: Arcadia Beach (Photo by Larry Andreasen)

Less-Crowded Beaches on the Oregon Coast

August 25, 2021

Everyone who visits the Oregon Coast has a favorite beach. For some, it’s where they built sandcastles with generations of family. For others, it’s where they spied an epic sunset on a cool February Friday or where they first encountered a sea star.

Whatever the reason, we all have a special attraction to the Coast that keeps us coming back for more — the next day trip, the next sunset or the next close encounter. Here are some of our favorite less-crowded beaches to keep that sense of discovery (and tradition) alive.

Sitka Sedge State Natural Area (Photo by Oregon Parks & Recreation)

North Coast

The North Coast sees its fair share of visitors, thanks to a slew of family attractions and easy access from the Portland area, but solitude nevertheless abounds — if you know where to look. Just keep in mind: Wherever you go on the Oregon Coast, a good rule of thumb is to never turn your back on the ocean; riptides and sneaker waves can occur at any time, so keep an eye out for dangerous conditions if in (or near) the water. 

Sandstone Bluffs and Haystack Rock Views

You don’t have to go far from Cannon Beach to find seclusion at Arcadia Beach State Recreation Site, just a five-minute drive south of town. A small parking area, with room for just 20 or so cars, caps capacity at the quiet wayside — and those who make it in can picnic under windblown Sitka spruce trees, admire Arcadia’s sandstone bluffs, explore the area’s tide pools and even spy the iconic Haystack Rock to the north. (Know that it’s illegal to park on Highway 101, so if there’s no parking when you arrive, find a Plan B.)

Footpath to a Secluded Beach

It’s easy to see why Manhattan Beach State Recreation Site is perhaps the best-kept secret on the North Coast: Inaccessible from Highway 101, the secluded stretch of shoreline can only be reached by leaving the busy thoroughfare, following the entry road through a tunnel of shore pine and (finally) reaching the coast via a short footpath. Those who seek out the site are rewarded with a few picnic tables and a small yet spacious section of sand.

Marshlands and Forested Dunes

Even though it’s just 10 minutes north of Pacific City, the sleepy Sitka Sedge State Natural Area — one of Oregon’s newest state-park sites — retains an air of off-the-beaten-path charm with quiet tidal flats, marshlands, riparian forests, dunes and dramatic beach views that stretch from (the Coast’s other) Haystack Rock in the south to Cape Lookout in the north.

Beachside State Recreation Site (Photo by Oregon Parks & Recreation)

Central Coast

From the cities of Lincoln City and Newport to attractions like Cape Perpetua, the Central Coast is awash in family fun. Nestled between these lively outposts are hidden gems that show off dramatic sunsets, colorful agates and prime whale-watching opportunities. They’re all worth visiting whenever your schedule allows, but aim for a midweek trip to enjoy an extra dose of solitude (even at the height of summer).

Sunsets and Whale Watching

The stretch of shoreline at Lost Creek State Recreation Site might only be 10 minutes south of Newport — but with a small parking lot and just a few vault toilets, it feels farther than the drive might indicate. A gently sloping path leads past picnic tables and toward the shore, where visitors can watch the sunset, hunt for agates, or keep an eye out for migrating whales in winter and spring.

Coastline Camping and Picnicking

Just south of Waldport, Beachside State Recreation Site might not boast the most creative name — but what it lacks in panache, the wayside and campground make up for with picnic areas, nearly 75 campsites, two yurts, and a sandy stretch of beach that’s perfect for flying a kite, tossing a Frisbee or cozying up with a good book.

Tide Pools and Agate Hunting

A small parking area prevents Stonefield Beach State Recreation Site from overcrowding — so you’ll have plenty of room to explore the pocket-size shoreline where Tenmile Creek drains into the Pacific Ocean. Tide pools enchant beachgoers of all ages, and agates are somewhat common after storms.

Otter Point State Recreation Site (Photo by Larry Andreasen)

South Coast

It’s an old adage in Oregon: The farther south you travel on the Coast, the fewer crowds you’ll encounter on its beaches. The South Coast packs a lot of natural wonder into its famously craggy shoreline — towering forests, windswept sand dunes and otherworldly rock formations. See it all from these quiet beaches.

Sandy Trails Without Crowds

Just north of Gold Beach, Otter Point State Recreation Site has plenty going for it: several hiking and walking trails that offer a dash of solitude, photogenic sandstone rock formations, sweeping viewpoints and easy access to soft, sandy beaches. The one thing Otter Point doesn’t have? Crowds.

Driftwood in Paradise

At the northern edge of Port Orford sits the secluded Paradise Point State Recreation Site, set a few miles west of busy Highway 101. A small parking area sits next to a beautiful beach where floats and agates routinely wash ashore. Several driftwood logs invite visitors to linger and enjoy a scenic sunset.

Creeks and Marine Life

The shoreline at Arizona Beach State Recreation Site might only measure two-thirds of a mile, but the quiet park’s lack of crowds makes it an ideal home to a wide variety of wildlife. A pair of creeks flow through Arizona Beach, occasionally attracting elk and waterfowl, and sea stars, sea anemones and other marine species can be found in its rocky tide pools.

About The

Matt Wastradowski
Matt Wastradowski is a travel and outdoors writer living in Portland, Oregon. He’s written about the outdoors, craft beer, history, and more for the likes of Outside, the REI Co-op Journal, Willamette Week, 1859, and Northwest Travel & Life.

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