. Ample parking nearby with short walk.
Location: Southern end of Lincoln City (near Mo’s)
Amenities: Restrooms, foot-wash station.
Roads End State Park
Drive past the Chinook Winds Casino on NE Logan Road and you’ll run into Roads End State Park, a neighborhood beach with a short paved path down to the sandy beach. Crowds are minimal and local, sunsets are stunning and the views to northern mountains make this a favorite.
Accessibility: Easy access, but must walk over some rocks to hop onto the beach.
View: Stay for the sunset.
location/parking: 5860 NE Logan Road, Lincoln City. Small parking lot maintained by state park system. Easy to sit and watch the beach from your vehicle on stormy days.
Amenities: Restrooms, foot-wash station.
Hug Point is a popular northern Oregon beach where, when the tide is out, you can view historic wagon wheel tracks carved into the rock where stagecoaches “hugged” the headland. This area also features natural caves and a small waterfall on the beach. During extreme lowest tides you can explore the tidepools at the bottom of the headland, but don’t get caught there. The tides can come in fast, and the beach is slick and rocky in places. Best to visit at low tide.
Accessibility: Easily accessible cliffs and shallow caves along the beach. Steep sloping walkway to the beach.
View: Panoramic views up on the point.
Pets: OK for pets.
Parking: Large parking area
Location: On U.S. 101, five miles south of Cannon Beach near Tolovana Park.
Amenities: Restrooms, picnicking, fishing, no potable water.
The town of Manzanita has an uncrowded beach that features seven miles of pristine sand and amazing views of Neah-kah-nie Mountain, where legend has it that treasure from a Spanish shipwreck is buried in the sand at its base. The beach is very convenient to downtown, where you can easily pick up a picnic lunch at a deli and walk down to the beach. Great kite-flying spot. One of the noteworthy features is its piles of driftwood. Watch out for sneaker waves.
Accessibility: Easy beach access and flat beach stretches along the coastline.
View: Good panoramic views.
Pets: Great for pets.
Location/Parking: Halfway between Seaside and Tillamook. Look for public parking signs near the beach.
Amenities: Water sports, horseback riding, fishing, crabbing, clamming and hiking at Neah-kah-nie Mountain. Nearby you’ll find a golf course, airport and Nehalem Bay State Park.
If it’s colonies of nesting sea birds, whales, seals and sea lions you want to see, the opportunities abound at Cape Meares, with three miles of hiking trails. Home of the Octopus Tree, and Oregon Heritage Tree and the largest Sitka spruce in the state. Prime whale-watching are during migration seasons, and a favorite nesting ground for sea birds. Perfect place for beach combing, kite flying, campfires and storm watching. Next to Cape Meares National Wildlife Refuge. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. April through October, visitors may take a free tour of the Cape Meares Lighthouse.
A 10-minute drive to Oceanside and Tillamook, Cape Meares offers many activities nearby, including wine-tasting at the Blue Heron French Cheese Factory, cheese tasting and tours at the famous Tillamook Cheese Factory, and the Tillamook Air Museum.
Accessibility: Easy access.
View: Spectacular and secluded beaches with scenic and wildlife viewing.
Pets: Good, but beach is rocky.
Parking: Space for about 25 cars. Lighthouse lot is paved with good parking.
Location: Borders the Bay Ocean Split separating Tillamook Bay from the ocean, 10 minutes west of Tillamook.
Amenities: Restrooms at lighthouse. Picnic tables, hiking trails, Kayak Tillamook County offers paddleboard and kayak group tours year-round.
Sitka Sedge State Natural Area
Explore Oregon’s newest state park, a local favorite for its peaceful trails and secluded beach. More than three miles of trails take a meandering route to the wide stretch of beach.
Sitka Sedge is all about views — open water, tidal flats, saltwater marshes, forested wetlands of Sand Lake Estuary, deer, ducks, birds and plants. Those willing to hike have beach views from Haystack Rock to the south and north to Cape Lookout. Even elk and cattle can be seen grazing on Sitka Sedge. Most of the park’s 375 acres are untouched. Perfect location to relax and reconnect with nature.
Accessibility: Along Sandlake Road, just north of Tierra del Mar.
View: Long views of sandy beaches.
Pets: Feel free to bring your dog, take a long walk, and then build a campfire on the beach.
Parking: 26 spaces for visitors and a day-use area.
Location: South of Sand Lake in Tillamook County and five miles north of Pacific City.
Amenities: Hiking, kayaking, botany, wildlife, clam-digging. No camping allowed. Restrooms by parking lot. ☸