×

15 Top-Rated Beaches on the Oregon Coast

Written by Brad Lane
Updated Jul 13, 2022

We may earn a commission from affiliate links ()

All beaches on the Oregon coast share similar characteristics. These connections include smoldering sunsets, universal public access, and a wild sense of wanderlust at the edge of the continent. But make no mistake, no two beaches on the Oregon Coast are the same. From popular-for-a-reason tourist spots to remote beaches dotted with sea stacks, every stretch of the Oregon coast offers its own unique attractions and a slice of paradise.

Surfing, tide pooling, swimming, fishing, and sandcastle building are near everyday activities on Oregon's beaches. Other popular means of enjoyment include wildlife spotting, picnics, cape climbing, dog walking, and simply spreading a towel down to enjoy the ocean breeze.

Many of Oregon's best beaches share a shoreline next to the best small towns on the Oregon coast. This proximity is no coincidence. And the combination of sand and surf with seafood dining and hotels nearby offers the perfect recipe for beach vacations across the coast.

Don't forget the sunscreen and 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 open to the public 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.

Cannon Beach is both the name of the popular coastal city and the miles of sandy beach accessed from its backdoor. The coastline's star feature is the towering Haystack Rock – one of the top attractions on the coast. Ancient lava flow and eons of tectonic plate movement created this eye-catching rock formation. And simply standing in the presence of this 235-foot basalt sea stack makes for a unique beach experience.

Expect to meet an abundance of beachgoers on any sunny day throughout the summer. But with a wide expanse of sandy beach, there's plenty of room for everyone to spread out their things. Everyday activities include suntanning, long beach walks, and Frisbee throwing.

Starfish in a tide pool at Cannon Beach
Starfish in a tide pool at Cannon Beach | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The city of Cannon Beach is a popular spot for first-time tourists and long-term visitors alike. An array of art galleries, restaurants, and community events line the streets, catering to all vacation tastes.

Upscale places like the Surfsand Resort and The Ocean Lodge in Cannon Beach offer an unbeatable overnight experience. Other oceanfront hotels like the Tolovana Inn and Land's End at Cannon Beach offer more value and great views.

2. Cape Kiwanda State Scenic Area

Cape Kiwanda
Cape Kiwanda | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Cape Kiwanda is the southernmost cape to visit on the Three Capes Scenic Route and 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 a unique range of things to do.

Climbing the sandstone cape is a must-do experience on the coast. Most hikers make their way back down via the massive sand dune on the southern side, while some intrepid explorers choose to paraglide from the top. The cape offers a dramatic view of the ocean, as well as ample tide pooling opportunity at its base.

Cape Kiwanda State Scenic Area
Cape Kiwanda State Scenic Area | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

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. It's accessible via a gentle path from a parking area. Perhaps most notable about this stunning beach is that it is the only place on the Oregon coast where flat-bottomed dory boats access the water from the shore.

The wide beach is also popular for tide pooling, surfing, whale watching, and admiring Pacific City's own offshore Haystack Rock. 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

3. Nye Beach

Nye Beach
Nye Beach | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Nye Beach has enticed tourists to the central Oregon coast 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. And today, the beach and its corresponding historic neighborhood are iconic attractions of Newport.

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 are with an easy stroll along the sand-strewn sidewalks.

Top resorts in the area like the Agate Beach Motel and Hallmark Resort make it easy and affordable to extend a vacation.

4. Secret Beach

Secret Beach
Secret Beach | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

While the clandestine nature of Secret Beach is debatable, this pocket beach's awe-inspiring surroundings are undeniably stunning. The beach is within the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor on the southern coast.

Secret Beach is accessible 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.

After crossing Miller Creek onto the sand, the view-obstructing sea stacks and vertical sea walls add to a sense of mystery that lends credence to its name. 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.

5. Seaside Beach

Sand soccer at Seaside Beach
Sand soccer at Seaside Beach | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

On the far northern coast, Seaside and its corresponding beach have a long history as a coastal 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. The beach here can accommodate thousands, leaving plenty of room to spread out some towels.

Other activities and attractions surrounding the sand 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.

6. Fort Stevens State Park

Peter Iredale Shipwreck, Fort Stevens State Park
Peter Iredale Shipwreck, Fort Stevens State Park

Fort Stevens State Park encompasses the far northwest tip of Oregon, where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean. This region has long served as a place of human habitation, and the park today sits on 4,300 acres of what used to be a military installation. This history is clearly on display, with several concrete batteries and an on-site Military Museum.

But it's not just its military history that attracts people to this popular park. Recreation activities are even more abundant throughout Fort Stevens, including access to miles of sandy beach. The beach at Fort Stevens is over five miles long, with several access points. A few standout features of the beach include the Columbia River South Jetty Observation Tower and the Peter Iredale Shipwreck.

