Hikers, surfers, kayakers, cyclists and all kinds of water-beach-cliff adventure lovers will feel right at home in this sweet little destination, tucked in the crook of a rugged headland with the lively vibe of a working port town.
Battle Rock Park is the perfect starting point for exploring the area. Battle Rock itself is a narrow spine of rock disconnected from the shoreline that rises from the beach and stretches over 400 feet into the ocean. During low tides, walk to the top of the rock for an epic perspective on the town and sea. The rock was the site of a battle in 1851 when 9 white settlers were left ashore by a steamboat to establish a settlement. They attempted to sequester the land from the native Qua-to-mah band by taking refuge on the rock with a cannon and rusty muskets, and eventually fled.
You can spend hours roaming this area, picturing the millennia of waves crashing to carve and separate the basalt sea stacks from the shore. Sea caves, rock tunnels and tidepools make for a great day on the beach. Between Port Orford and Humbug Mountain to the south you’ll spy a grouping of offshore rocks that make up the Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve. This fertile habitat for marine life is one of five marine reserves in Oregon dedicated to conservation and scientific research and is off limits to fishing
You’ll Rarely See A Port Like This
Port Orford has one of the most unique fishing ports in the world due to its headland-protected natural harbor. Home to a small fishing fleet of about 30 boats, the port is actually built on the ocean, but no boats are moored in the water.
When setting off to fish, boats are lowered into the Pacific by a giant crane and are lifted from the water upon returning with their catch. Don’t miss watching the dolly dock in action and grab a beer and chowder at the local hangout Griff ’s on the Dock. Resident grey whales linger in the waters off the port, so keep your eyes peeled for spraying spouts.
Cape Blanco Lighthouse commands the westernmost point in Oregon. Check online for tour schedules and plan for a jaunt down the trail near the gate of the lighthouse road to visit the scenic beach and bluff of Cape Blanco State Park.
Hiking & History
Port Orford Heads State Park’s rugged headland juts into the Pacific, protecting small coves and the town’s natural harbor. Several short trails traverse thick Sitka spruce forest and overlook Nellies Cove. A viewpoint on the south side of the trail overlooks miles of ocean and the trail extends onto the headland to the northwest for a 180-degree panoramic view of rock-studded coastline. You can choose a quick and easy three-quarter mile trail out and back to the headland, or do the entire perimeter loop of 1.25 miles.
For maritime history buffs, the Lifeboat Station Museum, housed inside the historic station for the region, features exhibits on little-known WWII history. If you’re up for a trek, two great hikes begin within a 10-mile drive: the Humbug Mountain trail about six miles to the south, and Cape Blanco, about 10 miles to the north
Hit the Water
Kayaking, surfing, windsurfing, stand-up paddle boarding and kite boarding are all top notch activities in and around town. Floras Lake Windsurfing (about 14 miles north) offers rental gear and lessons. Stop in at Langlois Market just beyond Floras Lake for practically world famous hot dogs and homemade mustard, plus local artisan products.
For a truly epic day, head out on sea kayaks with South Coast Tours to paddle through the waters and rock tunnels of Port Orford Heads. Two of the best surf breaks on the southern Oregon coast sit just south of Port Orford: Battle Rock Park (for experienced surfers) and the Hubbard Creek breaks (for all levels), about a mile farther to the south. Scuba diving in the waters off the port offers easy access and exceptional visibility for exploring nearby coves and shipwrecks. The port houses a scuba fill station, restrooms and shower facilities.
Coastal Art & Farms
Home to painters, sculptors and weavers, tiny Port Orford boasts an impressive eleven galleries. A thriving local food and farm scene also makes for a fun inland wander on the South Coast Food Trail. Stop at The Port Orford Co-Op for fresh, sustainable seafood brought into port only blocks away. A bit further north off Highway 101, Dragonfly Farms has lovely plants in their magical nursery, or pick up fresh produce at the Valley Flora farmstand.
Wild Rivers Coast Scenic Bikeway
Ride for miles beside the nationally designated Wild and Scenic Elk River, explore colorful cranberry bogs, and gaze at towering sea stacks and vast ocean views on this 60-mile cycling tour. This route explores the most breathtaking natural areas around Port Orford and features different out and back options you can ride over a few days, or do the whole route in one day. Detailed GPS maps are available online or stop by the visitor center at Battle Rock Park for a map.
Wildspring Guest Habitat – Pacific views in a woodland habitat, outdoor spa
Cape Blanco State Park – pretty campground with
trails to beach & lighthouse
Redfish – luxury suite with amazing ocean views
Castaway by the Sea – pet-friendly historic, updated
motel with ocean views
Valley Flora Farm Stay – a lofted studio off a picture-perfect
Port Orford: Redfish – Craft cocktails & PNW bounty
with great views
Port Orford: Crazy Norwegian’s Fish & Chips – a
classic local favorite
Langlois: The Spoon – homemade biscuits, local jam,
Langlois: Langlois Market – famous hot dogs with
homemade mustard, plus specialty goods
Kayaking and fishing adventures in sea caves and rivers with South Coast Tours
Cast for salmon up the scenic Elk River with Wild Rivers Fishing guides