The 12 Best Beaches in Oregon

Last Updated on November 13, 2022 by Helen E. White

Best Beaches in Oregon: The Oregon coast, dotted with cliffs, headlands and mountains, is of unparalleled beauty. Its wide beaches stretch for miles in either direction, and the sand falls so gently into the Pacific Ocean that it can be hard to tell where the beach begins and ends.

Best Beaches in Oregon

The natural spots that make Oregon so spectacular can captivate people from all over. But it’s the lack of development along the coast that has preserved Oregon’s best beaches and irresistible coastline. Travelers exploring Route One will find several charming little towns and villages where life takes place on the water and in the surrounding hills.

Thus, there is an excellent balance between local beaches easily accessible from the city and secluded paradises at the end of a remote path.

The 12 Best Beaches in Oregon

1. Canyon Beach

Canyon Beach

Known primarily for the impressive Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach is a photographer’s and beach lover’s dream. Standing seven meters tall, this amazing monolith is an impressive landmark that splits the ocean in two. It is surrounded by several smaller mounds with the endless waves of the Pacific.

You may have seen it in movies and TV shows before, but nothing prepares you for the scenery of Cannon Beach. It is part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge and beachgoers should keep an eye out for the resident puffins.

But as for the beach itself, its long expanse of golden sand seems endless. Despite its popularity, Cannon Beach is rarely crowded. Swimming near the shore is comfortable, with opportunities to surf further out.

2. Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area

Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area

Oregon’s many headlands are dwarfed by the sheer beauty of Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area. The most common solid cliffs on the Oregon coast are temporarily replaced by sandstone, allowing nature to better use its artistic abilities.

Cape Kiwanda has been shaped by wind, rain and ocean, creating delicate curves and grooves reminiscent of Antelope Canyon, a slot canyon in Arizona.

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From the top of the cape, you will have incredible views of the coast, from which you can venture down to the beach via a dune. From there, you can relax or enjoy one of the best beaches walks in the state.

3. Nye Beach

Nye Beach

In Newport, one of Oregon’s largest coastal cities, Nye’s Beach ticks all the boxes. It has the typical wide, open beaches that are so common in Oregon, along with easy access, sea stacks, picnic areas, and a great bathroom.

Nye Beach is a popular beach with the locals, who can be enjoyed a short walk from the eclectic local neighborhood of the same name. Bathers can lounge on the sand, play beach games or enjoy a picnic with a view.

To round out your stay in Nye Beach, discover why it has been attracting travelers for over 100 years. Behind the shore is a historic district with a high concentration of art galleries. Not to mention the myriad of good restaurants.

4. Rockaway Beach

Rockaway Beach

A stone’s throw west of Portland, Rockaway Beach is one of the easiest beaches to see from the state’s largest city. But those exploring the pristine West Coast could do worse than stop at this beautiful, wide beach.

With just under 20 access points along a whopping 11 kilometers of beach, it’s easy to find your quiet patch of sand. Along the beach, you will find a series of attractive structures made of driftwood, while kite surfers take advantage of the constant breeze.

Depending on where you are, you can enjoy a walk along the beach to Tillamook or Nehalem Bay.

5. Sea Beach

Sea Beach

As a vacation destination and as a beach, it’s hard to beat the vibe of Seaside Beach. The city is located just 90 minutes northwest of Portland and is a popular family destination as well as a hot spot for beach lovers looking for an affordable getaway.

Part of the draw is that Seaside’s beach is big enough for everyone, regardless of the crowds. Here you will have space to play beach soccer alongside the hordes of people getting their tans. It’s no wonder that Seaside Beach is home to the largest beach volleyball tournament on the West Coast.

This beach has all the necessary amenities, from toilets to showers, along with beachfront restaurants and the vibrant town of Seaside.

6. Indian Beach

Indian Beach

Within Ecola State Park, Indian Beach is beloved by surfers and is one of the filming locations for the movie Twilight. Many of the state park’s trails will guide you along the classic Oregon coast, where the bluffs rise above the ocean and spray like planes through a cloud.

