Let's go fly a kite — or build a sand castle! Oregon's wide open beaches are the perfect places for kite flying and constructing sand art. In fact, there is a perfect beach for just about every summer adventure. Here are some helpful tips on what you need for a fun-filled day with the family near Florence — and the best beach for you!

Kite Flying on the Beach

Best Beach for Kite Flying

North Jetty

The North Jetty is easily accessible from Historic Old Town Florence and connects to the long white sands of Heceta Beach. But what makes the North Jetty best for kite flying? Well the wind, of course! Strong gusts off the ocean can help hoist your kite high as you run. Most days on the Oregon Coast, and from most beaches, conditions are great for kite flying — but when we asked the experts at the Wind Drift Kites shop in Florence, the North Jetty was their favorite and most reliable site for soaring high.

Kite-flying tip: Bring patience for unsnarling kite strings, as they will inevitably have a tangle or two, and be especially mindful of other people on the beach (nobody wants to be smacked with a kite).  And hold onto your hat!

Sand Master Park Circles in the Sand

Sand Master Park Circles in the Sand

Best Beach for Sand Castles

Heceta Beach

The miles of perfect and flat beach sand at Heceta Beach behind Driftwood Shores (this is a different beach than the beach below Heceta Head Lighthouse) make it a favorite for continued kite flying from the North Jetty, beach sports, and an ideal canvas for inspired sand art. Whether it is a kid-built sandcastle or a professional sand sculpture, this beach was made for creation. Sand artist Denny Dyke, of the famed "Circles in the Sand" art drawings, has chosen this Florence beach to showcase temporary masterpieces multiple times. Lon Beale, owner of the nearby Sand Master Park, has periodically offered sand sculpting clinics for those enthusiasts ready to take their beach castles to the next level.

Reserve a beach-going wheelchair to roll out across Heceta Beach! David's Chair offers wheelchair access to this beach with advanced reservations through their website.

Sandcastle tip: Bring a bucket and sand shovel. And then take pictures of your completed monument for posterity, because it will be gone with the next tide!

Reserve a beach-going wheelchair on Heceta Beach in Florence, OR! A track chair facilitates beach and ocean access for individuals who use a…

Dune Buggy Ride by Turell
: Turell Group

Dune buggy ride

Best Beach for Dune Buggies

Jessie M. Honeyman State Park

This day-use area and campground back up to the Oregon Dunes making it an excellent access point for dune buggy riding and sandboarding. The Jessie M. Honeyman State Park offers yurts as well as campsites. During daylight hours expect to hear the roar of the buggies cruising the sand mountains. Even if you aren't out on a ride, it is a thrill to watch them tackle the slopes. 

Dune buggy tip: There are several dune buggy tour companies within the vicinity. Choose "wild" or "mild" for the sandrail experience that is right for you.

Cleawox Lake by Taylor Higgins
: Taylor Higgins

Cleawox Lake at Honeyman State Park

Best Beach for Swimming

Cleawox Beach at Jessie M. Honeyman State Park

The Pacific Ocean along the Oregon coastline is not known as a swimming destination due to waves, strong currents and cold water. At most, people may walk barefoot along the shoreline, wading and splashing when the waves are small. However, if getting in is your goal, then the coastal Cleawox Lake offers a real chance for in-the-water recreation. Here sandy beaches border calm water and there is even a roped swim area with a floating dock (no lifeguards). Rent paddle boats to cruise around when the concessionaire is operating. Seasonal facilities on-site offer restrooms, picnic areas and an indoor lobby. A day pass is required.

Swim tip: Bring extra warm, dry clothes; and in lieu of showers, refill old water bottles and dump water on your feet before getting back in the car to remove the excess sand.

Best Beach for Storm Watching

Heceta Beach

Storm watching can mean gazing into a thick blanket of fog, obliterating your view; or it can be an awesome show of gigantic waves hurling themselves at the coastal cliffs and beaches. With wind roaring and rain coming down, storms on the coast can be very exciting — and cold, wet and unpredictable. For this reason, we recommend Heceta Beach because you can appreciate the crashing waves from the ocean view comfort of Driftwood Shores Resort. With every room looking out across the beach to the Pacific Ocean, you stay dry and cozy while enjoying the whole show. Always stay off the rocks, off and away from logs and debris that could roll or blow unexpectedly. After a storm, while beach combing, please use caution when coming across discoveries.

Storm Watching tip: The deli at Driftwood Shores has floor to ceiling windows, perfect for storm watching while enjoying a bowl of clam chowder, a hot toddy or a cup of tea.

Best Beach for Horseback Riding

Baker Beach

Ride through grassy dunes onto Baker Beach for the classic beach ride. C&M Stables is just across Highway 101 and offers guided horseback rides in the morning and at sunset. Their family-owned stable has clean, healthy horses that are gentle and lovingly cared for. With great horse trail access, miles of serene shoreline and a fine nearby ranch — Baker Beach is perfect for your bucket list ride.

Beach ride tip: Participants on beach rides must be at least 8 years old. Only wear a hat with a chin strap, as the ocean wind may otherwise carry it away!

A girl takes an iphone photo of the coastline through trees.
: Melanie Ryan Griffin

Taking Photos at Heceta Head Lighthouse

Most Scenic Beach for Instagram

Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint

Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint is an iconic photo opportunity. The sheer beauty of this beach, surrounded by coastal cliffs and crowned with a hundred-year-old plus lighthouse is staggering. Add in the shady creek that flows under a historic bridge, into the ocean below; the wildflowers edging the white sand beach; the forest walk to the former assistant lighthouse keeper's home — now a charming B&B rumored to be benevolently haunted — and the grassy overlook ringing the lighthouse with viewfinders for whale watching... and you've got a million Instagram-worthy photos.

