Compared to the North Coast and Central Coast, the South Oregon Coast is the proverbial road less traveled. The 134-mile stretch of coastline, from Reedsport to Brookings, is more remote, less crowded and less touristy than the 200 miles to the north. Here on the Southern Coast of Oregon you’ll make an escape from hectic urban life into a slowed-down world of empty beaches, secret coves, vast wildlife refuges and small fishing villages.
People don’t visit the South Oregon Coast less because it lacks beauty. In fact, just like the other areas of the Oregon Coast, there’s breathtaking scenery around every bend, from giant stacks dotting beaches to miles of rolling sand dunes to acres of protected national forest. Part of the reason that the southern coast area is less crowded is because of its distance from major metropolitan areas. It takes two to three hours to reach the towns of the South Oregon Coast from the cities of Medford, Eugene and Portland, and it’s more than seven hours from San Francisco, California, to Brookings, Oregon, the southernmost town on the Oregon coast.
The southern Oregon coastline is home to dozens of protected natural areas and overlooks, including more than 25 state and national parks and scenic corridors. They’re all amazing, but some of the most popular include the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area and the three state parks on Cape Arago (Cape Arago, Shore Acres and Sunset Bay state parks), Cape Blanco Lighthouse State Park, Port Orford Heads State Park and Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. Favorite activities in these natural areas include hiking, beach combing, surfing, camping, fresh and saltwater fishing, boating and paddling, clamming, crabbing, dune climbing and dune, swimming, windsurfing/kiteboarding, wildlife watching, storm watching, exploring history and so much more. Explore this site to find all the information you’ll need for recreation on the South Oregon Coast as well as where to dine, shop and sleep.
Towns of South Oregon Coast
Towns on this stretch include Reedsport, an inland working-class town on the Umpqua River, and just south of there Winchester Bay, home to vast sand dunes and a haven for dune buggy recreation, and Lakeside, a small town on the shores of Tenmile Lake and popular fishing destination. The City of Coos Bay, situated inland on Coos Bay, is the coast’s largest populated area (25,000) and an active port busy with ship traffic and fishing vessels. Adjacent to Coos Bay is North Bend, which has the only airport on the coast with commercial jet service. Bandon is a small town where the Coquille River meets the Pacific; it offers nice beaches with rock formations and a charming Old Town area on the waterfront. Port Orford is a working fishing port with lovely beaches and many dining options. Gold Beach, at the mouth of the Rogue River, offers access to some of the coast’s most beautiful natural areas and is a popular spot for fishing charters. Finally, there is the lively City of Brookings and small, unincorporated Harbor, which people consider one community. Situated on the Chaco River and the ocean, this area offers beautiful beaches, marinas and hiking among the largest stand of redwoods in Oregon.
Frequently Asked Questions
To visit South Oregon Coast, should I fly into Portland or Eugene?
Eugene is closer. The drive from Portland to Coos Bay, for instance, is a little more than 4 hours, while the drive from Eugene is around 2 hours. Portland is obviously the bigger airport with more flight offerings, and if you choose to fly there your drive to the coast will be scenic with many opportunities for sightseeing. Air service to Eugene is more limited, but several major airlines fly there, including American, Delta, Frontier United. There is an airport on the south coast, Southwest Oregon Regional Airport in North Bend, with direct flights between San Francisco and Denver.
How do I know which seafood products are in season on the South Oregon Coast?
Fresh seafood is one of the best things about the the Oregon coast, and the best time to eat it is when it is fresh off the boat. For Chinook salmon, that’s May through August, while for Coho salmon it’s all year round. For Pacific halibut it is in late June and early July. For Albacore tuna season, it’s from June through October. For Pink shrimp season, it’s from April through October, and for Dungeness crab, it’s from December through August. Fish like flounder, lingcod, sole and blackcod can be caught all year round. Find the the Oregon Seafood Consumer Guide here: https://seagrant.oregonstate.edu/sgpubs/whats-fresh-and-when-oregon-seafood-consumer-guide-2018
I’ve heard you can find fossils on South Oregon Coast. Where should I look?
Fossils and agates can be found on beaches adjacent to cliffsides and rocky headlands. Winter is a good time to look that’s when heavy surf will dislodge fossils from rocks and cliffsides. Remember that it is illegal to dislodge fossils or agates from the rocks yourself, though it is fine to keep any that you find loose on the sand.
Is there a good place to golf alongside the ocean on South Oregon Coast?
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort offers Scottish links-style courses with many holes offering dramatic views of the Pacific Ocean. Golfers come from around the world play its five top-rated, world-class courses.
Do I need a fishing license to fish on South Oregon Coast?
Yes. You need a license for freshwater and saltwater fishing as well as for collecting shellfish and hunting. Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife offers many different types of licenses, tags and validations. You can purchase these online, at ODFW office or through local tackle shops and retailers. All the information you need can be found here: https://myodfw.com/articles/ways-buy-license