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Surfing the Oregon Coast at Smuggler Cove

View of beach and sand with trees in background

When you think of the Oregon Coast, surfing might not be the first thing that comes to mind. We get it! For most of the year, Oregon’s rocky shoreline is cold, rainy, and downright wintery. We certainly aren’t suggesting that you throw on a bikini or board shorts – but with the right gear (think…. the thickest wetsuit possible), you could be hanging ten in no time! If you are staying in Portland, plan a day trip out to the Northern Coast and Short Sand Beach for a fun-filled, action-packed day of waves.  

Located within Oswald West State Park, Short Sand Beach is a little treasure tucked away into a small cove, surrounded by the quintessential rocky bluffs and coastal temperate rainforests for which Oregon is known. Surfers gather here year-round to enjoy waves fit for any skill level, and if you are in town, you should too! To add to its appeal, this beach is only accessible by foot, giving it an extra secluded feel and affording you the chance to fit a nice hike into your day while you’re at it. Boasting just about every shade of green you can imagine, the hike to the cove is teeming with giant sword ferns scattered throughout the forest floor and neon green bits of moss and lichens clinging to the branches of giant evergreens. If you’re hauling your surfboard down with you, you might need to take a couple of breaks along the way to rest your arms, but don’t get discouraged! Your hard work will pay off when the trail opens up to a beautiful stretch of sand and the expanse of Smuggler Cove. 

Despite being a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, this beach has plenty of space to spread out and enjoy a little bit of much needed time with Mother Nature. Put your beach blanket down on the sand and pitch an umbrella. In between waves you can lay back, relax, and enjoy the distant roar of the pacific, complemented by the occasional squawk of a seagull floating overhead (watch your snacks, or they may fly away!).  

In addition to your surfboard and wetsuit, be sure to bring a sack lunch with you so that you don’t have to trek all the way back to the parking lot for some fuel midway through your session. Also, you won’t find any water fountains on the beach, so pack plenty of water!  

Before you are ready to trek back through the coastal rainforest to your car, don’t forget to leave the beach cleaner and more beautiful than you found it. If you’ve worked up an appetite, there are plenty of great options in the town of Cannon Beach for a quick bite before hitting the road back to Portland. Our favorite way to finish the day is to enjoy a hot bowl of clam chowder at the Wayfarer or yummy fish and chips from Ecola Seafood before taking one last stroll on the beach to enjoy the sunset with picture perfect views of Haystack Rock in the background.