If you were to ask Oregonians what defines Oregon’s beaches, you’d probably get a myriad of different answers. Is it the panoramic, historical lighthouses dotting the coastline that make Oregon’s beaches so special? Or, rather, is it the sheer cliffs and rugged landscapes that define the essence of the Oregon coast?
In truth, it’s all of the above. Whether it’s lighthouses to cliffs, Oregon has an incredible coastline. From the warm dunes in the south to the trendy towns further north, the array of diverse landscapes and scenery is breathtaking.
With such a great selection of beaches, it’s often difficult to figure out which one to visit.
Whether you’re an Oregon local looking for a new beach or you’re traveling from far away, we’ve curated our favorite Oregon beaches so you can spend more time enjoying your trip and less time figuring out where to go. With that in mind, let’s dive right in:
The Best Oregon Coast Towns
We could go on and on about Oregon’s coast but for now, we’ve started off with 11 of our favorite Oregon beach towns AND the best adventures in the area. After all, Oregon’s beaches are not the type of beaches you come to bask under the sun so we’ve got your sorted on what you should do there.
And here’s a handy map to quickly see where each Oregon beach is:
1. Cannon Beach, Oregon (One of The Most Popular Oregon Coast Towns)
Arguably Oregon’s most iconic beach, Cannon Beach is the epitome of everything the Oregon coast is: picturesque, quaint, and memorable. Haystack Rock stands out as a coastal landmark, but almost everything about this beach screams scenic. What’s more, there’s a ton to do here for adventurers, and this is a must-see for anyone considering traveling to the Oregon coast.
Here are our absolute favorite adventures to treat yourself to during a trip to this Oregon coast town:
Explore Ecola State Park
A wildly popular state park located in the heart of Cannon Beach with a great complex of trails and views to explore, Ecola State Park is a fantastic option for adventurers wanting a classic Oregon coast experience.
The 2.5 mile Clatsop Loop Trail is one of our favorites, but there are plenty of options to explore here. Before you decide to head out to the park, understand that it can get pretty busy, and parking space can be tough. If it’s a weekend, leaving extra early (or late, because who doesn’t love sunsets) can pay off tremendously.
Hike to Neahkahnie Mountain
About thirty minutes south of Cannon Beach, Neahkahnie Mountain is one of the most beautiful hikes on the entire Oregon coast. Boasting panoramic views up and down the coastline, Neahkahnie is a local favorite.
You can approach this one of two ways: from the north trailhead, the hike ends up close to 6 miles round-trip.
If you’re coming in from the south, it’ll top out right around 3 miles round-trip, making for a much shorter and quicker day hike. There’s no shame in whichever option you choose; regardless, you’ll be met with jaw-dropping views once you reach the peak.
Kayak Ecola Creek
If you’re into kayaking, Ecola Creek isn’t one to miss. It runs straight into the Pacific Ocean, but the true kayaking action happens a little bit further upstream. The creek is small but certainly navigable, and you can experience some of the most spectacular scenery the Oregon Coast has to offer.
Kayaking down onto the beach stretch is particularly memorable; there’s nothing quite like it.
The one drawback to all this is that kayak rentals are not available on Ecola Creek. If you have your own kayaks, this is a great option (and you’ll probably have it all to yourself).
However, if you’re looking to rent, we’d recommend kayaking the Necanicum River in Seaside, just a few minutes from Cannon Beach: there are kayak rentals available there, and it’s a great spot to go for a couple of hours.
Walk to Haystack Rock
It would be silly to call this one a hike, but the short jaunt along the beach to Haystack Rock is one worth taking. Access the beach wherever you can (there are plenty of access points in and around town), and walk to the giant, lone rock in the ocean. It’s that simple!
At low tide, you’ll be able to walk around the tide pools and see some cool aquatic life around the rock. As the tide comes in, the waves engulf the base of the rock, but it’s no less beautiful. No matter what time you visit Haystack, it’s a Cannon Beach icon and can’t be ignored.
