An Adventurer’s Guide to Oregon: Summer Surfing

August 1, 2012 (Updated February 1, 2013)

Editor’s note: As of Feb. 12, 2020, Ecola State Park is closed until further notice south of Indian Beach Day Use Area due to recent landslides that damaged the park entrance road. For more information, visit Oregon State Parks.

If you are a surfer, you may not think of the Pacific Northwest as a destination that should be on your list of places to visit.  If you are not a surfer, but have always wanted to try, fifty-degree water and five-millimeter-thick wetsuits are often not the most enticing thing to want to try. But from Astoria to Bandon, there are amazing surf breaks set against the backdrop of Oregon’s coastline.  Whether you are a seasoned veteran or just trying to find your sea legs, the Oregon Coast has an empty wave waiting for you.

Otter Rock:  Rated by Outdoor Magazine as one of The Best North American Beginner Surf Spots, this break wedged between Depoe Bay and Newport offers some of the most consistent 2-to-4-foot surf in Oregon.  With the campsites at Beverly Beach State Park just two miles down the road, this surf spot was made for a beginners’ weekend at the the coast.

Pacific City:  Some of the best beer in Oregon awaits surfers just off the beach at the Pelican Pub. The pub has become a staple to the local surfing community, complete with the installation of a warm shower to wash off the salt water opposite the parking lot. Pacific City’s beach break can be very powerful, making it a challenging place for beginners. The atmosphere and the waves make for a very unique surfing locale.

Oswald West State Park: Also known as Short Sands, this surf spot is one of the Oregon Coast’s most beautiful locations.  Located 20 minutes down the road from Cannon Beach, this spot has a small beach break for beginners and some great waves for veterans. When the southwest swell pushes up against the north wall, the waves created can be some of the most fun to ride in all of Oregon.  A beautiful beach to spend the day, but watch out for crowds and prepare yourself for a short hike along the river on the way in.

Indian Beach: Located in what I would consider to be one of Oregon’s most beautiful coastal areas, Ecola State Park, this beach will cost $5 to park your car and is well worth the money just to watch the sunset. Often not the best beach for beginners because of strong currents and shifting sands, it is a great intermediate spot if you can avoid the crowds. Good waves in a variety of swells make Indian Beach a great destination on most occasions.

With a lot or a little experience, Oregon offers wonderful surfing on waves with few people.  If you can brave the cold water and want a unique surfing experience, try adding surfing to your Oregon travel plans.

Editor’s note: See more of Connor’s photography at and read about his travels at

About The

Connor O'Brien
Connor O’Brien is a Portland- based, second-generation photographer specializing in Adventure Sports, Outdoor Lifestyle and Assignment & Editorial Photography. Having lived in places as far reaching as Australia and as close to home as Massachusetts, Texas, Wisconsin and Minnesota, he has used the varying landscape and the people as inspiration in his photographs. Moving to Oregon many moons ago, Connor has been fortunate enough to experience some of the unspoiled beauties of the west with his camera in hand. Beginning his career as a freelance writer and photographer in Oregon, he continues to visually describe the landscape he visits throughout his work. Whether it be capturing new ascents on remote crags or following trails down lost canyons, his love and passion for the outdoors has led his photographic development to where it is today.