Coastal Destinations for Water Recreations

Surfing & Boogie Boarding
If you’re looking to ride a wave that’s totally radical, you’ll need a coastline that is smooth, sandy, and free of rocks or pebbles that could cut up your feet. You also need plenty of space to spread out and get a good running start. These beaches are in different towns, but they all have something special about them that keeps us cold-water enthusiasts coming back for more. Whether its yurts aplenty, a stunning view, or a mysterious destination, these spots have got it all. If you’re thinking about taking a dip, consider bringing a wetsuit and water shoes to retain a little bit of warmth; it may be summer, but the Oregon coast is still pretty chilly. 

Beverly Beach State Park: Lincoln County, OR
Beverly Beach is known for offering a variety of activities and their accessibility to those with disabilities. The beach is sandy and extends from Yaquina Head to the headlands of Otter Rock. While walking, you’ll see kites flapping, sand castles being built, amateur scientists searching for fossils, and plenty of surfers catching some waves at the north beach. There is also a campground nearby with yurts, tent sites, full hook-up campsites available to reserve, and a playground for the kiddos. Not to mention the Oregon Coast Aquarium is nearby along with several other attractions around the Yaquina Head area. 

Oswald West State Park: Cannon Beach, OR
Oswald West begins with a bridge that takes you over a creek and right to its sandy beaches. It seems only fitting that a park with such beautiful views, 2,500 acres worth in fact, was named after a governor who ensured that Oregon law would protect Oregon beaches for public use. The site started off as an official rest stop and is still designated as such. This makes it simple for visitors to utilize the parking and restroom facilities accessible directly from the highway, and there is no day-use fee associated with the park. Oswald could be just one stop on a fun road trip for you and your friends. Wear your wetsuits, bring some extra clothes, and you’ll be ready to just grab your boards and go.

Secret Beach & Thunder Rock Cove: Brookings, OR
This hidden gem is perfect for boogie boarding because according to That Oregon Life, only a few people visit this beach each year. This means plenty of space to make a fool of yourself, and if you fall, no one but your friends will see you. To reach the beach, you hike a trail that lies south of Spruce Island Viewpoint and north of Thunder Rock Cove. Be aware that there isn’t an official parking lot or designation for the beach so plan ahead for a little extra walking. Thunder Rock Cove is part of the Pacific Coast Trail so be prepared to get a little wild. Once there, you’re sure to see plenty of marine birds the average tourist would miss by not venturing off the beaten path. 

Whale Watching
Whale watching is a common activity year-round on the Oregon Coast. If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of a gray whale, it’s recommended to keep your eyes peeled while in your land, sea, or air vessel. It helps to bring binoculars for an even better view. Gray whales migrate south from their feeding grounds in Alaska to breeding grounds in Mexico in the winter. In the spring, most of the whales migrate back to Alaska. About 200 remain on the Oregon coast between June and November, just in time for summer whale watch week, the last week of August. 

Whale Watch Center:Depoe Bay, OR
The Depoe Bay Whale Watch Center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and knowledgeable staff are ready to answer all your questions about gray whales. They will help you spot them as they blow, dive, and breach. During the busiest weeks, thousands of gray whales swim past the center on the way to their migration endpoint in Mexico. Though there are less during the summer there are still 15 to 20 on average that have made their home on the Oregon coast. 

Devils Punch Bowl State Natural Area: Otter Rock, OR
Devils Punch Bowl definitely lives up to its name. It howls, roars, and the surf churns against a hollow rock formation shaped like a punch bowl, blending together a menacing mixture for visitors to witness. The punch bowl was most likely created by the waves themselves and provides a unique site for whale watching. There is even a picnic spot so you can pack a lunch and spot whales searching for their food source: amphipods and mysids. Be sure to stop by the tide pools afterwards, but check the tide charts first so you stay safe and don’t fall into the devil’s hands. 

Cook’s Chasm Turnout: Yachats, OR
Cook’s Chasm has a paved walkway that makes it easy to enjoy whale watching. What makes the site worthwhile is the small town that surrounds it. Before checking out Cook’s Chasm, drop by the Yachats Farmers Market on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for locally grown produce, delicious food, and artisan made crafts. Then swing by LeRoy’s Blue Whale where you’ll be sure to spot a whale – it’s just a mural but the idea is the same – and their pancakes are made from scratch daily. There are several scenic spots in Yachats besides the turnout, including Smelt Sands State Park and Thor’s Well, so you’ll have plenty to see while exploring. 

