When you think of visiting the Oregon coast, you may think of flying kites, making sandcastles, playing in the surf on a skim board, throwing a frisbee, playing catch with your dog, or just kicking back and reading a good book. Yes, those are all great ways to spend a day at the beach. But during the winter months, when colder water and air temperatures make you rethink whether you want to be at the beach… think again.
The Oregon beaches are great to visit in the cooler months of November to March, they just require a little warmer clothes, waterproof shoes, and maybe a nice hot cup of coffee in hand. As the saying goes, there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing choices. The coast is an eco system that is always active and well worth exploring. There is so much to see! Grab your camera and capture a glorious sunset through stormy clouds peaking around the iconic rock formations. Watch the wildlife – pelicans, sea lions, crabs, puffins, seagulls, great blue herons, egrets, herds of elk, gray whales, bald eagles, and murres are all visible from various beaches along the coast. Watch for whales or enjoy a stormy day by a warm fire in a cozy little hotel room. Enjoy a little clam chowder, fresh salmon, or fish-n-chips at one of the many great restaurants. You’ll be sure to find a table with ease – before all the summer tourists arrive.
Tide pools are fascinating year-round and easy to find. At the base of most rock formations or cliffs, you will find pools full of colorful sea life. The bright colors shine in the clear water and are fun to watch and photograph. You may find sea stars, anemones, urchins, barnacles, crabs, limpets, snails, chiton, and mussels. Be careful where you step, though! That “rock” may be covered in living barnacles!
There are many great places to view wild life from small birds to the majestic elk. The rock formations around Oceanside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Pacific City, and Bandon are home to many varieties of birds both large and small. Where rivers meet the ocean are also great wildlife viewing areas including Tillamook Bay, Bay Ocean Peninsula, Netarts Bay, Sand Lake, Nestucca Bay, Siletz Bay, Yaquina Bay, Brian Booth State Park, Alsea River, Winchester Bay, Charleston, and Bandon State Natural Area. Roaming herd of elk can be found in Gearhart and Cannon Beach. Sea Lions congregate in areas around Florence, Newport’s bay front, as well as in Astoria where the salmon are plentiful.