The central Oregon coast is like no other place in the US. The rugged shoreline and seaside forests covered in a light blanket of fog is a view that should be seen at least once in a lifetime. Between Florence Oregon and Lincoln City, there are approximately 75 miles of coastline that is sure to give you the quintessential Oregon coast experience.
From exploring fishing villages, hiking, or spending a relaxing day flying a kite at the beach, there is a little something for everyone. If you are considering the RV trip of a lifetime in your travel trailer or motorhome to the central Oregon coast, here are some tips on must be seen and where to call home.
What to See
Here are just a few of the locations along the central Oregon coast. There are more, but these are the things you absolutely need to see.
Sea Lion Caves
Located 11 miles north of Florence is America’s largest sea cave. Local sea lions frequently inhabit this privately owned wildlife preserve and bird sanctuary. After paying admission fees at the roadside gift shop, take an elevator down to the massive cave to get an up-close look at the sea lions in their natural habitat.
Note, sea lions aren’t always in the cave, and refunds are not offered if the sea lions are out for the day. We were lucky when we visited in mid-April and saw over 200 sea lions! While the smell in the cave can be a bit overwhelming, it is worth the cool experience.
Grab a bag of freshly popped popcorn in the gift shop and use it as a shield for your nose against the powerful stench :). Spend some time watching the waves from the coastal walkways that offer unobstructed views of the sea. You might get extra lucky and not only see the sea lions but catch a glimpse of a migrating whale too!
Heceta Head is home to a lighthouse on the Oregon coast, is 13 miles north of Florence, and 13 miles south of Yachats. It is just north of the Sea Lion Cave, so you can make a day out of visiting both.
There are several trails leading to the lighthouse, so something for every skill level. The lighthouse and its natural surroundings are picturesque, and it won’t take long to understood why it’s the most photographed lighthouse in the state!
Bring your beach bag and relax at Cape Cove Beach on the south side of Heceta Head after your hike. This rocky beach is a great place to watch sea birds and explore tide pools.
Cape Perpetua is a large forested headland projecting into the ocean and is located about 25 miles south of Newport, OR. The cape offers miles of trails to explore along the coast and through the forest. The visitors center is a great place to start and figure out where you’d like to spend your time.
Make sure to check out Thor’s Well. This “sinkhole” in the rock, to the sea, is a one-of-a-kind natural phenomenon that shouldn’t be missed. Go at high tide to see the water crashing up through the hole or go at low tide to walk out and get an up-close look at the Well.
Another must do at Cape Perpetua is to take the drive, or hike, up to Cape Perpetua overlook. The overlook towers 800 feet over the sea and offers some of the best views on the Oregon coast. On a clear day, you can see over 70 miles up and down the coast and 40 miles into the Pacific! A short hike to Stone Shelter will offer the best, breathtaking views north and south.
Crabbing & Clamming at Port of Newport
If you want an authentic Oregonian coastal experience, pick up an Oregon shellfish license, rent some gear, and go crabbing and clamming!
The Port of Newport public fishing pier located on the south side of the Yaquina Bay, below the Bay Bridge, is an ideal place to meet your shellfishing needs. Plus, it offers a spectacular view of the bay and Newport! Go at low tide as that’s the only time clams are accessible, and the best time for catching Dungeness and red rock crabs.
Yaquina Head is a headland extending into the Pacific Ocean north of Newport, Oregon. It is protected by the Bureau of Land Management and is home to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, Cobble Beach, and a plethora of sea birds, harbor seals, and sea creatures.
If you have a National Parks Pass, it’s good for free admission! After a trip to the visitor’s center, head up to the lighthouse for a beautiful, and windy, experience.
Possibly even more impressive than the lighthouse is Cobble Beach. This unique, sandless beach is covered in smooth, black cobblestone. Go when the tide is high to hear the one-of-a-kind sound made by the waves rushing over the cobblestones. Go again at low tide to explore some of the best tide pools on the coast. Have your cameras (or phones) ready and keep an eye out for harbor seals and nesting seabirds!
Devils Punch Bowl
Possibly the most unique place to visit on the Oregon coast is Devils Punch Bowl. The Punch Bowl is a large bowl naturally carved in a rocky headland which is partially open to the Pacific Ocean and is located about five miles south of Depoe Bay.
Waves enter the bowl and often violently churn, swirl, and foam. While you can get a cool look from above at high tide, try visiting at low tide when you’re able to go inside Devils Punch Bowl.
The best way in is by walking south from Otter Crest Beach. The walk over the exposed rock into the Punch Bowl can be slippery, but the end result is absolutely beautiful. Otter Crest Beach has a unique landscape of rock and seagrass when the tide is out, as well as a small waterfall.
Where to Stay
If any of the things to see above have you itching to hit the road, then here are a few places you can stay!
South Jetty RV & Camping Resort
This park is located on the south end of town in Florence, OR, and is a great place to call home while you explore the central Oregon coast.
The campground is located just two miles from the beach when you’re looking for a great place to relax when not out sightseeing. Amenities at the park include an outdoor swimming pool, hot tub, tennis courts, activity lodge, natural trails, and laundry room. South Jetty RV & Camping Resort offers roomy sites with full hookups, picnic tables, and firepit.
Whalers Rest RV & Camping Resort
You won’t get your rig much closer to the beach than you will at this campground in Newport, OR. Simply walk 150 yards, and your toes are in the sand!T Whalers Rest is centrally located to all the must see’s on the central Oregon coast.
Back at the park, you’ll be able to enjoy amenities such as an indoor swimming pool hot tub, a minigolf course, two lodges, a playground, and much more. Sites are full hookup and leave plenty of space between you and your neighbor.
No matter what time of year it is, it is a wonderful time to visit the central Oregon coast. The natural beauty is unparalleled, and the quaint fishing villages are each one of a kind. Now is the perfect time to load up the RV, head west, and discover the heart of the Pacific Northwest.
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