The Oregon coast and its rivers attract sailing enthusiasts of all experience levels. That said, sailing on the coast is not for the faint of heart, so make sure you know your boat, the weather conditions, and the tide schedule. We recommend checking out NauticEd’s sailing term glossary for terms used aboard the ship and phrases that have made their way into our everyday conversations. This way, even if you’re a beginner, you won’t sound like one.

Coos Bay, OR
Coos Bay is an ideal spot for longtime sailors and sailing enthusiasts. Coos Bay is the largest town on Oregon’s coast with approximately 16,000 people according to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau. The town is home to the Coos Bay Municipal Dock which offers free mooring for visiting sailors with a fee only if you dock overnight. There is also a nearby boardwalk, international port, and several other points of interest to check out downtown. 

Visiting sailors should be sure to stop in to the Coos Bay Yacht Club. The organization, formed in the late 1930s, is located on South Ten Mile Lake and often holds social events like sailing lessons. Sunset Bay State Park and Tugman State Park are just outside of town and are known for having good sailing conditions. 

Newport, OR
Newport has been historically known as a sailing town due to its location. Newport can be found where Yaquina Bay and the Yaquina River meet the Pacific, and is named after Newport, Rhode Island, another popular sailing town. In the downtown area known as the Bayfront district, you can find the U.S. Coast Guard Station as well as restaurants and plenty of shops. If you’re a fan of marine life and want to learn more about what you could spot on your sailing trip, check out the Oregon Coast Aquarium, the Oregon Coast history center, and Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Visitor Center for hands-on exhibits and plenty of knowledgeable experts. 

The Yaquina Bay and Yaquina Head lighthouses are extremely popular for sailing trips as well. Like the Coos Bay Yacht Club, the Yaquina Bay Yacht Club hosts social events, regattas, and sailing classes for all skill levels as well as putting on an annual Bridge to Bridge offshore race starting in Astoria and ending at the mouth of Yaquina Bay. The race takes place in August and is normally followed by a post-race celebration at Yacht Club facilities. 

Astoria, OR
Astoria is known as the oldest American settlement west of the Rockies. Lewis and Clark themselves stayed at nearby Fort Clatsop during their travels and now the town is home to numerous visitor attractions. Some attractions include the town’s riverfront walkway, the Columbia River Maritime Museum, Lightship Columbia, and the Astoria Column. 

The Astoria Column is 125 feet high and provides a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean, Youngs Bay, and the Columbia River, once you climb its winding staircase. The Astoria Yacht Club holds races and gatherings regularly near their building underneath the Old Youngs Bay Bridge. The Corinthian Yacht Club also keeps tourists coming to Astoria with their 193-mile Oregon Offshore International Yacht Race each May, which starts in Astoria and finishes up in Victoria, British Columbia. 

Windsurfing & Kitesurfing
Windsurfing combines elements of surfing and sailing. Kitesurfing is more akin to extreme sports with elements of paragliding and gymnastics. Needless to say, these two sports take plenty of skill, but are a lot of fun once you master them. You’ll need a nice open beach with lots of space and beautiful views to look down on from your spot high in the sky. 

Gleneden Beach State Recreation Site: Gleneden Beach, OR
Gleneden Beach is off Highway 101 south of Lincoln City. You can park at nearby Wayside Park if closer spots are not available. The beach is great for wind and kite surfing because the wind tends to blow early and continues blowing all day due to the south winds. For the less daring in your crew, there are plenty of picnicking spots so you can watch your flighty friends soar. You may spot some seals or sea lions while you’re watching, too. Along the horizon you’ll see Cascade Head and past that at the tip of the Salishan Spit is where you’ll find seals and sea lions taking a nap before they dive under the waves. 

South Jetty County Park:
Florence, OR

South Jetty County Park is a very popular spot for surfing of all kinds and adjacent to South Beach State Park. There are areas for fishing, clamming, and scuba diving when conditions permit and plenty of trails to hike as well. To reach the jetty, you hike up the dunes, which can be fairly steep. There’s a nearby forest you can explore at your own risk.

Floras Lake: Curry County, OR
Floras Lake is large for a dunes lake and great for windsurfing and kitesurfing due to the daily afternoon breezes. You can also check out Floras Lake Windsurfing & Kiteboarding for lessons, equipment rental, and more information on camping spots and the Floras Lake House B&B. A small area of sand is all that separates this lake from the ocean making this spot rather odd for those who know anything about geology. The nearby beach is also easy to reach by taking a short 6-mile hike – do not attempt at high tide. Canoers and kayakers are also welcome to float down the 8 to 9 mile stretch until they reach a landing area at either Storm Ranch or Lower Fourmile Road respectively.

By Madeline Frisk