12 Top-Rated Beaches on the Oregon Coast

Written by Brad Lane

While all beaches on the Oregon coast share similar characteristics, including access to the ocean and stunning sunsets, no two beaches are the same. From popular tourist spots like Cannon Beach up north to the massive sea stacks that define places like Arizona Beach farther south, each stretch of beach on the Oregon coast offers its own unique attractions and slice of paradise to explore. Surfing, tide pooling, swimming, fishing, and sandcastle building can all be experienced on Oregon's beaches, as well as wildlife spotting, picnics, cape climbing, dog walking, and simply spreading a towel down to enjoy the ocean breeze.

Oregon's beaches offer access to many unique things to do and appealing places to visit. Beach maps can be picked up at any visitor center and most state parks, and while it can seem overwhelming to choose which beach to visit, they won't leave you disappointed with your decision. Pack a lunch and don't forget the sunscreen. Perhaps bring a kite if the wind is up, and don't hesitate to bring the whole family because the entire Oregon coast, also known as the People's Coast, is accessible and welcoming for all ages. Explore the best places to visit by the sea with our list of the top-rated beaches on the Oregon Coast.

1. Cannon Beach

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

If you only have time in your life to experience the Oregon coast once, Cannon Beach delivers on nearly everything that makes this scenic side of the world so special. Both the name of the popular coastal city and miles of sandy beach accessed from its backdoor, Cannon Beach's star feature is the towering Haystack Rock, a top-rated tourist attraction of the Oregon coast. It was created by ancient lava flow and millions of years of tectonic plate movement. Simply standing in the presence of this 235-foot basalt sea stack makes for a unique beach experience.

A popular spot for first-time tourists and long-term visitors alike, the city of Cannon Beach has a full array of art galleries, restaurants, and community events, which cater to all vacation tastes. Upscale places like the Surfsand Resort and The Ocean Lodge in Cannon Beach offer an unbeatable overnight experience, and other oceanfront hotels like the Tolovana Inn and Land's End at Cannon Beach offer more value and the same great views.

2. Cape Kiwanda State Scenic Area Editor's Pick

Whale spout in front of Haystack Rock at the Cape Kiwanda State Scenic Area

Whale spout in front of Haystack Rock at the Cape Kiwanda State Scenic Area | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The southernmost cape to visit on the Three Capes Scenic Route, Cape Kiwanda is the only major headland on the Oregon coast comprised of sandstone. This gives the promontory a different complexion compared to the rest of the capes along the coast and provides many unique things to do. Alongside sand dune climbing, headland hiking, and paragliding from the top, the beach area on the southern cove of Cape Kiwanda, adjacent to Pacific City, is nothing short of a spectacular place to see and visit.

Accessible via a gentle path from the parking area, the beach south of Cape Kiwanda is great for tide pooling, surfing, whale watching, and watching the sunset behind Pacific City's own offshore Haystack Rock. Perhaps most notable about this stunning beach is that it is the only place on the Oregon coast where flat-bottomed dory boats can access the water from the shore. Sunsets are undeniably a popular time at Cape Kiwanda, and oceanside restaurants in Pacific City provide a great place to sit and enjoy the show.

Location: Pacific City, Oregon

Official site: https://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=parkPage.dsp_parkPage&parkId=130

3. Nye Beach

Nye Beach shoreline, Newport

Nye Beach shoreline, Newport | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Easily accessed from Newport, Nye Beach has been enticing tourists for more than a century. What has attracted visitors throughout that time is still on display today with stunning ocean views and an artistic community. Beach access is easy at Historic Nye Beach, as are all the sand-and-surf activities associated with it. After combing the sand and enjoying the sun, the 12-block long mixed business district adjoining Nye Beach appeals to all members of the family. Shopping, dining, and especially art galleries can be found with an easy stroll along the sand-strewn sidewalks, and with top resorts like the Agate Beach Motel and Hallmark Resort, it's easy to extend any vacation.

Location: Newport, Oregon

4. Secret Beach

Secret Beach

Secret Beach | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

While the clandestine nature of Secret Beach is debatable, the awe-inspiring surroundings of this pocket beach are undeniably stunning. Located within the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor on the southern coast, Secret Beach can be accessed via a small gravel parking lot off the 101 (just south of mile marker 345), and a somewhat steep three-quarter-mile trail. Immediately upon making it down to the beach, visitors are greeted by the terminus of Miller Creek as it cascades into a waterfall before hitting the ocean. It's recommended to check out Secret Beach at low tide, when visitors can cross an intertidal area to access their own personal cove and perhaps the true secret beach.

Location: Brookings, Oregon

5. Seaside Beach

Sand soccer at Seaside Beach

Sand soccer at Seaside Beach | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

On the far northern coast, the city of Seaside and its corresponding beach has a long history as a resort destination. The big ocean views and proximity to Portland draw visitors throughout the year, and key cultural attractions like the Seaside Promenade and the Seaside Aquarium have kept families coming back for generations. Popular activities on the beach include surfing, suntanning, and spectating (or participating) in the largest annual sand volleyball tournament on the coast. Other activities and attractions surrounding the beach include headland hiking trails, scenic golf courses, and a bountiful collection of seafood restaurants and local shops. One of the highest rated hotels in the area, Lanai at the Cove, is a great place to enjoy an extended escape on the Oregon coast.

