From Seaside, Oregon to Pacific City frigid waves beat against the Oregon Coast on 362 miles of open beach. Unlike Washington State, the entire Oregon coastline is public. Northwest coastal waves gather their energy rolling down the Gulf of Alaska. With its uneven coastline and facing north, south and west, there are reliable good surfing waves no matter the wind direction. With coves, headlands and curved beaches there is a wide variety of waves to choose from depending on the weather and time of year.
Regardless of the time of year, dawn will find surfing ninjas riding the swells in their wetsuits waiting for the perfect wave. They are hard core local skiers out at dawn to catch some waves before work. If a perfect storm at sea creates optimum waves, it is not uncommon to see the sign “Out surfing, back later” on the door of smaller local businesses.
In the summer the waves are smaller, ranging from knee high to head high, so beginner and intermediate surfers can enjoy the waves. Some of the coves, such as Short Sands, are so broad and curved that there are smaller swells on one end increasing to larger swells for intermediate surfers. Beginners will want to check out Seaside Beach, Short Sands at Oswald West State Park and Indian Beach at Ecola State Park, which was also the location in The Goonies, Point Break and Twilight. The water is always frigid cold, so you will need a full wet suit. You can rent everything you need at the local shops for about $40.00.
Winter brings the tremendous waves that more advanced and experienced surfers look for. The Nelscott Reef Big Wave Classic event is sponsored by Lincoln City and has a sister event in Hawaii. It runs over the winter and big wave athletes are given three days notice when a XXL wave is headed in. The minimum size is 30 foot. Ridable waves have reached up to 60 feet. Riders are judged on specific parts of the ride. Last year the event did not take place for the first time as the big waves did not roll in. This year extreme surfers will be on alert from October to March. Sponsors and organizers are confident the big wave will come.
Expert level waves can be found any time of the year, but surfers will have to watch weather reports and follow surfer alerts to track down the biggest, baddest waves.
All of the Oregon beaches have lush vegetation and stark breathtaking rocks and cliffs. That combined with the uncrowded beaches and reliable wave patterns, make Oregon an ideal place for surfing for those who don’t mind donning a wetsuit.