Beaches & Dunes
Discover sandy beaches all along the Oregon Coast, only one hour west of Eugene - Springfield. There is easy beach access at parks from Dunes City to Cape Perpetua with park facilities and convenient parking. Fishing, horseback riding, tidepooling and beachcombing are popular beach activities. Search for shells, crabs, and agates or view local shorebirds and seabirds. Oregon's dramatic sea cliffs offer many scenic vantage points, including a historic lighthouse.
The mountainous wind-sculpted dunes that hug the coastline in Dunes City and Florence invite exploration by all terrain vehicle (ATV) or dune buggy. The Oregon Coast is also home to the world's first sandboarding park. Embrace the Oregon Coast experience by staying overnight in a beach front hotel or camp at the dunes' edge. The Oregon Coast is also a magical destination for beach weddings!
Beaches in Oregon are publicly owned from the water to sixteen vertical feet above the low tide mark. To maximize tide pool exploration, reference local tidal charts and start several hours before low tide is at its peak. After low tide is reached, the water immediately starts its return journey back.
Feel free to poke around the water's edge to observe marine life - just be mindful of treading carefully to protect living organisms and be aware of the ocean at all times. Sneaker waves can come farther up and further in than expected. Observe all posted notices and stay back from cliffs and rough shore break.
Some of the best places to explore tide pools include the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area (Cape Cod Trail, Captain Cook Trail, Restless Water Trail and Saint Perpetua Trail) and Heceta Head Lighthouse Trail #1370. Neptune State Scenic Viewpoint offers three easy to access tide pools at Neptune, Strawberry Hill and Bob Creek.
Look for sea anemones, sea squirts, sea stars, urchins, crabs, barnacles, mussels, snails, limpets, chitons, octopus and fish. You may also see seaweed, kelp, gulls, oystercatchers, shorebirds and harbor seals. To see sea lions in the largest natural ocean cave in America, visit the Sea Lion Caves north of Florence.
The popular past-time of leisurely walking along the sandy Oregon shore in search of sea glass, agates, driftwood, baubles and other bounty churned up by the sea now includes potential somber discoveries as items washed away in Japan's 2011 tsunami drift ashore all along the Pacific Coast from Mexico to Alaska. Beachcombers are urged to use caution and show respect when encountering marine debris.
Assisting with beach clean-up is always appreciated. Litter like plastic bottles, buoys, Styrofoam, plastic bags, cans or other garbage can be collected and recycled or appropriately discarded. Documenting large beach deposits with photos, noting date and location, and forwarding to firstname.lastname@example.org is also helpful. If you encounter large debris or potentially hazardous materials like gas cans or oil drums, call the National Response Center at 800.424.8802. Do not touch them or attempt to remove them yourself.
As always, beachcombing is a peaceful and meditative experience punctuated by many delightful discoveries of nature's little treasures. Tread lightly, enjoy the experience, and please leave the beach just like you found it, or even better!
Highway 101 along the Oregon coastline is recognized as a National Scenic Byway for its natural beauty and convenient roadside parks and turnouts. Leisurely travel the stretch of highway from Dunes City to Cape Perpetua, stopping to enjoy the panoramic vistas. Some of the parks offer benches and picnic facilities. Popular activities include whale watching, marine wildlife observation and birding, as well as storm watching and sunsets!
Enjoy beautiful views from the Sea Lion Cave Turnout, Cook's Chasm Turnout, Neptune Beach State Scenic Viewpoint, Muriel O. Ponsler Memorial State Scenic Viewpoint, Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint (the most photographed site on the Oregon Coast) and the Cape Perpetua Interpretative Center.