Oregon's best beaches aren't tropical like a Hawaiian beach. Instead, the Oregon shore has wide open stretches of beach highlighted by towering rock formations, but also has beach towns filled with everything from microbreweries to family fun centers… and, of course, some saltwater taffy. There are remote stretches of untouched beach to explore too. No matter what you seek in a shoreline (short of a major commercial center on the water), you’ll find it in Oregon. And you can hardly go wrong with any span of shoreline in this Northwestern state, but these below are hands down among the best to visit.
The entire Oregon coastline is beautiful, but what makes the best beaches is a mix of things to do nearby, scenic bonuses like sea stacks, or special features that take the appeal of a shoreline up a notch.
There’s a reason why Cannon Beach is very possibly the most well-known of the Oregon beaches. The small town offers both casual and upscale hotels as well as ample shops, galleries and restaurants to explore. The beach is wide open and perfect for a long walk or simply sitting by the shore. At the far north end of the beach, Ecola Creek flows into the ocean and is an ideal place for young children to play or for photographers or bird watchers to spot waterfowl.
But the real highlight of this beach is Haystack Rock—a towering monolith just offshore that reaches 235 feet into the sky. Other rocks flank this mammoth and together they make for some of the best pictures you’ll get on the Oregon coast. When the tide goes out, exploring the tide pools around the rocks is popular and interesting.
Seaside is Oregon’s fun beach. The beach itself is a long stretch of sand where visitors can walk for miles either on the sand or on the lengthy paved boardwalk called the Promenade. Kite flying is popular here and even if you don’t bring your own, you’ll likely spot others sending colorful kites into the sky.
While Seaside is often hyped for its aquarium, the aquarium is just one attraction here (and is not a large aquarium so unless you have small children, it might be worth a skip). Wander along Broadway Street to see the best of Seaside’s shops and restaurants, but don’t miss Carousel Mall or a stop at one of the seafood restaurants like Dooger’s.
There’s a definite Coney Island feel to this area that’s unique among Oregon beach towns. It’s perfect for families, but places like Seaside Brewing Company ensure it’s equally perfect for adults. The entire Promenade is lined with ocean-view hotels. While the town is a lot of fun, perhaps the best time to be had is simply kicking back on your own deck at your hotel and watching the sunset.
Rockaway Beach is just to the south of Cannon Beach and Seaside and also offers a small town filled with plenty of things to do as well as even more places to check out nearby. The beach itself is wide open and great for beachcombing or flying a kite. Like Cannon Beach, this area is known for its proximity to some monoliths off shore. While these aren’t quite as tall as at Cannon Beach, the Twin Rocks are 100 feet high, and one of the giant rocks is an archway that makes for some pretty stunning photos. Also not far off is Tillamook, where you can visit the famous cheese factory and get delicious cheese to go at great prices, or sit down and enjoy the food hall where you can dine on pizza and other savories, ice cream, coffee shop fare and more.
Venture down the coast a bit farther to the south and you’ll arrive in Pacific City, a scenic town home to the Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area, which is part of the Three Capes Scenic Route along with Cape Meares and Cape Lookout. Cape Kiwanda is spectacularly beautiful and known for its big waves. Pacific City is also home to Bob Straub State Park and the Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge, making this an ideal coastline if you want to enjoy a more natural beach. But also don’t miss the Pelican Pub and Brewery in town!
Newport is a beach town located in Central Oregon and, like Seaside, is a great destination for the whole family. Visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium, go golfing, rent a bike, go deep sea fishing—the world (or at least Newport) is your oyster. One thing that makes the area unique is that Newport not only has fabulous ocean beaches, but also the Yaquina Bay. Walk or bike across the Yaquina Bay Bridge for watery views of a different sort, but really… you’re here for the beach. Newport is home to a few excellent beaches, including Beverly Beach where you can hunt for fossils after winter storms. Moolack Beach is quiet and a good place to hunt for agates. Or play or enjoy views of the lighthouse from Agate Beach.
Craggy cliffs, glass artwork, galleries and shops, and seven miles of beach make Lincoln City worth visiting. The beach is wide open and continuously longer than any other beach in the state. The area is known for a number of glass blowing studios and artists, who band together to hide glass floats (handblown, hollow glass balls) on the beach in an event called Finders Keepers that takes place from mid-October to Memorial Day. There’s nothing that makes a beautiful beach even more enjoyable like finding some glass art. And you can keep what you find!
Meyers Creek Beach
What you won’t find at Meyers Creek Beach, which is located just south of Gold Beach, is development. What you will find is some of the most seriously scenic oceanfront you’ll ever see. Giant rocks called sea stacks much like Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach dot the beach, but unlike at other Oregon beaches, these rocks come right up on shore—up close and personal. Meyers Creek flows through the sand and out to the sea. The result is something a little prehistoric, a little wild and a whole lot of gorgeous.