16 Stunning Natural Sights Along the Oregon Coast

Affiliate Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. There is no additional cost to you and it helps support our future adventures.

The Oregon coast contains some of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. With long sandy beaches, quaint harbors, steep cliffs, massive caves, and hundreds of sea stacks to explore along the coastline, there is so much natural wonder to see.

One of the best parts of the Oregon coast is it is for everyone. That means that there is no private property along the entire coast so you are free to explore it along its entire 362-mile length.

From the mighty Columbia River to the north all the way down to Brookings in the south, there are state parks, remote beaches, lighthouses, sea life, and outstanding beach combing opportunities that will make your visit to the Oregon Coast your most memorable vacation yet.

So pack your bags and hit the road as we explore 15 stunning natural sights along this incredible part of the state.

Haystack Rock (Cannon Beach)

Seagulls at Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock at the background
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach is one of the most recognizable natural features along the entire stretch of the Oregon Coast. And this isn’t just because of its convenient location to Portland that makes it so popular!

This 235-foot-tall sea stack rises majestically out of the Pacific Ocean, although at low tides, you can actually walk right up to the base. Last year, the rock gained international recognition when a mountain lion was spotted on it, presumably looking for a snack from the thousands of seabirds that call Haystack Rock home.

Cape Kiwanda (Pacific City)

Cape Kiwanda and Haystact Rock reflected the the wet sand on the beach at Pacific city on the Oregon coast.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Cape Kiwanda and nearby Pacific City are actually home to Oregon’s second sea stack named Haystack Rock! This area has so much more to see, though, with a massive sand dune that rises impressively from the end of Pacific City Beach.

Once you make it to the top of the dune, there are trails that take you out toward the end of the cape, where you can take in stunning views of the coast along with Haystack Rock. Watch for the famous dory boats that are launched directly from the beach into the pounding surf from Pacific City Beach.

Thor’s Well (Cape Perpetua)

Thor's Well in sunset, Oregon
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Thor’s Well is a unique natural wonder that seems to defy logic. This hole in the rocks looks as if it is swallowing the ocean although this is just an optical illusion as there are openings underground that allows the seawater to flow back out to the ocean.

The Well is a very popular photography spot, especially around sunset, although use caution as this natural feature is prone to sneaker waves and it has swallowed its fare share of photography equipment over the years.

Devils Punchbowl (Otter Rock)

Devil's Punch Bowl, Devils Punch Bowl State Natural Area, Oregon Coast. Oregon Coast runs north and south along the Pacific Ocean. The Oregon Coast is a region of the U.S. state of Oregon.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Like Thor’s Well before it, Devils Punchbowl is also a collapsed sea cave that can be explored during low tide and becomes a fury of swirling foamy ocean water at hightide and especially during the winter storms that blow in off of the Pacific Ocean.

The area around the cave offers excellent tide pooling opportunities, but check the tide tables before you go so you aren’t left stranded by an income tide!

Sea Lion Caves (Florence)

Sea Lion Caves - Florence Oregon USA
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Sea Lion Cave is the largest natural sea cave in the world at 125 feet high and over 300 feet long! This privately owned attraction outside of Florence is a must visit (just hold your nose!) to see this massive cave along with the incredible amount of sea lions that call the cave home.

There is an elevator that whisks visitors from the bluff above down into the depths of the cave. Note that the aroma inside the cave is…unforgettable, so be prepared for that!

Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor (Brookings)

Sunset at Natural Bridges along Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, Oregon during a golden hour sunset - sunbeams through trees with dense vegetation.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Located along the southernmost stretch of the Oregon Coast, the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor offers one of the best uninterrupted stretches of the coast to explore. With numerous hidden beaches, stunning overlooks, and a countless number of sea stacks this is an incredible place to spend a day.

Secret Beach is a must visit spot along this stretch for its waterfall and absolutely stunning views of the coastline. Arrive early though as parking is very limited which can be a hassle but is worth it once you get down to the beach and realize you’ll have it almost exclusively to yourself.

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area (Florence to Coos Bay)

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area , On the Oregon Coast
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is home to over 40 miles of sand dunes with some reaching over 500 feet high! This area is extremely popular with OHV’ers so some areas can be loud and extreme caution should be used, especially if you have small children, to ensure you’re not in their path as often their views are very limited when cresting over the dunes.

Luckily for those on foot, there are still plenty of places to get away and enjoy some solitude in this otherworldly area.