2. Florence Beach, Oregon
Notably, further south on the coastline than Cannon Beach, Florence offers a different kind of Oregon coast experience, packed with great restaurants, rivers, and dunes to explore. Its scenery rivals some of the best on the rest of the coast, and there are plenty of things to do in the area for adventurers.
Here are the top adventures to try at this Oregon coast town:
Rent a Dune Buggy
One unique option this region of the coast offers that areas further north do not, renting a dune buggy to roam the dunes is one of the most exhilarating adventures in Florence.
A pro tip for those prone to motion sickness: take some medication before you hop in a buggy. As weird as it may seem, motion sickness can be extremely common when you’re in a dune buggy. The turning, hills, and variable speeds can do a number on you if you’re not careful. That said, it’s a blast, and we recommend it to anyone looking for a good time in Florence.
Kayak the Siltcoos River
The Siltcoos River, which comes out of Siltcoos Lake, is hands down the best kayaking spot in Florence. It’ll take you through some lush coastal forest scenery, and the current isn’t too strong.
It’s a great option for kayakers of all levels, and whether you love kayaking or just want to try something new on your beach vacation, the Siltcoos is the place for you.
Fun fact: Siltcoos Lake is one of the few lakes in Oregon that gets a salmon run. If you’re in the area during salmon season, which is generally late summer into the fall, you can try your hand at coho fishing in the lake – it’s a blast!
Hike the Heceta Head to Hobbit Beach Trail
The Hobbit Trail, quite fittingly named after the popular Lord of the Rings characters, doesn’t disappoint when it comes to scenery. A gorgeous beach, historic lighthouse, and sweeping ocean views are all in store on this trail.
At just under four miles round-trip, this is a great side excursion for adventurers interested in a great hike that won’t take all day. The parking lot here can get pretty full, so going on weekdays or early hours can be best to make sure you get a spot.
3. Neskowin Beach, Oregon
Offering more solitude and equally impressive views as its cousin to the north, Pacific City, Neskowin is one of the best Oregon coast towns out there. The town is quaint yet has a couple of stellar restaurants, and there are endless opportunities for things to do in the area when it comes to adventuring.
Neskowin is an excellent choice for the beachgoer looking for some solitude and plenty of fun outdoor activities in the area.
Even though the town isn’t huge and lodging options can be limited, it’s a fantastic beach that often gets overlooked. Put simply, Neskowin is without a doubt worth your time.
Here are some of our favorite adventures at this Oregon coast town:
Climb Proposal Rock
If you find yourself on the beach in Neskowin, you shouldn’t have much trouble identifying Proposal Rock; the lonesome icon stands out along the waterfront and is accessible from the beach during low tide. Though there aren’t any officially maintained trails here, there are plenty of footpaths on the rock that can be followed by intrepid adventurers.
For those wanting some help up (or down), there is a rope hanging down from the side of the rock. This can be extremely helpful in getting up the initially steep cliff face.
The views from the top can be incredible, but make sure you’re capable and understand the risks before you go.
As with any adventure involving steep cliffs and deep water, exercise caution when attempting Proposal Rock. Only those in great physical condition should attempt it, but it’s worthwhile for the few who are willing to try, and makes for a great beach experience.
Hike Hart’s Cove Trail
This gorgeous, 5.3-mile trail isn’t right in the heart of Neskowin; rather, you’ll need to drive about fifteen to twenty minutes south of the town to reach the trailhead itself. The trail is certainly worth the short drive, and the views are unparalleled.
The hike doesn’t gain or lose a drastic amount of elevation, and while it’s steep at times, the Hart’s Cove Trail hike is one that is accessible to people of all ages. It’s not hard nor easy, so bear that in mind before you head out.
At 5.3 miles, this trail makes for a perfect day hike.
The shorter length means it won’t take all day, so you don’t need to plan for an extended excursion–though once you reach the end of the trail, you may not want to leave. Sweeping ocean views await, and the trail is one of the most rewarding on any of Oregon’s beaches.
