Oregon: it’s not just hipsters and vegan coffee shops. It’s easy to stereotype the entire state based on a few popular depictions of Portland, but in reality, Oregon has so much more to offer. That’s especially true if you’re a surfer. The state features well over 360 miles of coastline, with consistent waves and beautiful beaches that will appeal to any surfer, from fresh beginner to rugged expert. And yes, you can still visit a quirky bookstore or hip restaurant or two while you’re in Portland, but you’re probably better served to visit a Portland surf shop, check the tide charts, and start waxing your surfboard. So next time you find yourself headed to the Pacific Northwest, pack your surf wetsuits and head to one of these three top places to surf in Oregon.
Any surf odyssey to Portland should start at Otter Rock. It’s a classic, and popular surf spot. Much of its magic comes from the fact that the break is sheltered from the wind and swells by its eponymous rock. Otter Rock is a huge wall of rock that breaks the wind, and errant waves, and keeps the surf at the beach breaking clean and consistent. Otter Rock gets a wide variety of wave sizes. At the smaller end, it’s often breaking around two feet, with clean, long waves, perfect for beginners. However, during big days, clean waves up to eight feet high can form. Make sure to pack extra surf fins so you can quickly swap them depending on what the conditions demand.
Most often, the waves at Otter Rock are somewhere in the middle of that spectrum size-wise, big enough for experienced surfers to have fun and find a challenge, but small enough that they’re not scary or dangerous for beginners. Because the waves at Otter Rock are so consistent and clean, there are often plenty of people there surfing on days when the weather is good. However, the break is big enough that even large crowds can spread out and find an area to work. A surf spot can rarely appeal to such a wide range of skill sets, but Otter Rock proves that it’s possible.
Lincoln City might just be one of the premier surf cities in Oregon. It’s home to over seven miles of surfable beach and has plenty of shops that can help you with a rental if you don’t feel like traveling with your surfboard. Most folks who visit Lincoln City to surf spend their time exploring its beach breaks, complete with small to medium-sized waves that usually average around three to four feet tall.
Those beach breaks are great if that’s what you’re looking for. But, if you’re hunting for big waves, cast your eyes just a mile offshore to Nelscott Reef. Out at the reef winter swells bring huge, perfect waves that keep big wave aficionados flocking back year after year. The reef regularly produces up to fifty-foot waves that break cleanly in deep water near the reef. So whether you’re looking for a fun, safe, small break to hone your skills, or you want to surf some of the biggest waves in the world, Lincoln city has you covered.
The last surf spot on this list is also the most consistent. Agate Beach is blessed with a variety of features that make it possible to find just about any kind of wave you’re looking for. Most of that is because it’s protected from northern winds by a large point. This means that it’s possible to surf clean barrels at Agate on windy days where many other surf spots get chopped up and ugly.
The surfing at Agate primarily takes place on the beach break, with clean lefts and rights coming in consistently. Occasionally a larger swell will hit and make for some challenging surfing, but in general, the waves here are perfect for an average intermediate surfer.
So stop browsing the web and thinking about surfing in Oregon and just book a trip. Check out these three surf spots, and maybe try a vegan burger or some fair trade coffee. No matter what a discerning surfer is looking for, they can find it in Oregon.