Octopus Tree (Oceanside)

Octopus Tree Trail, Oregon, USA
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Located on Cape Meares near the famous Cape Meares Lighthouse, the Octopus Tree is a natural oddity that you have to see to believe. This towering Sitka Spruce doesn’t have a main trunk but instead branches out and supports numerous trunks that resemble an upside-down octopus.

This tree isn’t the only natural wonder in the area though as the views up and down the coast from this cape overlooking nearby hidden beach and the beach town of Oceanside are some of the best on the entire coast.

God’s Thumb (Lincoln City)

A view from the trail leading to God's Thumb in Lincoln City, Oregon.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

God’s Thumb is a stunning but also confusing landmark just outside of Lincoln City. Access to this stunning natural feature has slowly shifted over the years between landowners, the local government, and the forest service, so do your due diligence on where to park and how to access the Thumb if you wish to make the trek.

Once you’re up on the bluff, though, the views are absolutely outstanding, although the trail out to the end of the Thumb is not for the faint of heart as the dirt can be loose and the drop-offs steep.

Yaquina Head Natural Area (Newport)

Yaquina Head Lighthouse with beautiful sunset
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Located on the northern edge of Newport, Yaquina Head Natural Area is home to a historic lighthouse, seabird colonies, secluded beaches, and even a beach known for its unique sound as its rocks roll up and down the beach with each incoming and outgoing wave.

With trails crisscrossing the natural area there are plenty of opportunities to set off on foot and explore all the hidden gems contained within this stunning area.

Cape Arago State Park (Coos Bay)

Scenic landscape of Cape Arago state park caught in fog.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Cape Arago State Park is an often overlooked natural area located just outside of the lumber town of Coos Bay. The rocky shores of this area offer up some of the best tide-pooling opportunities in the state and the log strewn beaches are a perfect place to explore without the crowds.

Make sure to stop by Simpson Reef viewpoint, where you can watch the sea lion colonies that call the offshore rocks home.

Humbug Mountain State Park (Port Orford)

Humbug Mountain State Park, Curry County, Oregon
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Humbug mountain is one of the highest points along the entire stretch of coast and there is a 5.5 mile round trip trail that will take you up to its 1,765-foot summit. The park also offers up a campground with sites for both tent and RV campers.

The park’s prominence above the ocean makes it a great spot to watch the migrating gray whales that pass by the Oregon coast each winter and spring or the resident whales that call this area home year-round.

Seal Rock State Recreation Site (Seal Rock)

Seal Rock State Park sand beach and volanic rock with birds flying against a blue sky on the central Oregon Pacific coast in autumn.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Seal Rock is tucked off to the side along a touristy stretch of Highway 101 between Newport and Waldport. This rock cuts off two long stretch of sandy beaches that are lined with numerous sea stacks and is a favorite hangout for the area’s resident seals and sea lions.

The large rock formation and sea stacks provide shelter from the incoming waves from the Pacific which makes it a great area to explore by kayak.

Ecola State Park (Cannon Beach)

Early foggy morning at the Bay at Ecola State Park near Canon Beach on the Oregon coast
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Ecola State Park offers up some of the most remote hiking opportunities on the Oregon Coast. Stretching from Cannon Beach on the south to Seaside to the north, this area is home to massive forests, incredible views of the coastline, hidden beaches, and views of the infamous Terribly Tilly lighthouse, which sits a mile offshore on a solitary rock.

Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint (Bandon)

view of the coastline in Bandon Oregon with face rock and wizard's hat with large sea stacks
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

This area near Bandon, Oregon, is named for the sea stack that sits offshore and resembles a face looking up out of the ocean. It is also the namesake for the nearby Face Rock Creamery, which produces some of the best cheese in the entire state (sorry, Tillamook!)

There are dozens of sea stacks that dot the water here with names like Wizard’s Hat, The Castle, Cathedral Rock, and, of course, Face Rock.

Depot Bay (Depot Bay)

Highway 101 bridge through Depot Bay on a beautiful clear day
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Depot Bay is both a small bay and the name of the town that surrounds it. This bay is infamous, though, for its incredibly small size while still being a navigable harbor. In fact, the bay is the smallest navigable harbor in the world, and watching boats pass through the narrow twisting channel that separates the bay from the Pacific Ocean is a sight to behold.

If you’re whale watching, make sure to stop by the Whale Watching Center, which has viewing platforms and staff who can assist you in spotting the massive marine mammals that pass through this beautiful area.

About the author
Derek Carlson
Pacific Northwest native, cross-country skier, hiker, mountain biker, wannabe fly fisherman, writer and owner of Roam the Northwest