4. Gold Beach, Oregon
Not too far from the Oregon-California border, Gold Beach boasts a host of perks that you won’t find in many other Oregon beach towns: warmer weather, vast dunes, and the mighty Rogue River.
What’s more, there are a multitude of unique adventures in this area, and it truly is one of the best spots on the Oregon coast for outdoor adventurers.
Here are some of our favorite adventures at this Oregon coast town:
Jet Boat the Rogue River
A trip to Gold Beach wouldn’t be quite complete without jet boating the Rogue River. A local tourism icon and fun-filled experience, jet boating a coastal river like the Rogue is an adventure you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in Oregon.
You’ll whiz by plenty of lush coastal forest scenery along the way, and we haven’t heard of anyone who’s regretted this trip.
The jet boating experience isn’t cheap, but it’s worth every penny. The Rogue is a designated Wild & Scenic river, and for good reason. It offers plenty of diverse scenery, and the jet boating trip is just one of a thousand things one could find to do on the Rogue.
Enjoy Scenic Views Along Cape Sebastian & Mouth of Pistol River
The Cape Sebastian Trail, located just a few minutes south of Gold Beach itself, is one of the most rewarding hikes on the Oregon Coast. The total round-trip mileage is just under 3 miles, making it a quick hike. That said, there’s no rush to leave. The trail consistently delivers panoramic views of Cape Sebastian and the Pacific before making a final descent to a picturesque beach.
Bring a picnic basket and a blanket, because this beach is a great one to relax. The trail descends fairly steeply down to the beach, so be ready for some pretty intense switchbacks on the way back up.
Regardless of elevation gain, the Cape Sebastian Trail is a fairly easy and remarkably scenic trail, and it’s a Gold Beach gem.
Just down the way is the pretty spectacular Mount of Pistol River. A gorgeous beach that requires some scrambling over sand dunes before you get to shore. Take a stroll towards your left where you’ll see tons of sea stacks in the distance, you’ll only have the share the beautiful location with some seagulls.
Check out Samuel H Boardman while you’re in the area as well for more stunning sea stacks sprinkled along the coastlines and the rushing tides hitting the cliffsides.
Book a Charter Boat and Go Salmon Fishing
Because of the presence of the Rogue, Gold Beach is an Oregon Coast icon when it comes to fishing. The river gets strong salmon and steelhead runs, and is somewhat of a landmark for anglers across the entire state.
Booking a charter boat is one of the most exciting ways to experience this premier fishery.
There are plenty of charters in Gold Beach, and the type of fishing you’ll do will depend on the time of year. Salmon fishing is mainly contained to spring and late summer through fall, but bottom fishing in the ocean can be significantly more versatile, and if the salmon aren’t running, you’ll be sure to have a blast bottom fishing.
The Pacific Ocean holds some particularly delicious and fun fish, so whatever you choose to do, we’re sure you’ll have a good time.
5. Astoria Beach, Oregon
An iconic Oregon Coast town situated at the mouth of the Columbia River, Astoria is spectacular. It’s historic, gorgeous, and above all, holds some of the most exciting outdoor adventures along the entire Oregon Coast. It’s worth noting, however, that Astoria will be significantly more exciting if you have an interest in fishing.
The rivers and streams in Astoria (most importantly the Columbia) are known to have the some of the finest fishing in the state, and anglers flock from all over the country to get a taste of what they have to offer.
These are some of our favorite adventures to explore around this Oregon coast town:
Explore Trails in Cape Disappointment State Park
Contrary to its gloomy name, Cape Disappointment State Park offers some incredible views and well-maintained trails. It’s a bit of a stretch to say that it’s in Astoria, as you’ll have to drive across the Columbia River into Washington to access the park. That said, the state park is less than a half hour drive from Astoria, and the trails are well worth your time.
We particularly recommend the North Head trail, as you’ll get panoramic views of the historic North Head lighthouse in addition to a refreshing walk through the lush coastal forest.
