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Cape Kiwanda And Pacific City Oregon Coast Beach Adventures

As I reminisce about the Algarve region in southern Portugal, where ancient sandstone arches meet stunning beaches and rugged coastlines, my mind wanders to another breathtaking destination – the Oregon coast, specifically Cape Kiwanda and Pacific City. Just a half-mile apart, these two attractions offer an unforgettable beach adventure. This guide will take you on a journey to explore the best of Cape Kiwanda and Pacific City, featuring spectacular views of Haystack Rock, one of the most beautiful drivable beaches in Oregon, as well as majestic sand dunes. With so many activities to enjoy, it’s no wonder that this coastal paradise has left me with lasting memories.

What to know about Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area

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The Pacific City coastline in Oregon is a haven of natural splendor, with unique sandstone formations giving way to expansive sandy beaches that seamlessly merge with the soothing waves of the Pacific Ocean, creating an idyllic setting that’s hard to resist.

Three Capes Scenic Route

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The Three Capes Scenic Route is a must-visit destination on the Oregon coast, featuring stunning drives and breathtaking views. Cape Kiwanda, one of the three capes along this route, stands out as an exceptional spot for drivable beaches in the state. In addition to its scenic beauty, Cape Kiwanda offers an exhilarating experience – simply climb up a massive sand dune for panoramic ocean vistas. The Three Capes Scenic Loop is an ideal road trip itinerary for the north Oregon coast, offering year-round excitement and adventure.

Haystack Rock Sea Stack

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The moment you gaze out at the breathtaking view, you’ll be struck by the confluence of natural wonders. The sandy dunes, twisted rock formations, and hidden crevices create a captivating landscape. But it’s Haystack Rock that truly steals the show – standing tall at 327 feet above sea level, this iconic formation is not only the tallest of Oregon’s coastal Haystack Rocks but also an integral part of Cannon Beach’s unique charm, alongside its counterparts at Bandon’s Devil’s Kitchen Wayside.

Seattle and Portland Getaway

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A weekend getaway from Portland is ideal for exploring Cape Kiwanda and Pacific City, allowing you to fully appreciate the area’s natural beauty and enjoy a range of outdoor activities. The scenic drive takes around two hours, making it feasible as a day trip, but staying overnight affords more time to hike, take in the breathtaking views of Haystack Rock, and immerse yourself in the unique charm of this Oregon park and coastline. For nature enthusiasts, Cape Kiwanda offers an unparalleled Pacific Northwest experience. The area is renowned for its kite flying, fishing, hiking, wildlife watching, and photography opportunities, all set against a backdrop of stunning coastal scenery that can be savored throughout the year.

What to Know about Pacific City

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Pacific City may be small, boasting a population of just over 1,000, but its unique charm and natural beauty make it an outstanding destination in Oregon. Situated at the southern end of the Three Capes Scenic Route, the Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area is Pacific City’s main attraction. This serene coastal town is ideal for weekend escapes, romantic getaways, mindful travel, and hiking excursions. Unlike bustling metropolises filled with rushing businessmen or towering skyscrapers, Pacific City offers a quaint fishing village, stunning natural landscapes, and pristine beaches. Its understated nature is part of its allure, making it an exceptional choice for those seeking a tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Fun Facts about Cape Kiwanda and Pacific City

Pacific City’s history dates back to a name change in 1909, when it was previously known as Ocean City to avoid confusion with Washington’s Ocean Park. This coastal town is renowned for its century-old Pacific Dory Fleet, which launches from the southern tip of the cape. Surfers and hang gliders flock to this popular spot, while the frigid waters remain a constant throughout the year. Despite its name, Pacific City isn’t a city at all – it’s a quaint village with a population of just over 1,000 residents. The area is also home to Haystack Rock at Cape Kiwanda Beach, an impressive 327 feet tall, towering nearly 100 feet above its more famous counterpart on Cannon Beach, Oregon.

Fun Things to do Around Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area

Surrounded by breathtaking natural splendor, Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area offers a plethora of activities and experiences that cater to diverse interests and preferences.

Hiking at Cape Kiwanda

At Cape Kiwanda, hiking is an absolute must-do experience. The adventure begins at the parking lot adjacent to Pelican Brewing Company, where most hikers start their journey. From there, you’ll meander towards the beach, making your way to the 250-foot Great Dune. As you ascend, the trail signs will become more prominent, guiding you effortlessly along the path.

For those seeking breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and iconic Haystack Rock, take a left at the dune’s crest. Alternatively, continue along the ridgeline for miles upon miles of unobstructed coastal vistas. If time allows, indulge in both routes – the rewards are well worth the effort. The panoramic views from the dune and surrounding area are undeniably some of the most stunning found at Cape Kiwanda and Pacific City.

Sand Dunes

At Cape Kiwada State Natural Area, venturing into the sand dunes is an unforgettable experience. The park boasts the highest sand dune on the Pacific coast of Oregon, aptly named the Great Dune, which towers at an impressive 240 feet in height. For thrill-seekers and nature enthusiasts alike, climbing this massive dune offers a unique adventure, culminating in breathtaking views that will leave you in awe.

Kite Flying

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Oregon’s coastline offers an exhilarating experience for outdoor enthusiasts and families alike – kite flying! The consistent winds at Cape Kiwanda and Pacific City make these beaches perfect spots to soar your kites. Plan a visit to either Pacific City Beach or Cape Kiwanda for an afternoon of fun in the sun. Consider preparing your own kite beforehand, and don’t forget to pack a picnic lunch or snacks to enjoy while you take in the breathtaking views and the thrill of flying your kite. This is an ideal way to spend quality time with loved ones and create lasting memories.


