Heceta Head Lightstation is situated in an incredibly diverse area, offering spectacular natural attractions, historical sites, and tourist destinations. Florence and Yachats are just 15 minutes away while Newport is only a 45 minute scenic drive. You will find the entire central Oregon coast offers a range of activities year round.
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
From Florence to Coos Bay, the Oregon Dunes extends for 40 miles along the Oregon Coast. There are many hiking trails and camping sites inside the Oregon Dunes Recreation area
For many visitors the real attraction is the opportunity to explore the Oregon Dunes on the back of an ATV. Sand Dunes Frontier gives tours daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March through October. Sand Rail tours last 30 minutes and the experience is like riding a roller coaster! For those with a weak stomach, Big Buggy Scenic/ Interpretive Tours are offered. Big Buggy tours last 40 minutes. For more information call 541-997-3544.
If you prefer a non motorized approach to the Dunes but still want the speed and thrills you are in luck. Sand Master Park is one of the few sand parks in the world. Sand boards are available for purchase and rent. Rental prices range depending on the size of the board. Instruction is available as well as some protective clothing. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily May 1 through October 1, weather permitting. Contact the Sand Master Park at 541-997-6006.
C&M Stables, just down the road, offers several different horseback rides. Beach walks, sunset rides, mountain trail rides and dune trail rides are offered year round. Tide times vary so call ahead. Hours of operation change as the season progresses, but generally they are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. During the summer, sunset falls at 8 or 9 p.m. and rides are given up to that point. Prices range with a 3 person minimum. 2 people can go, but it will cost extra. You are strongly advised to bring warm clothing, as the weather can change quickly. 541-997-7540
Sea Lion Caves
The Worlds largestSea Lion Cave is only 1 Mile away! During the winter months, Sea Lions enter the cave in large numbers and also sun on the rocks outside the cave. In the summer months many of them leave and head out to the Ocean. A quick phone call will tell you how many Sea Lions are in the cave at the moment. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. everyday. 541-547-3111.
Newport is blessed with the Oregon Coast Aquarium, which gained international fame as the home of Keiko. The giant tank that housed Keiko has been turned into the “Passages of the Deep? exhibit, where you can walk through a clear underwater tunnel and view, among other things, sharks! Oregon Coast Aquarium is open 7 days a week, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center is just down the road and is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Admission is by donation.
Should you want to experience the open ocean, Newport has two options; deep sea fishing and the Marine Discovery Tours. Newport Tradewinds Deep Sea Fishing is open year round. Halibut, Salmon, Tuna, Crab and Bottom fish are available, depending on the season. Newport Tradewinds also hosts a Whale Watching trip with the best times in the Early Spring or Late Fall. Prices vary greatly depending on the package, please call for more details. 1-800-676-7819. Marine Discovery Tours are given every day from 9 a.m. to 5 pm. A 2 hour cruise takes you out past the jetty and into the ocean. A naturalist is onboard to answer questions about the abundant wildlife one can see. Marine Discovery Tours allow for fun activities such as driving the boat and crabbing. Should the weather not cooperate an alternative route is taken along the bay and river. Marine Discovery Tours advises you to call before hand, as they can book up especially during the summer. Call 1-800-903-BOAT for more information.
Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in North Newport is the Home of Yaquina Head Lighthouse. This is a fee use site and is run by the Bureau of Land Management. Entrance is $5.00 per private vehicle. Hours are Daylight to Sunset. The Lighthouse is open from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m for a self guided tour. An excellent interpretive center is located nearby and is included in the cost. Yaquina Bay Lighthouse is maintained and operated by a non profit organization. The Lighthouse is open for tours, and is decorated of the period. 541-265-5679. Donations are greatly appreciated.
Enjoy the game on some of the best courses in Oregon – great views!
Explore all Oregon Wineries at The Oregon Wine Board
For more History, head to one of the several museums located nearby.Siuslaw Pioneer Museum in Florence is open 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. daily except for Monday. Cost is only $2.00 per person. Children 12 and under enter for free. Waldport Heritage Museum in Waldport is open Friday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This is a free attraction. Also in Waldport is the fascinating McCoullugh Bridge Interpretive Center. Conde McCoullugh was the architect who designed many of the beautiful bridges on Highway 101. These include the bridges in Newport, Waldport, Florence and of course our favorite, the Cape Creek Bridge, which is fashioned after a Roman Aqueduct.
To include all the wayside attractions and trails in the area would be impossible. Suffice to say there are many wonderful walks along the beaches and through pristine forest. Wildlife is abundant and includes sea creatures like the Grey Whales, Sea Otter, Stellar Sea Lions, Seals, and the occasional Orca! Birdwatchers are rewarded with views of the Bald eagle, Murres, Cormorants, Puffins, Pelicans, Hummingbirds etc. On land Black Bear, Bobcat, and Mountain Lion are the largest of the many different creatures in the woods. Beach combing produces wonderful agates, shells, and whatever else washes ashore. During the winter months local volunteers place hand blown glass balls along the beaches near Florence.
The peak season for whale watching is late December when Grey Whales migrate from Alaska to Mexico for birthing. In the spring the Grey Whales return up the Oregon Coast and are often easier to spot than in December due to the calmer weather. In Depoe Bay, about two hours north of Heceta Head, whale watching charters run all year as several Grey Whales have taken up permanent residence nearby.
Regulars to the Oregon coast say: “When the weather is nice it is nice, but when it is bad it is GREAT!? From our vantage point high above the Pacific we can see storms miles away and experience incredible surf and winds, all while relaxing around a fire in the parlor. The New York Times said this is one of the best places on the coast to watch a storm.
All along the Oregon Coast are fine art galleries, studios, and gift boutiques featuring talented local and national artists. Browsing through the many antique and nautical shops is also a wonderful way to spend the day.
Bring lots of film! Try your hand at capturing a beautiful, unusual, or creative shot of one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world. Capturing the revolving beams at night is a worthy challenge for the seasoned photographer. Just below the Keepers House stands Cape Creek Bridge, noted as one of the most beautiful McCulloch bridges ever built.
These references are just a taste of what the Central Oregon Coast has to offer. Enjoy!