Troll for Salmon at Buoy 10
For those not familiar with Oregon salmon fishing lingo, Buoy 10 is widely known as the most productive salmon fishery in Oregon.
To clarify, Buoy 10 isn’t a river: it’s a swath of water on the Columbia River near Astoria, and it’s the most popular stretch of the Columbia River in all of Oregon. Because it’s so near the ocean, fish coming into the Buoy 10 area will be feisty, fresh, and aggressive; high-quality fish.
Buoy 10 is most popular from late July through October, when both chinook and coho salmon are available.
Chinook, the larger of the two, generally come in earlier, and fishing for them is usually not permitted after late August. The coho run, however, arrives later, and anglers can generally target these all the way into October.
There are plenty of fishing guides to choose from if you’re looking to explore Buoy 10 and the Columbia. It can get a little expensive, but catching a Columbia River salmon is an experience you’ll remember for a lifetime.
6. Pacific City Beach, Oregon
Just a short drive to the north of the aforementioned Neskowin, Pacific City is popular with Oregon locals from all over–it offers great views, restaurants, and plenty of outdoor adventures close to the city. Characterized by its massive sand dune (and the resulting incredible views from the top), Pacific City offers a host of adventuring options.
Here are a few of the best adventures at this Oregon coast town:
Climb the Giant Sand Dune
When you arrive at Pacific City, there will be no ambiguity as to which sand dune we’re referring to; the towering dune can be seen from miles away, and is one of the most unique attractions on the Oregon Coast.
There’s not really a designated trail to the top; rather, this one is best improvised.
Looks can be deceiving, and what seems like a relatively easy climb can get pretty tiring due to the incline of the slope. The views from the top are nearly unparalleled by any other viewpoint on the Oregon Coast, and the dune alone is almost enough to make Pacific City one of the best beaches in Oregon.
Rent a Paddle Board on the Nestucca River
Many Oregon coast towns are characterized by some sort of river flowing through them.
From the Columbia in Astoria to the Rogue in Gold Beach, healthy rivers dot many towns on the coast. Pacific City is no exception to this rule, and the Nestucca is a gem of a river. Offering fishing, kayaking, and swimming, there are nearly endless opportunities here.
We recommend renting a paddleboard or kayak and exploring some of the dramatic scenery that the Nestucca has to offer. Just like many other rivers on the Oregon Coast, you’ll be met with many different kinds of terrain and scenery as you explore up and down the river.
Cruise the Beach in your Car
The beaches in the Pacific City area are some of the few in Oregon where vehicles are allowed. In the town of Pacific City itself, many people will park their cars along the beach and enjoy the views from the comfort of their car.
There is, however, beach access further north, which allows a little bit more freedom in terms of where you can drive and how much space there is.
Remember that not all cars are capable of driving on the beach-4WD or AWD are strongly recommended, and you may find yourself in some sticky (well, mostly sandy) situations if your vehicle isn’t equipped for beach driving.
7. Tillamook Bay, Oregon (The “Cheesiest” Oregon Coast Town)
Located on Tillamook Bay, the product of more than a half dozen major rivers and tributaries, Tillamook is a unique town when it comes to adventuring and scenery. It is probably best known by most Oregon locals as home to the Tillamook Cheese Factory, but it offers so much more than just that.
Here are a few of the most rewarding things to do in at this Oregon coast town:
Go Crabbing and Fish for Salmon on Tillamook Bay
If you haven’t guessed it yet, it’s probably becoming pretty obvious: the Oregon Coast is well-known for its many productive fisheries, and fishing-related activities constitute a lot of the local economies and tourist adventures along the coastline.
Tillamook Bay is a shining example of a great fishery, and it’s a great spot to check out.
Boat rentals are available, but if you want a more relaxed experience, book a fishing guide. Chinook and coho salmon are available in the bay, depending on the time of year, and crabbing can be excellent here as well. If all goes to plan, you’ll leave with enough fresh fish and crab to feed an army.