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Indian Beach is a short drive from Portland, which means it’s easily accessible and very popular with locals. If you want to get a prime spot on the beach, we suggest you get there early. For beach walkers, the coastal trails are best complemented by a dip in the ocean and a walk along the cliffs before moving on.

When the swell rises, those on the sand can enjoy free entertainment as surfers seek to tame the mighty Pacific.

7. Short Sandy Beach

Short Sandy Beach

At Oswald West State Park, Short Sand Beach is a sight to behold. On calm days, the water is flat and sparkles in the sun. At both ends, the capes rise. At first, they are smooth rocks, but they quickly turn into towering green pines.

Due to its location within the state park, Short Sand Beach is usually free of crowds. It is a day-use beach, tucked away at the end of a short half-kilometer walk. It’s a fun place for the kids to roam, or relax under the umbrella with a book in hand.

Short Sand Beach can get some strong waves throughout the year. These days, surfers arrive early and surf until sunset.

8. Manzanita Beach

Manzanita Beach

Backed by a coastal city big enough to be a town, Manzanita Beach is the star of the show. It boasts a memorable 11 kilometers of sparkling white sand, so long it can often feel private. In addition, with 11 kilometers to play, you can enjoy magnificent walks along the beach at sunset.

The beach curves around the shoreline and reaches Nehalem Bay, State Park. Climb up the sandbank to discover a lush sanctuary waiting to be explored. One of the tours to complete is at the other end of town. It’s a hike to the top of Neahkahnie Mountain, from where you’ll have unbeatable views down to Manzanita Beach.

9. Arcadia Beach State Recreation Area

Arcadia Beach State Recreation Area

Located near arguably the best beach in Oregon, Arcadia Beach State Recreation Area is often overlooked. But if you have time to do both, you’ll find that Arcadia is a nice alternative to Cannon Beach, and for you, it may be even better.

Arcadia beach has golden sand, typical of the Oregon coast. But what helps separate it from the others (aside from its tranquility) is its waterfall. A walk along the beach will reveal this natural landmark, where thin veils of water fall on rocky outcrops.

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The beach-walking adventure continues as caves are discovered on the beach, while the northern and southern ends of Arcadia are two dots, both dotted with beautiful tide pools.

10. Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

The cliffs aren’t the only spectacular aspect of Oregon’s beaches. Although it has plenty of competition, it’s hard to argue that any beach is as stunning as those found in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Forget tanning on the white sand, here you can explore 40 miles of towering dunes, some of which rise as high as 500 feet.

Nestled between the Pacific and an inland forest, you will have an abundance of mesmerizing landscapes. You can get many spectacular views on foot, but there’s nothing better than the fun of riding in a buggy or shredding the dunes on your surfboard. From the beach, you can fish or explore the park’s 30 lakes by kayak.

11. Heceta Beach (Cape Cove)

Heceta Beach (Cape Cove)

A small hidden cove on the Oregon coast, Heceta Beach stretches 300 meters along the rugged coastline. Its ends may be Cape Creek and Heceta Head, but the crescent-shaped piles of beach rocks will keep your eyes firmly fixed on the ocean. Here you will find seagulls, cormorants and murids soaring above the waves. Cape Cove may be rugged, but its remote location allows for a peaceful experience in the midst of nature.

Back at the car park, swimmers will have access to picnic areas and also toilets. No beach stay would be complete without also exploring Heceta Head Lighthouse. The lighthouse stands proud on top of the head, more than 300 meters above the ocean. The trail to the 19th-century lighthouse is located in the car park.

12. Lone Ranch Beach

Lone Ranch Beach

At the southern end of the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor, Lone Ranch Beach effortlessly blends vibrant nature with a picture-perfect beach. From the parking lot, you’ll walk down a path to the shore, passing the picnic area on the way.

The rugged shoreline can be hard to appreciate at high tide, but when the water flows out, it reveals a series of alluring tide pools. Next to them are the marine reefs that rise like triangles in the Pacific Ocean. Spend the day taking in views of the coastline, including that of lush Cape Ferrelo.

At lunchtime, venture out to the picnic area with four tables and a beautiful view of the entire beach.

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