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The consistent wind in Pacific City also makes it an ideal spot for surfing. However, it’s essential to note that the water temperature remains chilly throughout the year, so donning a wetsuit is crucial for a comfortable and safe experience. Additionally, be aware of the occasional shark sightings in the area by keeping a lookout before and during your surf session.

If you’re new to surfing or prefer not to invest in equipment just yet, there are several options available for renting boards or booking lessons. Moment Surf Company and Seven Surfboards are two reputable spots to consider.

EB Adventure Photography

Beach Fires

As the day comes to a close, consider wrapping up with a serene nighttime beach bonfire experience. Although I visited during the winter months when permits were granted for fires, it’s essential to verify with the state park authorities beforehand for any seasonal restrictions or bans due to wildfire concerns. When making a fire, opt for an open sandy area and position it downwind of any nearby vegetation and debris, such as driftwood, to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Pelican Brewing Company

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After discovering the best of Pacific City’s coastline, unwind at Pelican Brewing Company, situated directly on the beachside of Pacific City Beach. This hip taproom and restaurant has been a local favorite since its inception in 1996, earning numerous accolades for its craft beer. The menu features an array of options, including locally-brewed beers like the refreshing Pelican Pilsner, as well as seasonal craft beers and other drinks. When hunger strikes, indulge in mouth-watering pizza, pasta, seafood, or brunch, whichever suits your taste. Enjoy the stunning views of Cape Kiwanda from either the indoor or outdoor seating areas. For hours and pricing information, check their website.

On Beach Driving in Pacific City

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Two primary access points allow vehicle entry to the beach: one situated on the south side across Pacific City Avenue, just beyond the bridge, and another located on the north side adjacent to Pelican Brewing Company. This drive-in beach experience in Oregon is a thrilling aspect of coastal adventures.

It’s crucial to ensure your vehicle is suitable for off-road driving – think rugged trucks or jeeps – as getting stuck can occur, and you wouldn’t want that! To fully appreciate the Oregon coast’s scenic beauty, take note of the signs and only drive within permitted areas. Keep in mind that speed limits are in place, so drive slowly and responsibly.

By following these guidelines, we can all contribute to preserving the drivable beaches along Oregon’s stunning coastline, allowing future generations to enjoy this unique experience.

Cape Kiwanda Safety

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When venturing into this fragile terrain, it’s crucial to respect the designated boundaries. The cliff face has a notorious reputation for sudden collapses, making it perilous to proceed beyond the safety fences. Regrettably, there have been fatalities resulting from attempts to climb past these markers. To ensure your well-being and preserve the integrity of this sensitive ecosystem, refrain from crossing into unauthorized areas. While the vistas are breathtaking without the need for reckless exploration, prioritize caution and stick to designated pathways.

Best Time of Year to Visit Cape Kiwanda

Cape Kiwanda’s charm can be enjoyed at any time of the year. While summer (July and August) brings the warmest weather with minimal rainfall, making it ideal for sun-kissed beach days, I believe that every season has its unique advantages. For instance, during early spring (late April or early May), or early autumn, you can experience a mix of pleasant weather and smaller crowds, allowing for a more relaxed atmosphere. On the other hand, if you’re not deterred by rain or fog, the Pacific Northwest’s natural beauty shines through regardless of the season. As a year-round destination, Cape Kiwanda offers something for everyone, whether you prefer the tranquility of a misty morning or the vibrancy of a sunny summer day.

Cape Kiwanda Road Trip Vlog

Embark on a captivating journey through the Pacific Northwest’s picturesque Cape Kiwanda State Park. As we delve into the highlights of this unforgettable adventure, get ready to be mesmerized by the area’s most iconic attractions. A heartfelt thank-you goes out to Braedin Toth for capturing the breathtaking moments and memories from this epic road trip.

Accommodation at Cape Kiwanda and Pacific City

Hart’s Camp Airstream Hotel & RV Park

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Located just a short stroll from the beach, this Pacific City gem offers an unparalleled stay experience. The property’s eclectic charm is evident in its collection of retro-style metal RVs, each meticulously updated with modern amenities. As you settle into your cozy abode, you’ll appreciate the thoughtful touches that include a campfire pit and picnic table at every site.But Hart’s Camp Airstream Hotel & RV Park is more than just a place to rest your head. The property boasts an array of outdoor spaces designed for socializing and relaxation. Gather ’round the large fire pit and enjoy quality time with friends, family, or fellow travelers. Challenge each other to games like giant Jenga, Uno, horseshoes, and cornhole in the gazebo-equipped common areas.This hip spot is perfect for couples, groups of friends, or anyone seeking a unique and fun place to stay in Pacific City. As you explore the property, keep an eye out for the occasional wild bunny making an appearance. For more information on staying at Hart’s Camp Airstream Hotel & RV Park, look no further.

Cape Kiwanda and Pacific City FAQ

Getting to Pacific City from Portland is relatively straightforward. The drive typically takes around two hours, but if you prefer not to drive, there are bus routes available that take approximately three and a half hours. Once you arrive, you’ll find that Cape Kiwanda park is open year-round, regardless of the weather or season. While exploring the area, you may be wondering about beach access. Fortunately, in some sections, driving on the beach is permitted – just be sure to follow the signage and guidelines. Additionally, Pacific City’s beaches are dog-friendly, so feel free to bring your furry companion along. Just remember to exercise responsible pet ownership by keeping them leashed when necessary and cleaning up after them. I highly recommend a weekend getaway to Cape Kiwanda and Pacific City. The stunning ocean views, Haystack Rock, the Great Dune, and sandstone cliffs make for an unforgettable experience. Plus, there’s no shortage of activities at Cape Kiwanda to keep your weekend itinerary packed. Add this to your list of top Oregon coast beach adventures for nature enthusiasts.