Starting from the top and driving down, you will definitely have to stop at Cannon Beach for sunrise or sunset (it’s much too crowded any other time of the day. There is a neighborhood at one end of the beach, Tolovana, where you’ll see hundreds of bunnies roaming free all over the place. It’s unique because they aren’t quite wild bunnies; they’re domesticated! At one point someone set a bunch of their pet bunnies free and they started to multiply. Now there are entire families of them that live there roaming the beaches and eating from the locals’ gardens.
Make sure you stop at Hug Point too! We explored some magical sea caves there on the right side of the beach.
Cape Kiwanda is another one worth visiting. There you’ll find giant sand dunes, unique sea cliffs that you can walk out on, and you can even drive your van down on the beach!
The northern half of the coast is more populated than the southern half. It’s hard to say why exactly, because in my opinion, southern Oregon is more scenic… so if you only allot yourself enough time to visit a few beaches, I’d say stick to the bottom half.
The beaches at Bandon are worth checking out. You can play in the tide pools and explore the rocky habitats of various seabird communities.
Stop at Cook’s Chasm in Port Orford during high tide for a really fun surprise. There is an ocean geyser there in addition to a natural well. The well fills up through a 20 foot tunnel underneath and drains back down when the waves retreat, creating cascading waterfalls from all angles.
My favorite part of the coast is the Samuel H. Boardman scenic corridor. You really should stop at every vista point along the road, especially the ones where you can view all the natural bridges!
Tip: If you stop at Harris State Beach during low tide, you can get to this rock by going all the way down to the left and climbing over the rock stacks. A lot of people don’t know it’s there because some climbing is involved, but it’s nothing too strenuous and the payoff at the end is awesome.
Camping along the coastline is limited though, and that’s the only drawback. You won’t find any free official campsites there but there are tons of pay campgrounds if you choose to go that route. We tried to do the free thing so we were restricted to pull-outs along Highway 101 where we parked and slept between the ocean and the road. It wasn’t so bad and it’s surprisingly legal in Oregon where you don’t see any “no camping” signs! Or you can drive a little bit inland to the forest where there are plentiful free campsites like this one we found in the Siuslaw National Forest.