Photography tip: Try unique and varied angles. Hike up the trail above the lighthouse to look down on the scene, hike along the creek under the bridge to look back at the cove, and park at a pull-out on the highway across from the lighthouse for a prize shot.

Best Beach Campground

Carl G. Washburne State Park

The Carl G. Washburne State Park is both a day-use park and a campground. Its beautiful woodsy area opens up to gorgeous coastline with sandy beaches. Expect a short hike from the campsites. The beach rewards you with scenic views, miles of sand and a great spot for beachcombing or stormwatching. Jessie M. Honeyman Campground is a runner-up for beach campgrounds, adjacent to the sand dunes and close to town.

Camping tip: Buy your firewood locally so as not to accidentally bring in non-native insects and critters.

A narrow sandy, dirt packed path with logs forming stairs is under a canopy of tree branches. The dark passage way has roots coming out of the embankments and the ground making for uneven terrain. Light spills from the end of the tree tunnel.
: Melanie Ryan Griffin

Best Hidden Beach

Hobbit Beach

While the beach is secluded, its secret is out. Hobbit Beach is an amazing, magical expanse of beach is discovered via a short, family-friendly trail through the thick coastal forest. Magical in appearance — thus the "hobbit" name — the dark woodsy path is strewn with moss and thickets. Step from the forest out onto the wide and bright beach for unfettered romps. Hobbit Beach is a great place for both children and dogs to run free, up and down the beach. But as always, please keep an eye on your children, and keep dogs under voice control. Bring chairs, beach toys and a picnic.

Hobbit Beach tip: Parking on the highway can be tricky. If it is too busy, come back another time. Use caution if you need to cross the highway – there is no crosswalk here. 

Sunset on the ocean by Jacob Pace
: Jacob Pace

Sunset on the Ocean

Best Place to Watch the Sunset

Muriel O. Ponsler Memorial State Scenic Viewpoint

On a small bluff off Highway 101, soak up the full panoramic sunset view at Muriel O. Ponsler Memorial State Scenic Viewpoint. The site offers a tiny parking lot and a small grassy area. Below is the beach, and to the north there is a small creek that trickles across the sand. From the wayside, there is gentle beach access. As the sun sinks into the Pacific Ocean, the colors of the sky and sea change, dance, and then become dark. Stars pop out above the inky ocean. There are many other amazing viewpoints along the coast, but with a few steps back to the car, this is an easy place for lingering at dusk to watch the sky

Sunset & stargazing tip: Muriel O. Ponsler is a popular, easy-to-access wayside that can get crowded quickly. Plan ahead if you want to nab a seat on the park bench or at a picnic table — or better yet come prepared with your own chairs, a blanket and a picnic.

Red sea star clings to a rock partly submerged in a tide pool.
: Melanie Ryan Griffin

Tide pool sea star

Best Beach for Tidepools

Strawberry Hill Wayside - Neptune State Scenic Viewpoint

Observe marine life in around the rocks and in the tide pools at Strawberry Hill Wayside. This beach changes with the tides, displaying an ever-new tapestry of nature. Collect agates and tiptoe among the tide pools, but please be mindful of sea life and avoid trampling or disturbing the creatures and plant life. Strawberry Hill is a magical place of exploration. Nearby Bob Creek Wayside is also a great spot for agates.

Beachcombing tip: Collecting agates is limited to one gallon per day with a maximum of three gallons in one year. Take home tide pool memories by snapping pictures and leave nature as you found it.

Best Beach with a Funny Story

Exploding Whale Memorial Park

Say what?! Come enjoy this beautiful shoreline park and take a selfie in front of the Exploding Whale Memorial Park sign. What is the story? Well, once upon a time in the early 70s, there was a deceased whale that washed up on the shore (not here exactly — but in Florence) and no one knew how to dispose of it. So they decided to dynamite it. The press and onlookers packed the beach... only to have giant pieces of blubber raining down on them.

The Siuslaw Pioneer Museum has an exhibit about the exploding whale which includes the original broadcast. The park features picnic tables and great views of the sand dunes on the other side of the Siuslaw River at the mouth of the ocean.

General tip:  Don't blow up whales.

Oregon Coastline View in Spring by Traci Williamson
: Traci Williamson

Oregon Beach Coastline

Best Beach for Long Walks

All Our Beaches!

The stretch of Oregon coastline near Florence features many long swaths of uncrowded, serene beaches just perfect for total immersion in nature. Slip your shoes off and walk, hand-in-hand with a loved one, with your dog, with your children, or in solo reflection across the sands. Please always let someone know where you are going, stay off rocks and logs, and watch for unexpected waves. Enjoy the ocean breezes, the salty air, the roar of the ocean and the cry of the gulls.

Beach tip: Dogs must be under voice control on state beaches. Please stay out of zones posted for seasonal closures to protect endangered species.

How to Road Trip to Florence Without a Car
: Melanie Ryan Griffin
May 31
Guides & Lists

How to Road Trip to Florence Without a Car

Get away to the Oregon Coast, only sixty miles west of Eugene. Even if you don't have a car, you can still make this journey out to Historic Old Town Florence and the coastal beaches…