Get stoked about great waves, few people and fish tacos.
Imagine you arrive at the beach, surfboard waxed and ready to go, and it’s nothing but sweet little peelers with nobody on them. Head south along Oregon’s Highway 101 and this dreamy endless-summer moment can be yours — in fall.
Some of Oregon’s least-surfed breaks are located along the Central and South coasts, from Lincoln City down to Brookings, and the fall season can offer up some super-friendly waves. Many breaks are also conveniently located at state or city parks with a range of facilities, which means you can shower, camp and even rent a yurt in some places. Here’s where to go for great surfing and post-surf fish tacos, plus a few spots to stay on a road trip.
Shredding from Pacific City to Florence
The annual Cape Kiwanda Longboard Classic in Pacific City is a great place to start your surf adventure. In 2022 it takes place September 16-18, and it promises to bring the stoke with live music, shaping events, tasty eats and longboarders showing off their nose-riding skills.
From Pacific City, head about 20 miles south on Highway 101 to rent gear (and see historic boards) at Lincoln City Surf Shop, and grab a burrito at Pacific Grind Café. You’ll need the gear and body fuel before driving 18 miles south to Otter Rock, called the Waikiki Beach of Oregon because of its fun, sand-bottomed waves for beginners.
Your next stop along Oregon’s Central Coast is Ossies Surf Shop on Agate Beach, where the folks will share current conditions and gear you up. Opt for a surfing lesson and you can literally walk across the street in your wetsuit and be shredding in minutes. About 1 mile south of Newport, South Beach State Park is a fun beach break with a jetty that kicks out some nice rights on a south swell. There’s a campground with both electrical and tent sites here, plus yurts for rent. After your session, grab a coastal-brewed pint and fresh-catch fish tacos at Newport Brewing Co., dine on local Dungeness crab cakes at Local Ocean, or travel about 50 miles down to the south jetty in Florence, which attracts throngs of advanced surfers on a west swell.
Swell South Coast Surfing
Just another 50 miles south and you’ll reach Coos Bay, the gateway to the cool surf communities of the South Coast. Head straight to Waxer’s Surf Shop for gear (and sign on for a lesson if you want), then enjoy nearby Bastendorff Beach, a sandy beach that’s flanked by Yoakam Head and protected from pesky south winds. Brag about your swell conquests over beer and halibut tacos at Shark Bites Café. If you want to hit dawn patrol the next morning, Bastendorff Beach County Park has campgrounds, or kick back in a swanky Airstream trailer at Bay Point Landing.
Nesika Beach can offer friendly autumn peelers, and there’s almost always no crowds, or if the surf isn’t hitting, head south about 9 miles to the Rogue River jetty at Gold Beach. Later in the fall, seasoned surfers might want to migrate a little farther south of Gold Beach to the sands at Meyers Creek, scenic with sea stacks.
After a long day of paddling, wander into town for an Oregon albacore tuna melt at Barnacle Bistro or local clam chowder at Port Hole Cafe, both Gold Beach favorites.
Just 6 miles north of the Oregon border, the south jetty in Brookings can be a rare surfing haven where peaks break left and right over a sandy bottom. Park at Beachfront RV Park and in the dirt parking strip directly in front of the surf spot. Just north of town, hit the shower and chill out in your rented yurt at Harris Beach State Park, and then relax with a plate of cheesy gravy fries and a pint of local IPA at Oxenfrē Public House.
Surfing Safety and Etiquette
While surfing can be a lot of fun, it’s important to stay safe. Read the surf reports and check the weather and tides before you go. Be prepared with the right gear for your trip, including a thick 5/4mm wetsuit, booties and a hood. Newbies will do themselves and fellow surfers a favor by boning up on surf etiquette. As always, try to leave the beach a little better than you found it and Leave No Trace.
– By Michelle Kehm