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The Beautiful Oregon Coast

Updated on October 7, 2015

It's the Coast, Not the Beach

The Oregon Coast: basalt rock cliffs, long sandy beaches and awesome tide pools, colonies of Sea Lions on the rocks, whales spouting off and breaching in the distance and beautiful sunsets. It is magical and in Oregon we call it the coast, not the beach).

I lived in Oregon for 20 years and once spent an entire week by myself camping on the coast from Florence to Astoria. My favorite section is the CENTRAL COAST between Florence and Lincoln City. Here are my favorite things to do and see while there, as well as places to stay and eat.

A Quick Coastal Overview

The Oregon Coast is usually thought of in 3 sections: North, Central and South. Each section is actually a bit different from the others.

The NORTH COAST is popular with visitors from Portland. Astoria, is the northern-most city and is parallel to Portland at the mouth of the Columbia River. There is a beautiful bridge there which takes you to the Washington side. In the northern section you will also find the Lewis and Clark camp and the Tillamook Cheese plant where you can take a tour. Seaside has accessible beaches and lots of activity and is very popular--good for families, but a bit more touristy than I care for. Cannon Beach is a cute little town with very pretty rocky views.

The CENTRAL COAST, which this lens will cover, starts in Lincoln City, which is also very popular with sandy beaches, and ends in Florence, with its nearby sand dunes.

The SOUTH COAST begins at Florence and includes Coos Bay and Bandon, again with some great rock outcroppings, as well as a strong Native American heritage. It is known for its oysters and cranberries. At Brookings, near the California border, you enter into the Redwoods region.

Getting to the Central Oregon Coast

Begin your trip to the central Oregon coast from Eugene. Choose a route that takes you into the city of Florence where you will meet up with Route 101. After exploring the Florence area, head north and you will be entering the Central Coast area. Most people reach the far northern section by way of Portland. If you want to travel the entire coast, I would give it at least a week, so you can take it easy and enjoy yourself.

Click on the lettered points on the map to see the names of the locations.

show route and directions
A markerLincoln City -
Lincoln City, OR
get directions

B markerNewport -
Newport, OR
get directions

C markerFlorence -
Florence, OR
get directions

D markerYachats -
Yachats, OR
get directions

Places to Eat on the Central Oregon Coast

In addition to the two downtown restaurants listed here, there are other good eateries in downtown Newport: one is a nice microbrewery. I am not as familiar with many of these new places, so have not included them here, but I'm sure if they are thriving that they are very good.

Guides for Hikes and Walks on the Oregon Coast

100 Hikes / Travel Guide: Oregon Coast & Coast Range
100 Hikes / Travel Guide: Oregon Coast & Coast Range

I am very familiar with this author who has been writing about hikes in Oregon for many years. You can't go wrong with this book or the next one.


Places to Visit Along the Central Coast

There are many, many spots to stop along the coast of Oregon. So much of it's coastline is public property. Check the tide charts as this will be a factor in what you are able to see. If the tide is minus or very low, you will have great tide pool views. If the tides are high, you should have better wave action and spouting horn views.

120 Hikes on the Oregon Coast (100 Hikes In...)
120 Hikes on the Oregon Coast (100 Hikes In...)

Another long-time local author who is an expert on hikes in the area.


Whales and the Oregon Coast

Whales migrate along the Oregon Coast and head south from December through early February and back north from March through October. For the northern trek, most pass by in March and April, but some do hang around and it is still possible to see whales throughout the summer.

A Good Reference Book for Oregon Coast Travel

Insiders' Guide® to the Oregon Coast, 2nd (Insiders' Guide Series)
Insiders' Guide® to the Oregon Coast, 2nd (Insiders' Guide Series)

The Insider Guides are all very good, I have found. This will give you information on more than just the Central Coast of Oregon. After all, you may want to travel the whole length of this incredible coastline.


Miscellaneous Tips - Just a Few Precautions

  1. For all you easterners, remember to say "Oragun", not Oregone.
  2. And Ya-hots, for Yachats.
  3. Watch out for waves and, as it is said, never turn your back on them. There is such a thing as a rogue or sneaker wave and people die from them every year.
  4. Be careful to not stand on the log piles as the waves can easily roll them and you will go with them.
  5. Don't pick up the animals from the tide pools, especially the starfish. Though tempting, when you pick up starfish you tear off their little feet.
  6. Be careful of the slippery seaweed on the rocks in the tide pools and don't go in those areas with bare feet as the barnacles and mussels will cut your feet.
  7. In the Northwest it is the "coast", not the "beach" or the "shore".

The Beachcomber' S Guide to Seashore Life in the Pacific Northwest
The Beachcomber' S Guide to Seashore Life in the Pacific Northwest

Well, you have to have one of these, especially if this will be a new experience for you. There is so much to see and you will be very curious about it all, I guarantee.


Simple Joys at the Oregon Coast

Here is a list of other things I have fun doing when visiting the Oregon coast.

  1. Looking for agates among the rocks on the shore. The best place to look is where there is a small rise of land behind the shore and/or a little stream coming down. Watch for rocks with a sort of semi-translucent quality.
  2. Looking for fossilized shells. Some beaches have quite a few fossils. They look like a cross between a real shell and a rock.
  3. Looking for glass floats. After storms, sometimes you can find glass floats, but you will have lots of competition and you have to get out there very early.
  4. Finding a wash up of Velella Jellyfish on the shore. It is beautiful and they signal soon-to-come glass floats and other interesting debris.
  5. Watching the fishing boats bring in their catch at the docks in Newport.
  6. Watching the sun seemingly disappear into the water at sunset.
  7. the winter months in Oregon when it is perpetually raining in the Willamette Valley (from Portland to Eugene and points south), the coast can be a welcome change. For, often when it is cloudy inland, the coast will be sunny. And if not, well, at least you have a completely different view.

