Cannon Beach, Oregon

Oregon Coast: A Road Trip

After an evening in Seattle, the next part of our trip was somewhere I’d longed to visit for a while since living in Vancouver on the west coast. As they say, ‘west coast, best coast’, and the Oregon coast is living proof of that phrase. After a three hour drive from Seattle to the outskirts of Portland, Oregon in Hillsboro-Beaverton, we went straight to bed. We needed to be up bright and early for the most anticipated part of our road trip, a drive along the Oregon coast.

Beginning the Road Trip

Fall was a lovely time to take the drive along the Oregon coast. We passed pumpkin patches (and naturally, plenty of pot shops). We saw ombre trees with their leaves fast growing crisp and drifting to the ground. Ironically, we didn’t see any gas stations – so don’t make our mistake and make sure you fill up way before your drive.

There are 363 miles of Oregon coastline – all of which is free and public to this day. Along the Oregon coast, you can spot glass floats, crabs, and even watch for whales and puffins. It’s truly a beautiful part of the world.

We were treated to the occasional peek of incredible scenery along the drive to get to the Oregon coast from Portland. We also saw plenty trees, until we turned the corner of some winding roads. There, we’d see wispy clouds forming amongst the hills and greenery. It looked quite mysterious as we approached the coast.

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Our first port of call was beautiful Cannon Beach. It’s one of Oregon’s most well-known attractions. Whilst I was already expecting good things, it totally surpassed all my expectations.

Iconic Haystack Rock looms dramatically over the misty beach. Cannon Beach itself has been named one of the world’s 100 most beautiful places by National Geographic, and it’s easy to see why.

Formed millions of years ago by lava flows, Haystack Rock is one of Oregon’s most famous landmarks. If you’re a fan of The Goonies, it may look familiar to you! It’s home to puffins in the spring, various birds, and tidepools. Haystack Rock itself is accessible at low tide when you can go and spot seastars in the tidepools.

We soaked up the views over a picnic on the beach, and my mind soon turned to picking out my future house up on the banks of the sand dunes.

Cannon Beach is also home to a small and charming village by the sea. It’s easy to walk to from the beach, and there’s plenty to see and do. There are some art studios and galleries, where you can watch glassblowers at work. Enjoy some delicious Pacific Northwest cuisine in one of the many cafes and restaurants after a long beach walk.

One of my favourite things about the beach was the spooky mist floating about. The powerful tide comes in, soaking the jeans of visitors, and causing dogs to run to the shore. As the waves sink into the sand, the water is absorbed and lingers to create the eerie mist of the beach, and it’s quite breathtaking. I’ve never seen a beach like it before.

Neahkahnie Mountain, Oregon

Hopping back into the Jeep, we prepared for a slow ride down the scenic 101 of the Oregon coast. We planned to stop at any interesting viewpoints along the drive down. The drive in itself is just gorgeous – for long sections of the route, you drive along the ocean. We drove through Oswald West State Park, and along the Oregon Coast Highway to Mount Neahkahnie.

The views here are astonishing, and there are various viewpoints where you can stop off and enjoy the views. A few alarming signs we saw on the way were warning of tsunami evacuations. I’d never seen these signs before!

The water looking out from Neahkahnie Mountain literally sparkles in the sun. At 1,631 feet above sea level, you can expect incredible views like these over the Oregon coast. You can see towards Neahkahnie Beach and Manzanita, and it’s gorgeous.

We hopped back into the Jeep before cruising onto our next stop along the Oregon coast.

Manhattan Beach, Oregon

Spotting a pretty beach on the peeks we got across the coast on the drive down, we stopped at Manhattan Beach. Located in Tillamook County, it’s a beautiful beach for a walk.

We took a quick barefoot stroll across the vast sands of Manhattan Beach to break up all the sitting down of the drive.

It was a beautiful October day, and the sun shone down. Once again, the ocean evaporated from the sand to leave a layer of mist in the air. There was barely another person on the beach, and I love nothing more than a deserted beach.