Hike in Cape Lookout State Park
Great hiking trails and even better ocean views are all things you’ll be rewarded with in Cape Lookout State Park. Just south of Tillamook, it offers serene views up and down the coast, and the trails in the park are relatively short and easy. This is a great place to stop by for a picnic and explore some shorter trails that’ll reward you with fantastic views of the Pacific Ocean and the Oregon Coast.
If you’re in Tillamook and are interested in hiking with some great scenery as a backdrop, Cape Lookout State Park isn’t one to miss.
8. Brookings Beach, Oregon
Brookings has somewhat of a mysterious quality to it, at least to the majority of the population in Oregon. Because it’s so far from Portland (and most other major cities in Oregon, for that matter), it doesn’t get discussed very often, and most Portland locals you ask probably won’t know much about the town.
Located right near the border of Oregon and California, Brookings is an absolute gem, and shouldn’t be overlooked by any adventurer serious about exploring all that the Oregon Coast has to offer.
Brookings offers unique scenery and generally warmer temperatures than some of the coastal towns further north, and there’s plenty to do here.
Here are a few of our favorite adventures at this Oregon coast town:
Hike and Relax at Chetco Point Park
An oceanside park offering trails, picnic tables, and scenic ocean views, Chetco Point Park is one of our favorite adventuring opportunities in Brookings. A scenic point and some picnic tables complete this park, making it one of the best places to stop by and enjoy all that Brookings has to offer.
The trails in the park aren’t very long, but they are a blast to explore. It’s always a pleasure to revel in the southern Oregon Coast scenery and Chetco Point Park is one of the best places to do just that.
Mountain Bike the Harris Beach Trail
Harris Beach State Park is one of the most popular attractions in Brookings, and for good reason. From ocean views and picnic areas to mountain bike trails, it offers just about anything anyone could possibly want from the Oregon Coast. We’d recommend taking the mountain bikes out to the park, where you’ll find a lesser-known but still stunning mountain bike trail.
It’s hard to beat riding trails with Oregon Coast scenery as your backdrop.
Catch Trophy-Sized Chinook Salmon on Chetco Bay
Want to catch some of the biggest chinook “king” salmon on the planet? You can do just that in Chetco Bay, which contains some of the biggest king salmon in the world (outside of Alaska).
Most of the fish returning to the Chetco are 5-year old fish, which is extremely rare to see in any other river in Oregon.
Chinook in excess of 50 and 60 pounds have been caught here in recent years, and no matter who you are, catching a massive, delicious salmon is always a treat.
If you’re interested in catching the biggest salmon in Oregon while basking in some incredible coastal scenery, the Chetco Bay may be just the adventure for you.
RELATED: 17 Breathtaking Oregon Coast Hikes
9. Seaside Beach, Oregon
Though a gorgeous Oregon beach town, Seaside has somewhat of a mixed reputation. Its wide, sweeping beaches are uncharacteristic of the Oregon Coast, and the general lack of dramatic scenery in comparison to the rest of the coast can put some people off.
Additionally, the town is quite touristy and glitzy, which is also quite different than most other towns on the Oregon Coast. That being said, Seaside can be a paradise for the right person and is definitely a look at another side of the coast.
There are plenty of outdoor adventures to embark on near Seaside, so whether you love or hate the town, you won’t be disappointed by the number of outdoor opportunities in the area.
Here are some of our favorite adventures to do at this Oregon coast town:
Kayak the Necanicum River
It’s pretty much a guarantee that some of the best beaches in Oregon will offer some form of kayaking. Seaside is no exception to this rule, and the Necanicum River, flowing directly into the ocean, has some great kayaking and paddle boarding opportunities. There are multiple places in town to rent kayaks or paddleboards, and it’s one of the best adventures within city limits.
If you’re able, the stretch of river on the beach is particularly stunning – just make sure your kayak renter allows you to go to that reach of the river.
Hike the Tillamook Head Trail
Offering views of one of the most splendid lighthouses on the Oregon Coast, the Tillamook Head Trail is a must for anyone visiting Seaside.
