For a coastal destination with everything from thousands of seabirds to teaming tide pools, visit the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. The natural area claims a swath of the Oregon Coast, stretching a mile into the Pacific Ocean before dropping off with steep cliffs and rocky beaches.
Yaquina Headland is a prime spot for tide pool fun, with the basalt rock beaches home to a tidal community of the usual Oregon beach suspects - orange sea stars, purple sea urchins, and giant green anemones to name a few. Cobble Beach is known as a particularly great spot to visit with the ocean critters, and during low tide a diverse and colorful population of plants and animals are exposed.
The area is also home to Oregon's tallest lighthouse – a towering, white, conical-shaped light tower built in the late 1800s that remain a tourist attraction today. It stands 93 feet tall, has 114 steps, and is built with a total of 370,000 bricks. Although the lighthouse still serves to guide ships, it’s also open for tours.
But beyond the natural features (not to downplay the massive cliffs, heaving surf, or untouched beaches) there’s a flurry of animal activity to enjoy. In the spring and summertime visitors gather to watch thousands of nesting seabirds take refuge in the area. And it’s a prime location for gray whale watching as the creatures make their annual migration to Mexico (late fall-early winter) and Alaska (late winter-early spring).
The Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area is only about three miles from Newport. Start your visit by stopping at the Interpretive Center to learn more about the area before heading out to explore. The fee is $7/vehicle for a 3-day pass, but those on foot or bike can enter free.