Beaches & Coves
Here in Oregon, we don’t call the beach the beach: we call it the Coast. But of all the wonderful things about our coast, the best is that all 363 miles are free and open to everyone. That’s why the Oregon Coast is one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon—along with other beautiful places, like the Wallowa Mountains to the east and Crater Lake to the south!
Explore landmarks big and small
While the sandy city beaches are popular with visitors, there is more diversity here than meets the eye. Along with the sunny days that bring surfing, tanning, and outdoor activities like fishing, the beach also provides great opportunities for bird-watching on marshy estuaries, tidepooling on rocky shores, or visiting lighthouses on coastal headlands.
The Oregon Coast’s plethora of hidden spots and places where you’ll find almost no one has always made its inhabitants big fans of the Coast. Along the shoreline, you’ll find beaches unknown to most tourists and even to many locals, providing an endless amount of amusement and watery repose. Some of these quiet places can even take on an eerie quality—if that’s your jam, check out our list of spooky places at the Coast and plan your own ghost tour!
Many isolated, secretive beaches are actually coves—small, sheltered bays, usually with a narrow, restricted entrance. In fact, that’s why they remain secret: they’re tucked away between rocky structures that form a kind of semicircle of a beach. Often they hide the most amazing features of any of the beaches along Oregon’s coastline.
Find special spots
We don’t want to give away all the Coast’s hidden gems (after all, half the magic is seeking them out yourself!), but here are just a few favorites.
- Treasure Cove – Just north of Manzanita, near Oswald West State Park, you can score a great view of this hidden cove. Drive into the big gravel parking lot that comes up before the road descends into the park. You’ll see a sign for Short Sand Beach. Go past that sign and head west from the parking area, toward the cliffs that overlook Manzanita. You’ll pull up to a big green hill, which you can hike to get an amazing view: stare straight down the cliff face into a “chute” of rock, created by cliffs that formed tightly together in a square. Watch the waves crash through the chute, flowing into and out of a massive sea cave below you!
- Neskowin Ghost Forest – Not quite a secret, but certainly hidden most of the time, this “forest” is truly unique. At high tide, the beach at the edge of Neskowin is scenic, the view dotted with sea stacks and tide pools. But at low tide, you’ll catch a view of something special. Partially buried in the sand, 2,000-year-old tree trunks pepper the shoreline here: the vestiges of an ancient sitka spruce forest. A hundred or so “ghost” trees are visible when the tide rolls out. Wander through them, photograph them, or wait till the waterline recedes further to reveal the nearby island of Proposal Rock. Hike up the trail and access an amazing view of the ocean and the Ghost Forest below!
Any time you’re planning a trip to the shore—but perhaps especially when you’re going to remote or “hidden” spots—pay attention to the weather forecast, sunset time and the tide schedule to stay safe. And (as much as you may want to keep secret spots, you know, secret) always tell someone where you’re going!