Lincoln City and Depoe Bay
The 2nd largest city in the central coast after Newport, Lincoln City is where most tourists come to enjoy all that the Oregon coast has to offer. Sporting a 7-mile-long beach that was voted as one of the top ones in the US, this small town offers the best of the central coast. It is also the only town that has a major grocery store and all the crap fast food restaurants that America is known for. It also has the massive Chinook Casino, an outlet mall, and many hotels that cater from basic to luxury travel. The northhern most end of Lincoln City is called Road’s End and the beach here is very nice. A huge rock cliff juts out into the ocean, and this is the beginning of the 7-mile stretch of beach which ends in the Siletz Bay beach. The sand for almost the entire distance is soft and powdery and you will not need sandals and can go barefoot. There are sandstone cliffs with houses for the entire distance expect for a bit in the middle where the D River flows into the ocean. While there is a sign proudly proclaiming this as the world’s shortest river (it was even submitted to the Guinness Book of World Records), it’s really a backwash of ocean water and not much else. In June, it is also the site of one of the largest kite festivals in the world. As you would expect, the parts of the beach with public access are the most crowded and ones I avoid. My favorite parts are Road’s End to the north and Nelscott Beach to the south. But, off peak season, you can walk almost anywhere along this entire length of beach and see very few people. That and the fact the beach is spotlessly clean and very natural, it is very easy to become one with the sea and sand here. On the rock formations along the way, you can find sea anemones, crabs, and starfish in the small tidal pools. The exposed rocks during low tide sport a veritable universe of varying sea life and is beautiful to simply observe.
Another reason people come to Lincoln City is for storm watching which can be rather spectacular, especially in the winter. Because the views are from a height on the cliff, staying in any ocean view home or hotel offers panoramic 180 degree views. It is easy to see a storm forming off in the distance, slowly moving over the water, and then finally making landfall in all its violent and raw fury. This is especially nice when inside with the fireplace on and a nice glass of Oregon Pinot Noir in hand 😊One other place of interest in Lincoln City is the massive Devil’s Lake (the Devil seems to have many places along the coast in his namesake) which has some nice parks to picnic in if you desire to be away from the wind on the beach. In the summer, it is a great place for kayaking, fishing, paddleboarding, and swimming. Finally, an interesting fact about Lincoln City is that the 45th parallel passes just north of the main city. There is a board proclaiming this as you drive north along Highway 101; 45th Parallel, Halfway between the Equator and the North Pole.
Claiming to house “the world’s smallest navigable harbor” and being the ‘whale watching capital of the world’, this small gem of a town sits between the two large towns of Lincoln City and Newport. This was the place where we first came in July of 2020 and always has a special place in our heart Driving into Depoe Bay from the north, the first glimpse is of the shimmering Pacific at the Boiler Bay Scenic Viewpoint. This offers a good preview of the town as the powerful waves of the ocean crash into the ancient basalt rocks that make up most of the coastline here. The view to the north is of the entire coastline back to Lincoln City and is reminiscent of coastlines in Australia and Corsica. Continuing the drive into town goes past condos, hotels, and many newly constructed homes. You finally arrive at the main part of town with a single stoplight and a row of quaint and unique shops to the left. To the right is a promenade with a statue of a whale, and rightly so as this is where you can get a glimpse of these massive, beautiful creatures. Depoe Bay is home to a pod of whales who live here much of the year. In fact, staying in any of the places facing the ocean, you will hear their cooing all day and night. Late fall and spring are when they are most plentiful and the best months to spot them are in December and January as they migrate south and in late March and April, as they return north. The rest of the town is as quaint as it is interesting starting with the harbor. It lives up to its name as the world’s smallest and can be seen from the pedestrian crossing under the roadway at the south end of town. Cross over from the ocean side and raise a pint at the The Horn Public House where the selection of beers is as good as the views from the many windows. Walking back north are many small shops, a few restaurants, and a winery where the selection is actually quite good; central Oregon wine country is a short drive away after all. While the shops sell the usual tourist fare of shirts and souvenirs, many also have a remarkable selection of local and unique items on offer. And this being the northwest, there is a cannabis dispensary at the end of the promenade.
Cape Foulweather and Devil’s Punchbowl
Driving south from Depoe Bay, the road winds through the mountain offering some beautiful views of the ocean and also the forests. Cape Foulweather lookout point offers one of the best views in this part of the coast and one you will not want to miss. Named by Captain Cook in March of 1778, this point rises 500 feet above the ocean and offers spectacular views from north to south. The view south towards Newport is simply stunning and one most seen by visitors to this area. While its grey and miserable here when raining, hence its name by Cook, it is quite the opposite on a sunny day.
Driving down the hill from here lands you at the Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area which offers a view of a unique rock formation which is a collapsed sea cave and shaped like a huge punch bowl. The viewing and parking area also offers views of the ragged cliffs to the north and a beautiful beach to the south. It is from this beach that it possible to walk into the Punchbowl by walking to the north and clambering over the rocks along the way. Mind the tide and time of day as it is extremely dangerous to go during high tide as you can get trapped inside to unable to walk back over the rocks to the main beach. Finally, this beach is very popular with surfers given the powerful waves that crash ashore. The parking area has a surf shop and a wine-tasting room along with a place to sit and enjoy the views.