Location: Seaside, Oregon

6. Arizona Beach

Arizona Beach

Arizona Beach | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Despite its close location to the 101 on the southern coast, exploring Arizona Beach allows you to feel like you've taken a big step away from civilization. The first half of this .66-mile beach gradually enters a landscape defined by onshore and offshore sea stacks, some the size of a small apartment complex. It's almost disorientating surrounded by so much rock and water, but as you keep heading south, the remote feeling of this beach settles in nicely. At the far southern end of the beach, only accessible at low tide, the up-close view of three monolithic "sister" rock formations are worth getting the tide right.

Location: Port Orford, Oregon

7. Hobbit Beach

The trail leading to Hobbit Beach

The trail leading to Hobbit Beach | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Hobbit Beach is a small pocket beach found on the northern edge of Heceta Head on the northern coast. A part of what makes Hobbit Beach popular and fun to explore is the trail leading down from the 101 to the sand. Throughout the moderate-to-easy half-mile trail, little "hobbit holes" can be found dispersed throughout the thick salal shrubbery that lines the path. Closer to the beach, what can best be described as seashell decor welcomes your arrival to the shore. Another part of the popularity of this stretch of coast is the remote feel of the beach, as well as the trailhead it shares with the Heceta Head Lighthouse trail.

Location: Florence, Oregon

8. Lone Ranch Beach

Lone Ranch Beach

Lone Ranch Beach | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Four miles north of the city of Brookings and marking the southern end of the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor, Lone Ranch Beach is an easily accessible shoreline with a variety of natural features to explore. A short and gently graded asphalt trail leads down to the beach and picnic area, passing by four picnic tables overlooking the entire ocean scene. Come low tide, the crescent-shaped beach reveals a variety of easily accessible tide pools, which the whole family can explore. To the north of the beach and visibly present most days, the grassy Cape Ferrelo beckons in the coastal breeze, enticing visitors to take a short walk to the top of the prominent headland.

Location: Brookings, Oregon

9. Short Sand Beach

Short Sand Beach

Short Sand Beach

Situated between Arch Cape and Neahkahnie Mountain within Oswald West State Park, Short Sand Beach is a great tucked-away getaway with fewer crowds. Day-use only and accessed via a half-mile walk from the parking area off the 101, Short Sand Beach is popular with surfers, photographers, sunbathers, and families looking to use the elevated picnic space that overlooks the ocean. Surrounded by two prominent headlands, Short Sand Beach and the extending Smugglers Cove feel wild and remote, even with potable water and restrooms nearby. For extra recreational options, hiking trails head both north and south from Short Sand Beach up and over the challenging headlands.

Location: Oswald West State Park, Arch Cape, Oregon

10. Arcadia Beach State Recreation Area

Waterfall at Arcadia Beach

Waterfall at Arcadia Beach | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Stretching for a mile between two rocky outcroppings on the northern Oregon coast, Arcadia Beach is a less-busy alternative to the nearby Cannon Beach. This is a great spot for family exploring. A few of the defining features of Arcadia include a fanned waterfall and beach cave, as well as tide pools at either of the two rocky points. For a full day of ocean activity, beach walkers can catch the right tide to round Humbug Point at the northern end of the state recreation area and reach Haystack Rock and Cannon Beach with less than five miles of travel. To the south, Oswald West State Park is also a feasible day hike.

Location: Arch Cape, Oregon

11. Rockaway Beach

Driftwood fort on Rockaway Beach

Driftwood fort on Rockaway Beach | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

With more than seven miles of sandy shore abutting the city of Rockaway Beach and nearly 20 different public access points, this beach offers plenty of space to explore on your own. Ambitious walkers can head north on the beach to meet the South Jetty of Nehalem Bay, and southbound walkers aren't too far from Barview and the rest of Tillamook Bay. A great place to stay to maximize your beach time at Rockaway Beach is the Surfside Resort right on the ocean's edge. Alongside great views and easy beach access, the Surfside Resort provides upscale accommodations at a reasonable price.

Location: Rockaway Beach, Oregon

12. Gleneden Beach

Gleneden Beach

Gleneden Beach | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Split between the welcoming communities of Lincoln City to the north and Depoe Bay to the south, Gleneden Beach is a state recreation area known for seal sightings and high ocean bluffs. While this beach can be found in a well visited part of the Oregon coast, the state recreation area is minimally developed with only a path leading to the beach and a small picnic area with restrooms. This minimal beach development makes Gleneden a great space to get away. A great extension to a Gleneden Beach experience is a stay at the nearby Salishan Spa and Golf Resort, with an 18-hole course, ocean views, and rooms that encourage guests to stay awhile.

Location: Gleneden Beach, Oregon

Official site: https://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=parkPage.dsp_parkPage&parkId=159

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