Updated April 8, 2019
You can see a lot of the incredible Oregon Coast from the shore. The Beaver State’s beaches offer jaw-dropping scenery — colossal headlands, crashing surf, sea stacks teeming with marine life — and its coastal trails wind their way through soaring forests to never-ending ocean vistas.
But there’s another way to get an even more unique glimpse of the coast, one that takes you much deeper in and invites you to explore in a way that not many do: sea cave kayaking in Oregon.
Essentially openings in coastal sea cliffs that the Pacific has eroded over eons, sea caves pockmark the entire length of the Oregon coastline, from scenic arches near Brookings to the caves of Cascade Head and beyond. Sea cave kayaking in Oregon can be a one-of-a-kind adventure and a fun and active way to see the coast in a whole new way.
How to Get Started Sea Cave Kayaking in Oregon
The Oregon Coast is known as much for its rugged beauty as it is for its pounding surf, deceptive tides and treacherous storms. Because of the latter, sea cave kayaking in Oregon is not an activity for the inexperienced. The best way to give it a try is to sign up for a tour with a professional company that specializes in these outings. Luckily you have options for sea cave kayaking in Oregon. Portland’s Alder Creek and South Coast Tours LLC operate on the southern Oregon Coast and Columbia River Kayaking provides tours in Skamokawa, Wash. Be sure to check with the operator about how advanced a trip may be and what level of experience they require for paddlers.
Most touring companies offer rental boats, paddles, helmets, dry suits and other essential gear. Other recommended gear and clothing includes sunglasses, water and food, a camera or cell phone and a waterproof holder for it, a headlamp and a dry change of clothes for after the tour.
Touring sea caves is usually done at low tides and when weather and water conditions are good. Guides will determine whether the conditions are safe enough for entering any caves.
Where to Go Sea Cave Kayaking in Oregon
Several spots have become well known for sea cave kayaking in Oregon.
One of the best is Cascade Head, a huge headland that juts out into the ocean north of Lincoln City. One option takes off from Knight Park and starts out on the Salmon River for about a mile before entering the Pacific and heading north to the base of Cascade Head about a half-mile farther. Caves along the headland range in size and often have walls peppered with starfish, barnacles and other sea creatures.
Columbia River Kayaking’s five-day “Coastal Capes” tour hits up several major coast landmarks over its length, including Cape Disappointment, Cape Falcon, Cascade Head, Cape Lookout and, weather and conditions depending, plenty of sea caves along the way.
South Coast Tours has a range of paddling trips that take in some of the southern Oregon Coast’s caves, arches and rock formations, including Orford Heads and the Arches Territory.