Many visitors flock to the Oregon Coast to listen to the rhythm of the waves and feel the sand between their toes, two of many ways to relax and rejuvenate along Oregon’s 363 miles of shoreline. Kite flyers, however, seek out another aspect of the region’s spirit-lifting beauty: its boisterous and consistent wind. It’s great in the summer, but even better in fall, when many beach-goers go home and there are fewer people and cooler days.
Steve Lamb, a kite maker in Lincoln City — which considers itself to be the kite-flying capital of the Coast — champions the art of flying kites as a great way to reconnect with the physical environment of the Coast. “On the beaches of Oregon, it’s always windy, it seems,” he says approvingly. “If you have a kite, you can make use of that wind.”
While you can choose any open field to launch a kite into the sky, the Oregon Coast is arguably the best place in the state for the activity. The Pacific Ocean’s cool temperatures regularly drive high-pressure air toward the warmer, lower-pressure air that hovers over land, creating steady wind, especially right on the coast where land and sea meet.
“Flying a kite in the smooth, steady, gentle wind coming fresh off the ocean is a delight,” says Ronda Brewer, the official kite liaison for Lincoln City. Brewer also points to the “softly sloping, sandy beach” of her hometown as a crucial element for kites. Without any vertical obstacles — the kind that create friction-fueled turbulence like trees or buildings found farther inland — beaches like the ones in Lincoln City provide perfect conditions for launching and keeping a kite aloft.
Here’s how to enjoy kite-flying in the fall months and beyond on the Oregon Coast.
Coastal Kite Festivals
Lamb, who traces his appreciation for the activity back to flying 25-cent box kites as a boy in Medford, started the Lincoln City Fall Kite Festival in 1979. During the weekend’s lineup of events (which this year is held Oct. 1-2, 2022), the skies fill with elaborately designed geometric creations, fun-loving creatures of all sizes and brightly colored ribbon tails twirling overhead.
Festival-goers can watch demonstrations by featured kite-flying experts and enjoy performances by teams of fliers whose kite flying is choreographed to music. Linger to play some carnival games or take a kite-making workshop. These workshops are an open invitation to get connected with the artistic side of kite flying — creating your own magical shape or creature that is a colorful, airborne expression of yourself.
“A kite can be something that you identify with, an aspect of your identity that you’re expressing,” Lamb says.
While the festival is built around chances to watch the work of established kite fliers, spectators are also encouraged to get involved and fly a kite themselves. “You can put a kite on a wall as room decor, but that’s like a butterfly in a butterfly collection — they really come to life when they’re flying,” Lamb says.
Visitors to Lincoln City earlier in the year can also enjoy the annual Summer Kite Festival in June or journey up north just under 60 miles to Rockaway Beach, which holds the Rockaway Beach Kite Festival on various dates (this year on September 16-18, 2022) on its miles of wide beach with perfect breezes.
Where to Fly on the Coast
Anywhere you are on the coast will be near spots popular for kite-flying. Here are a handful of places to try, as well as some nearby stores to find everything you need to enjoy your day with the wind.
Brookings, at the southern point of Oregon’s coastline, makes it easy to find a place to fly your kite because it’s written into the name: The Kite Field at Port of Brookings Harbor is a flat beach popular among kite fliers.
Though the sea stacks off of Bandon’s shoreline can create some unpredictable gusts, they aren’t a problem two miles north of town at the wide and sandy Bullards Beach State Park, located at the mouth of the Coquille River. Don’t leave without walking to the picturesque Coquille River Lighthouse.
In the Coos Bay area, both Bastendorff Beach and Horsfall Beach are wide, level beaches with great wind. Both locations have campgrounds, perfect for turning the excursion into an overnight adventure.
Just outside of Reedsport, Umpqua Beach — the approach is marked as Umpqua Beach #3 Day Use/OHV Staging Area — is a popular spot where kite fliers of all experience levels can spread out to catch a breeze. The beach’s sand dunes are the tallest of those at Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, but make sure you stay on the beach with your kite, as the top of the dunes can bring high, unpredictable winds. Pro tip: Need a kite? Reedsport Pharmacy regularly carries a decent selection.
The fall kite festival in Lincoln City is held at the D River State Recreation Site’s 7 miles of windswept public beach. To find all kinds of kites and an assortment of kite accessories, stop into Winddriven, a Lincoln City mainstay for nearly 25 years.
In Newport, the place to find your kite is The Kite Company, where staff can help you choose as well as point you to local beaches good for flying. That list will undoubtedly include Agate Beach State Recreation Site, which is also popular for surfing, and Nye Beach, where visitors enjoy tide pools and a historic neighborhood filled with great eats and drinks.
Beaches at both the south jetty and north jetty in Florence are great for catching a smooth, steady wind — be sure to plan for enough time to explore the nearby sand dunes, too. Pick up a kite and other mementos in town at Wind Drift Kites during your visit.
The sandy shores of Pacific City and Cannon Beach have two things in common: They offer stellar views of Haystack Rock (fun fact: They each have their own Haystack Rock) and both areas have great breezes for launching a kite. If you’re a new flier, stop in to the Kite Factory in Cannon Beach for the perfect choice to test your skills.
The beaches of Cape Meares are also a pleasant spot to find consistent wind, plus you can tack on a trip to see the nearby lighthouse. If you left your kite at home, Tillamook Sporting Goods regularly stocks its shelves with new ones to try.
Seaside’s main beach stretches about 3.5 miles and is among the widest beaches on the Oregon Coast, meaning there is ample room for kite flying. Make sure you pair the activity with a walk along the city’s famous 1.5-mile oceanfront Promenade, which is more than 100 years old.
The Astoria/Warrenton area makes it easy to go fly a kite, see a historic shipwreck and hike a trail all in the same outing. Harness the wind’s power at Fort Stevens State Park while also exploring the iconic Peter Iredale shipwreck.
If You Go:
It’s never too late to learn how to fly a kite. Most beginner kite fliers will want to start with a “delta” (broad triangle) kite or diamond kite. Find a flat, open area with a good amount of distance from other people. While you’re experimenting with the best way to launch your kite and finding the right amount of tension to keep it airborne, make sure to watch out for waves and incoming tides, and stay safe during your beach visit. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll want to come back again and again.