Hiking, bicycling, and photography are also popular at Fort Stevens State Park. It's also home to the largest campground on the coast, with nearly 500 RV sites split between electric-only and full hookup sites. Yurts, deluxe cabins, and a few tent sites are also available.

7. 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 visitors to take a big step back 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 small apartment complexes.

It's almost disorientating surrounded by so much rock and water, but upon heading further 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 is worth getting the tide right.

Arizona Beach is accessible with a short drive south of Port Orford on the southern Oregon coast. Parking is available at Arizona Beach State Recreation Site.

8. Lone Ranch Beach

Lone Ranch Beach
Lone Ranch Beach | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Lone Ranch Beach is four miles north of Brookings and marks the southern end of the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor.

A short and gently graded asphalt trail leads down to the beach and picnic area, passing by picnic tables overlooking the entire ocean scene. Come low tide, the crescent-shaped beach reveals a variety of easily accessible tide pools that are fun for the whole family to explore.

To the north of the beach and visibly present on clear days, the grassy Cape Ferrelo beckons in the coastal breeze. Visitors can take a short walk to the top of the prominent headland from the picnic area.

9. Roads End State Recreation Site

Roads End State Recreation Site
Roads End State Recreation Site | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Roads End encompasses the northernmost neighborhood and coastline of Lincoln City on the central Oregon coast. It's a beautiful part of the coast and a beautiful beach, with often less crowded and windy conditions than other spots in Lincoln City. It's also home to a dynamic landscape, with sea caves, tide pools, and a secret beach.

Beach walking is one of the most popular activities at Roads End. The view is worthy both ways, but heading north only increases in beauty with each step. Sailboarders also tend to flock to the shores. On the far northern end of Roads End is where to find the most remote landscapes, as well as further exploration when the tide is low.

10. Short Sand Beach

Short Sand Beach
Short Sand Beach

Short Sand Beach is situated between Arch Cape and Neahkahnie Mountain within Oswald West State Park. It's a great tucked-away getaway with fewer crowds. The beach is day-use only and accessible 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. And thanks to the surrounding 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 north and south from Short Sand Beach up and over the challenging headlands. The encompassing state park also features several hiking trails that navigate an inland temperate coastal rainforest.

Location: Oswald West State Park, Arch Cape, Oregon

11. 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 Arcadia's defining features 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, visitors can walk to Humbug Point in Arcadia Beach from Cannon Beach. This long beach walk is approximately a six-mile round trip. The entire route can be done on the beach, but hikers will need to time the tide right to round Humbug Point. South of Arcadia Beach, Oswald West State Park is also within day-hiking distance.

Location: Arch Cape, Oregon

12. Rockaway Beach

Driftwood fort on Rockaway Beach
Driftwood fort on Rockaway Beach | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Rockaway Beach offers plenty of space with more than seven miles of sandy shore and nearly 20 different public access points. Perhaps that's why this low-key destination on the coast is popular for those looking to avoid a crowded beach.

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. For those looking to stay put, the beach is also popular for sun tanning, kite flying, and building driftwood log forts.

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.

13. 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" are throughout the thick salal shrubbery lining the path. Closer to the beach, what can best be described as seashell decor welcomes 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. This uphill trail leads up to the lighthouse and lighthouse keepers' residence, with spectacular views of the ocean. Both routes are part of the state-spanning Oregon Coast Trail.

14. 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 is 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. This is a popular spot to enjoy an uncrowded beach (unless you count the numerous seabirds that also like the sand.)

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.

15. Harris Beach

Harris Beach
Harris Beach | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Harris Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Southern Oregon. It's less than 10 miles north of the California border and is easily accessible thanks to the state park surrounding its shores. Visitors can either take a short hike down to the sand or park a car right next to the beach.

The most immediately eye-catching part of Harris Beach is the giant sea stacks jutting from the surf. These photogenic rock features are an excellent addition to a long beach walk, with new vantage points every hundred yards or so. Other popular activities include beachcombing and keeping an eye out for marine wildlife.

Harris Beach State Park is an excellent destination for an Oregon Coast road trip. The park lends unbeatable access to the Southern Oregon coastline, including the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor only a few miles north. Harris Beach also has camping available.

More Related Articles on PlanetWare.com

imageWhere to Stay on the Oregon Coast: For ideas on where to base yourself or suggestions on where to camp or even where to book a room, see our articles on the best campgrounds and our list of the best beach resorts on the Oregon Coast.

imageExploring Portland: All of the top sights in Portland are easily accessible from the northern coast of Oregon, including many adventures that surround the area. Whether you are looking for a great day hike in Portland, perhaps a campground close to the city, or even a day trip or weekend getaway, our articles can help you explore more.

Discover destinations, find outdoor adventures, follow the journeys of our travel writers around the world, and be inspired.

More on Oregon