It’s wedged right in between Seaside and Cannon Beach, and is a great option for hikers coming from either location.
At just over six miles round trip, it isn’t going to be the most difficult day hike, but you can count on at least a few hours to enjoy all the scenery and comfortably complete the trail.
10. Manzanita Beach, Oregon
One of the lesser-known Oregon Coast towns, Manzanita offers some fabulous scenery in an idyllic setting. It’s less frequented than Cannon Beach to the north, and can be a great place to go for adventurers seeking solitude. Manzanita is located in close proximity to Oswald West State Park as well as Nehalem bay, both hubs for adventures of all kinds.
If you’re looking for an underrated and beautiful town on the Oregon Coast, Manzanita just may be the perfect choice for you.
Here are a few of the many adventures that we’d recommend in this Oregon coast town:
Kayak and Camp at Nehalem Bay
Making its way directly into the Pacific Ocean, Nehalem Bay is more reminiscent of a river than a bay. Fairly narrow (as far as bays go, that is) and quite shallow throughout most of its entirety, Nehalem is one of our favorite bays on the coast to camp and kayak on. It isn’t very rough and offers plenty of access and opportunities, and it’s just a quick drive south from Manzanita.
Nehalem Bay State Park is at the center of it all, offering trails, areas to camp, and access points for kayakers. No matter what you’re interested in doing, you’ll probably find it here.
Hike to Cape Falcon
One of the most popular trails in the area, Cape Falcon is a 4.6-mile hike that is truly a stunner. A waterfall halfway through the hike and a meadow with a view at the end make this one of our absolute favorite hikes on the Oregon Coast.
If you’re particularly interested in exploring, there are some additional branching trails once you’ve reached the end of the official trail. These will take you in different directions along the coastline, offering opportunities to get to unique viewpoints and explore some of the interesting caves to the north.
11. Lincoln City Beach, Oregon
A well-known destination for beach-goers from Portland and Salem, Lincoln City is gorgeous and offers plenty of options when it comes to outdoor recreation. Devil’s Lake, situated to the north, and Siletz Bay, just a bit further south, provide opportunities for endless fun on the water.
The scenic beach coupled with the natural features in the area make Lincoln City a favorite for many Oregonians, and it’s certainly worth checking on your next trip out to the Oregon Coast.
Here are some of our favorite adventures at this Oregon coast town:
Kayak Siletz Bay
One of the most drop-dead gorgeous bays on the entire Oregon Coast, Siletz Bay isn’t one to miss. Fishing is popular here and further upriver, but kayaking is our number one choice when it comes to adventures on Siletz Bay. An expansive beach and some oceanfront restaurants complete the overall aesthetic, and you won’t get tired of things to look at while you’re paddling.
There’s a lone spot near the east end of the bay where you’ll be able to rent kayaks or boats to enjoy your day out on the water.
Camp at Devil’s Lake
Not to be confused with the Devil’s Lake located near Bend in central Oregon, Devil’s Lake in Lincoln City is an excellent spot to camp. From hiking to fishing and kayaking, there are plenty of things to do in and around this scenic lake. It’s located very close to downtown Lincoln City, so a quick stop for some grub or drink won’t be too far away.
It’s no surprise that Oregon’s coastal towns are considered some of the most spectacular in the country.
Intriguing cultural and food scenes along with the limitless supply of outdoor adventures are what make the Oregon Coast so special. It’s a paradise for outdoor adventure lovers, and you’ll likely not see some of the same scenery anywhere else.
If you’re planning an extended trip out to the Oregon Coast or are just trying to find a new beach for the weekend, the towns listed here provide the absolute best adventure opportunities and scenery that the dramatic Oregon Coast has to offer. Explore a beach or three, and have fun doing it!
If you need more help planning your trip here, our Oregon coast road trip post will help you do exactly that. We have sample itineraries and maps for you to steal too! And these are our favorite Oregon coast hikes too.