Cape Lookout State Park, Oregon Coast

We got back to the car and continued on our roadtrip down the Oregon coast. Our next stop was the stunning Cape Lookout State Park. We parked up and snacked on the views at the eye-wateringly beautiful views. There’s no doubt in my mind I’ll be back here to camp one day.

Cape Lookout is located between Netarts Bay and the ocean, meaning you get both wonderful views and ocean. Here, you can go beachcombing and spot glass floats. There are over eight miles of hiking trails in the state park, which have incredible lookouts through the forest. Occasionally, whales have even been spotted from here.

The cool breeze nipped upon our necks, but we relished in the delight of paddling barefoot in October. Afterwards, we hit the 101 to see what we could find on the last leg of our Oregon coast tour.

Oregon’s terrain is bizarre. On our way to our last stop of Cape Kiwanda, we stumbled across fields of sand dunes. The dunes had tiny trees popping up in between, and we spotted people on dune buggies. Riding through the dunes on a sand buggy is definitely on my bucket list. It’s something I’ll be sure to use as an excuse to return to this beautiful part of the world.

Our entire roadtrip along the Oregon coast was like the front of a glossy travel brochure. There were also plenty of adorable houses and stretches of farmland along the way to our final destination. I couldn’t help but stare into the windows, imagining what the rural life of families living in this part of the world was like. This is all whilst they watched a flickering screen behind the net curtains. It felt like too soon that we reached our final stop of the road trip, Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City. I’d have loved to have seen a lot more. Next time, I’d consider taking the Oregon coast road trip across a couple of days to make more stops.

Cape Kiwanda, Oregon Coast

A stunning beach, popular with surfers and families, and with views of the beautiful sky, golden sands, and choppy waves, it’s easy to see why Cape Kiwanda is such a popular stop on the Oregon coast.

Take the short – but sweaty – incline up the huge sand dune that overlooks the beach. You’ll be treated to some amazing views that will make the climb all worth it.

Doesn’t this view remind you of the pictures from my road trip along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia? Gobsmackingly gorgeous!

On our climb down the dune, we loved the way that the beach seemed to change. This was through the weather, its colours, and the temperature. It felt as though each minute we saw a different shade of beach and ocean.

The sea, sand, and sky turned a lovely silvery shade resembling nothing but a glossy mirror. We watched the surfers and took one last paddle in the Pacific Ocean. Trying to dodge the waves from soaking our ankles, I realised this would probably be the last barefoot paddle this year.

One really cool thing on Cape Kiwanda is that you’re allowed to drive directly onto the beach. This means surfers can easily load their boards. We sat atop the Jeep and enjoyed the views of the ocean.

Saying a sorry goodbye to the Oregon Coast, with nothing but fish and chips from the hospitable Pelican Brewery (do hop in for a bite and a beer!) and the excitement of a new destination tomorrow keeping our moods up.

Oregon, you’re a wonderful, underrated state, and I can’t wait to explore more of your coast.


There’s my road trip along the Oregon coast! Have you done the same road trip? Where did you stop? Let me know in the comments below.

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6 Comments

  1. Glad you enjoyed your trip along my home state’s coastline! It was funny to see your reference to the Great Ocean Road as I’m a native Oregonian married to a native Melbourne fella (St Kilda to be specific) so I checked out that link and ironically we were last there the exact same week that you were visiting 🙂 We got married at Short Sands Beach here on the Oregon coast which is part of Oswald West State Park, in my opinion the most beautiful place on Earth…

    1. Thanks so much for your lovely comment! What a wonderful place to be from, I absolutely loved visiting the coast, and can’t wait to explore more of Oregon, I’ll have to check out Short Sands Beach. That’s such a coincidence! It reminded me so much of my trip to Melbourne so how funny that you are both from those gorgeous places! 🙂

    1. I really can’t recommend it enough! It totally blew my mind – I thought it would be lovely but I absolutely fell in love with the region. Portland is awesome too!

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