We can all use a little Bandon action. Ocean beaches? Check. Watersports? Check. Forests and fresh air? The natural wealth surrounding this relaxed river and beachfront burg (pop. 3,200) swirls rich in pulse-raising, calorie-zapping fun — all of it in convenient reach from the amenities and creature comforts available in Bandon itself. Here’s how to make it your basecamp for three days of thrills.
Day 1 — Beach hikes and seafood
Warm up with a morning jog down the beach, the best place to get your Bandon bearings. Easily accessed by several trails and a wooden staircase from Face Rock Scenic Viewpoint, the beach is home to several dramatic rock formations, including Face Rock, Table Rock and Elephant Rock.
At low tide, the intertidal zone here exposes sea stars, crabs and anemones, and at Coquille Point you can follow a paved trail over the headlands for a bird’s eye view of the rocks and sea stacks, which are home to scores of marine life. Remember to watch for sneaker waves, use caution when climbing on driftwood and practice tide pool etiquette when exploring.
Another low-tide attraction is Circles in the Sand, the elaborate walking labyrinths that local artists Denny Dyke and Christine Moehring rake onto the flat beach below Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint. Check their website for dates and draw times, and Oregon Moment of Zen video for inspiration.
When hunger calls, maintain your marine vibe with a hearty lunchtime feast at Tony’s Crab Shack. Here you can enjoy fresh, local seafood amid a lively atmosphere with fellow diners feasting on fish and chips, Dungeness crab sandwiches, crab cakes and clam chowder.
Since you’re already in hiking mode, spend the afternoon on the other side of the Coquille River exploring the numerous trails in Bullards Beach State Park, with hikes ranging from easy to difficult. At the beach’s south tip, the historic Coquille River Lighthouse is staffed from mid-May through September.
Once back on the Coquille’s south side, pop into the Stillwagon Distillery tasting room, where you can sample rum and vodka made in nearby Charleston. The tasting room is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so check times before visiting.
After dinner at Broken Anchor Bar & Grill, settle into your room with a view in the freshly renovated, blufftop Bandon Inn, where upstairs rooms overlook Bandon’s Old Town, the marina, the river and the ocean. It’s a perfect spot to watch the sunset and cozy up to the sounds of the sea. The inn’s continental breakfast includes homemade cranberry bread. Pets are welcome in some rooms.
Day 2 — Bikes and a pint
After checking the tide chart, launch your second day again on the low-tide beach, this time atop a fat bike that will you let you cruise along the shore for a thrill that’s tough to top. Choose a segment of the Bandon Fat Bike Beach Ride, a 19-mile route that cruises along the wind-blown Bandon Dunes and past the jetty at the Coquille River to China Creek Beach, with more sea stacks, pillars and arches in your sights than you can count. Rent your fat bike from South Coast Bicycles or Pineapple Express Adventure Rides & Shuttle Service and arrange a shuttle for a return trip after riding one way (downwind).
If trail riding is more your style, the Whiskey Run Trails are a forested 11-mile network of new singletrack specifically designed for mountain bikes. Located in the Coos County Forest and suitable for all levels and abilities, this stacked loop system travels through varying ages of active timber harvesting lands as it winds through gullies and drainages and atop ridges.
Once you’ve arrived back in Bandon, belly up to the granite bar and sip a cup of drinking chocolate at Coastal Mist, the cutest little chocolate boutique you may ever see. Also enticing are a full line of artisanal chocolates, European-style desserts, cakes, pastries, breads, salads and gourmet sandwiches for lunch. Everything is made from scratch.
Enjoy the friendliness at the family-run Inn at Old Town, just two blocks from Bandon’s beautiful boardwalk; some units have in-room hot tubs.
To cap another great day, look no further than Bandon Brewing Company, a stone’s throw from the Inn, near the entrance to the charming Old Town district in the historic McNair Building. In its lively dining and bar area, reward and replenish yourself with tasty wood-fired pizza and pints of craft beer at the Oregon Coast’s newest brewpub.
Day 3 — Paddling and cheese
Start your day with an espresso and a lox bagel from Bandon Coffee Cafe to fuel your morning paddle.
Kayaking in Bandon is something that can be enjoyed year-round, no matter what level you’re at. The Bandon Marsh and Coquille River estuary seem custom-built for stand-up paddling and kayaking. Call South Coast Tours to book a 5-mile, 2-hour paddle. Single and tandem kayaks are available.
Afterward, pop in for a comfort food lunch at Face Rock Creamery, which, along with its award-winning cheeses, serves yummy sandwiches, sliders, soup, paninis and gourmet mac and cheese.
End your rejuvenating day on the water just south of town on 30-acre, trout-stocked Bradley Lake; its south shore features a public boat ramp. New River, which runs north and parallel to the ocean for nine miles, is reached from the Bureau of Land Management Storm Ranch area, about 10 miles south of Bandon.