Leadbetter Point State Park on the Long Island Beach Peninsula.

Image: Daniel Root

IT MAY SOUND BOASTFUL, but it’s also a simple truth: There is no coastline in America more worthy of exploration than our little stretch of the Pacific. For unlike those flat, white beaches of Florida, or the overpopulated SoCal shores, the Oregon Coast does not brazenly expose itself for all the world to see. On the contrary, courtesy of vertigo-inducing cliffs, colossal dunes, peninsulas that divide the shore into a hundred paradisiacal coves, and rivers that course down the Coast Range before opening their mouths to the sea, the Oregon Coast prefers to keep its secrets. Which it usually does—at least from most of the tourists who ply Highway 101 each year.

For such idle travelers, there are vistas enough: overlooks, haystack rocks, lighthouses, what have you. But it stands to reason, given the terrain, that some of the coast’s most sublime spots are hidden: You have to work to find that perfect view of the lighthouse from the end of a tree-lined trail, or that clapboard bistro with the windows looking out on the docks, where fishermen unload the catch of the day. Equal parts pride and selfishness make us want to keep such knowledge from the rest of the country. But we think it only right to share these top-secret locales with the people who live in close proximity to them: you.

Within the following pages, you’ll find a guide to 34 out-of-the-way places, from the tip of Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula to a secret beach (called, no kidding, Secret Beach) fewer than 20 miles from the California border. To make your explorations easy, we’ve laid them out mile-by-mile, north to south. This is the guide to those elusive places that you always had a feeling were right around the next bend in Highway 101, but that you’ve never been able to find. Now, at long last, you can.