Agates & Velella

More information about 2 of my favorite finds at the coast.

If You Are....

If you are a nature-lover, an artist, a photographer, a writer, a hiker, a will love the Central Oregon Coast. I can hardly wait to go back.

If you go, I hope you love it as much as I do.

Please remember to give your own rating of this lens at the top of the page by clicking on the stars. And, feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions.

Here's your chance to comment on this lens and/or add your favorite things about the Oregon Coast.

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    • stevehaugse profile image

      stevehaugse 5 years ago

      Cool photos! Looks cold up there though!

    • tricomanagement profile image

      tricomanagement 5 years ago

      Love a little town - Gold Beach- north of Hastings - just beautiful Love the Lens!

    • kevin-miller profile image

      kevin-miller 5 years ago

      I lived in Oregon for most of my life especially on the coast in Brookings, I loved every minute of it. Great lens.

    • profile image

      fixitlady 5 years ago

      Great lens! Thanks for sharing your love of the Oregon coast along with some terrific suggestions and descriptions.

    • profile image

      bossypants 5 years ago

      Part of my heart will always belong to Bandon, where I used to visit family. Enjoyed your article!

    • KateHonebrink profile image

      KateHonebrink 5 years ago

      Such a beautiful article, obviously written from the heart! Congratulations on being featured on the 50 States monsterboard!

    • LotusLandry profile image

      LotusLandry 6 years ago from Southern California

      Hello! I spent 19 years in Oregon, but I have also relocated to a big urban area - Los Angeles, in fact. We enjoyed McMinnville last year while driving from Central Coast to Portland.

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 6 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      Our family has spent many summers on the Oregon coast. We love Bandon. The baby seals are a delight to watch. Our favorite thing to do is; walking on the beach near sunrise and sunset. Thanks for reviving my memories of Oregon.

    • ellagis profile image

      ellagis 6 years ago

      Not fair. Not fair at all. See what you´ve done: now I´ll be dreaming about the Oregon Coast until I´ll go there!!!! :)

      With this lens you really made me fall in love with these places.

      Really a passionate lens, full of love and enthusiasm!

    • Barb McCoy profile image

      Barb McCoy 7 years ago

      ***Blessed by an Angel***

      Love the Oregon Coast! Thanks for the great lens.

    • hotbrain profile image

      hotbrain 7 years ago from Tacoma, WA

      I love the Oregon coast! Great lens with lots of info. When I visited Cannon Beach, I saw someone who had found a glass float! I can't wait to go to the Oregon coast again.. Maybe I will have to visit some of the places you mentioned. Blessed by me on my angel rounds :)

    • profile image

      kimmanleyort 7 years ago

      We are visiting the central Oregon Coast next May and this lens has been very helpful. I will be back often as we plan our trip. Thanks!

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 8 years ago from Idaho

      I love this lens, The Oregon Coast is a beautiful place to visit, we love it there! Thanks for being part of the Exploring Oregon Group. I have just updated our group and wanted to invite all the lensmasters to see our new facelift! Favoriting this lens!


    • profile image

      GHouse 9 years ago

      Hi!! Just come to see your nice lens. I did my travel lens too. It's about my hotel in hua hin Thailand. Hua Hin is a charming town of clean white sandy beach. If you come to Thailand, please visit us.

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 9 years ago from Idaho

      Hi, just wandering back through and stopped to say hello again to another that loves the Oregon Coast. I just created a new group called "Exploring Oregon and was wondering if you would like to join? You can join here. if you would like to. :-) PS: I am off to visit Oregon on Sunday, from Crescent City to Florence. I will say hi for you! ;-) Linda

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Nicely written! A great lens about one of the most beautiful spots on Earth. Thanks!

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 10 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      I just got back from 1 month vacation on the Oregon "Oregun" coast. Will took tons of pictures and we enjoyed a "beaching" good time. No place like the Oregon Coast. I really enjoyed your lens - it brought it all back to me. 5 stars, favorite, fan and lensrolled.

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 10 years ago from Idaho

      Great lens, we think alike!

    • profile image

      RickBasset 10 years ago

      What a beautiful place! Great lens! *****

      peace! :~)

    • profile image

      oregonian 10 years ago

      Great resource lens! I too love the Oregon coast and get over there ever chance I get! I prefer the south coast and the redwoods! I especially love the clean uncrowded beaches and the things to do there.

    • Kiwisoutback profile image

      Kiwisoutback 10 years ago from Massachusetts

      Great lens, the Oregon Coast is beautiful. It's a great alternative to anyone thinking of going to Big Sur. It's just as or more beautiful, but lacks the crowds. The views are unforgettable.

    • profile image

      anonymous 10 years ago

      Hi NJG! I stumbled on a really nice lens here! I love the Oregon Coast! It's so beautiful! Thanks for a great lens!

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 11 years ago from San Francisco

      Great lens on one of my favorite parts of the world. My sweetheart and I have spent many a happy hour whale watching from the cliffs of the Seevue outside Yachats. I could ramble on and on about the joys and dangers of the Central Coast, but you've covered it well. Enjoy!

    • profile image

      KevinHope 11 years ago


      I lived in Portland for a few years while I went to of my favorite memories is when my older brother came to visit me, and we went camping just outside cannon beach. The oregon coast may be the most beuatiful place on earth.

    • profile image

      lexxi 11 years ago

      Great travel lens! Very informative.