I’ve walked the white sands along the western coast of Nicaragua. I’ve played on the warm, sunny beaches of the Southern California shoreline. And I’ve built sandcastles beside the turquoise waters of Key West. But my favorite beach remains on the wild, rugged Oregon Coast.
Sheltered by a cove blanketed with thick, wet forest and edged with volcanic basalt and sandstone cliffs is one of the most popular surfing destinations in Oregon. Nicknamed “Shorty’s” by locals, Short Sands beach at Oswald State Park is alive with activity on any weekend or summer day. But even in the winter, especially in the winter, I always know I can find at least one or two more dedicated water-seekers like myself aching for the perfect wave.
What’s equally beautiful and serene to me, and just as much part of the adventure, is the drive from Portland. The winding, twisting, turning road under a canopy of old growth forest with pockets of light illuminating the darkness soothes my anxiety-prone, wanderlusting soul. Only once I hit the coral-colored ribbon of Highway 101 can I finally breath. And only once I park, slip into my wetsuit and start walking can I feel my pulse intensify with every breath.
Like a scene out of Jurassic Park, the beach is just a half-mile walk through the woods. Weaving my way down the trail, Short Sands Creek flows through the trees like a ribbon of excitement, chasing me to its final destination. Strolling along the contours of the Creek, I always seem to find myself following the sound of crashing waves and the subtle taste of salt through a green tunnel lit with slivers of sunlight. I savor the scenery, the towering firs and the moss-covered logs that welcome me every step of the way.
The very first time I crossed the bridge and saw the ocean waves crashing into the desolate shoreline through the trees, I stopped dead in my tracks. Verdant, leafy green contrasted with the glittering blue of the ocean, I could see a handful of surfers floating, speckled across the horizon.
Soon I’d be one of them.
This vast, scenic treasure provides a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean and is without a doubt one of the most spectacular parks in Oregon.
Smugglers Cove remains protected from heavy weather, and the breaks are relatively consistent. If you’re coming to surf, stop by Cleanline Surf Shop in nearby Cannon Beach or Seaside for rentals and the surf forecast. If you don’t surf, the beach is still a beautiful place to spend an afternoon skimboarding, boogie boarding, flying kites, paddle boarding or if you’re not in for the cold-water rush, you could also go for a hike.
The popularity of the beach is especially apparent in the peak summer months. So if you’re looking for more solitude, try weekdays or winter months.
Shorty’s has something for everyone, you just have to get there to find it.