To make things clear from the start – Oregon coast is as epic as the Twilight saga and the Lord of the Rings put together. Add a little bit of DiCaprio and the Beach to the mix and you’ve got something to explore and keep you in awe for years.
Our visit was as long as Lord Tyrion from Game of Thrones – pretty short. We started from Ecola State Park just north from Cannon Beach. After a muddy and adventurous 2 km hike we found ourselves on a rugged beach, surrounded by cliffs and rocks and powerful waves. We spent some time running from the waves and then returned to the parking area to eat and try and spot some whales. We didn’t succeed, but there was a guy who said he’s seen about 10 gray whales in the last hour migrating North.
We continued by popping into the surfing town of Cannon Beach (yes, the found a cannon on the beach) and taking a closer look at the famous Haystack Rock and then heading on to Tillamook, stopping at several viewpoints on the road.
Does Tillamook sound cheesy to you? It’s a cheese town for sure, with many factories you can go and visit and have a tasting. That’s what we did at Blue Heron Creamery, matching the cheese with wine and crackers. What a nice way to end a day!
We started early the next morning to cover the remaining 2/3 of the famous coast. First, some lighthouses and scenic points on the three cape loop, followed by more scenic points and lighthouses. Don’t get me wrong here, they are all worth stopping for.
Our highlight of the morning was Tierra del Mar beach, though. Why? Because you can actually drive your car on the beach and not just maneuver it in between babes in bikinis like Mitch and the other Baywatch guys, but actually go fast. Add a little bit of morning mist and waves crashing into huge rocks… EPIC!
The day brought us no whale sightings either, although we tried, especially hard in a cute gift shop at Cape Foulweather. We took the easy way with sea lions and just went and visited their cave, that has been developed into a tourist attraction. Nevertheless, it was fun visiting the Worlds largest sea cave and to cheer for the little everyday victories of sea lions – like getting out of the water onto a rock and fighting for the right to stay there.
The landscape changes dramatically after the cave, the rocky coast is replaced by huge sand dunes. It’s not like Sahara desert or anything, but still quite of an area and the coolest thing is that you can rent sand buggies or ATV’s to go and explore it. Would love to share the experience with you, but we got there to late to rent anything, so we have to keep the excitement for the next time.
We traveled on and caught the amazing sunset at Bandon and stayed there for the night, only to witness an even more amazing sunrise, framed with a rainbow. Oregon Coast is magical!
The new day made us slow down and look for something different besides the sights. Our trusty van started making rumbling noises at the front wheel. We self-diagnosed it to be a bad wheel bearing and started to look for a repair shop. There are as many options in the small towns as there is orange juice in Fanta so we kept going until we got to Brookings, where we got an appointment for the next morning.
The problem with the car slowed us down, but actually we were pretty happy about it, because we have been on the road for 10 days and believe it or not, it has worn us out a bit. So we were happy to just sit on the beach at Port Orford for lunch and at Brookings for dinner and just enjoy the sun, the waves and people surfing. Plus we like to believe that we saw a whale while sitting on the beach.
To be honest we also went to the local library in Brookings, but this time not because we like to read, but because it holds an interesting piece of history. Brookings is the only known place in continental US that was bombed in WWII. As you can guess by the fact that there is no Hollywood movie about it, it wasn’t too spectacular. As single Japanese plane was launched from a submarine with a mission to ignite the Redwood forests. It dropped 4 bombs, but the forest didn’t catch fire. 20 years later the local activists sought out the Japanese pilot and invited him for a revisit. He came and presented his Samurai sword as a peace offering. Today the sword is displayed in the library.
To sum it all up, the scenic byway highway 101 and all of the byways of the byway have been worth taking and we would recommend the route to anyone. Just take your time and bring a wet-suit and a surf board with you!