Photo guide to Newport on the Oregon Coast
This is part of my Photo Location Guide series. To see them all, visit this page.
You could spend a lot of time photographing the Oregon coast. Not only is there spectacular coastal scenery but you've got harbors, lighthouses, festivals, small towns, bridges, and more.
Most of the sea stacks are along the southern end of the coast, around Bandon, but the Newport area probably has the most diversity.
You'll find two highly photogenic lighthouses plus one that's interesting but not that exciting. There are places for sweeping views of the coastline, dramatic waves, harbors with nets and crab pots, whale watching and a world class aquarium. Not to mention, if you like seafood, you won't find it any fresher.
There are plenty of hotels in Newport as well as camping at state parks both north and south. If camping, I can highly recommend the Oregon State Parks campgrounds. They have hookups for RVs, some have yurts and cabins and all of them have showers. North of Newport is Beverly Beach State Park. I've stayed there a couple of times. It's wonderful. South of Newport is South Beach State Park.
Newport is a good sized town so you'll find all you need.
Following is a list of a few photo sites for you to visit. Distances are based from the intersection of Hwy 20 and Hwy 101.
South of Newport
Seal Rock State Park, 9.2 miles south
Sea stacks and a long beach. If winter storms have stripped the beach of sand you'll find some awesome sandstone. The small forest area near the parking lot can be magical in fog. Be sure to walk the trail along the top in addition to walking along the beach. A quarter mile or so south of the main parking lot is wide turn out in the road. This is a good spot for a beach overview.
Yachats, 24 miles south (Pronounced Yaw-hots)
Small town with a nice little wine shop. Good town to stop for dinner on the way south to Heceta Head. There's a covered bridge inland from Yachats. Look for the Yachats Rive Road. Follow for 7 miles, turn left on North Fork Yachats River Road and follow for 1.4 miles.
Yachats Ocean Road SP, 24.4 miles south
Side road just past Yachats that follows the coast line for a short distance. Great spot for waves.
Cape Perpetua, 26.5 miles south (about 45 minutes)
So much here. Drive to the top of Cape Perpetua for an amazing view.
The rocky coast has a few turn-outs. You'll find the Devil's Churn here.
Just past the visitors center you'll find parking right before a bridge. Here is where you'll find the famous Thor's Well as well as the Spouting Horn. Be very, very careful here. Know the tides and take the time to observe the waves and get a feel for what they do before you set up your gear. Thor's Well has been known to swallow camera gear and soak photographers. Be very, very careful.
Strawberry Hill (MP 169.4), 28 miles south
Haul out location for Harbor seals. Low tide can be good for tide pool critters too.
You'll need a long lens for the seals as they haul out on the rocks just off shore. Be sure you don't approach too closely.
Heceta Head Lighthouse viewpoint,38.5 miles south (about an hour)
Most photographed lighthouse on the coast. Great sunset location. Can also be a great early light location too. Actually not so early. Maybe mid-morning, depending on the time of year.
There are also shots to be had from the Lighthouse itself. The turnoff to the parking area is just before you get to the viewpoint (if coming from Newport). It's a short walk up to the lighthouse. You may have seen pictures taken from behind and above the lighthouse. You'll figure out how to get there.
Sea Lion Caves, just beyond Heceta Head viewpoint
This tourist trap is a tourist trap worth getting trapped in. It's really cool. Might make sense to avoid the weekends. Pay the entrance fee and walk around outside for a bit. There are views looking straight down, often looking at a mass of sea lions lounging on the rocks.
Take the elevator down to the caves. Last time I checked, tripods are allowed. I took mine. It's dark inside so you'll want one. HDR works great here. If you've got the time to wait, the afternoon light coming in to the main haul out area in the cave can be really nice.
You'll also see a fossilized sea lion and at the north end of the cave is an opening looking right at the Heceta Head Lighthouse.
North of Newport
Agate Beach turn off, 1.9 miles north
Pleasant place for a sunset. If you've exhausted other possibilities, be sure to check it out.
Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area and Lighthouse turn off, 2.7 miles north
A must visit location. Good for early and late light. 8 a.m to sunset. Though I seem to remember the gates opening at 7 a.m. in the summer. Be sure to check first. This is fee area. If you have a National Parks or Federal Recreation Lands pass, those will work.
Though the Lighthouse is the main draw for photographers, don't neglect the cobble beach below the parking lot. Just follow the trail. The hill rising behind the parking lot also offers some different views. I suggest visiting for both early light and late light.
Moolack Beach parking, 4.7 miles north
A long beach with a view of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse in the distance.
Otter Rock Loop/Devil’s Punchbowl turn off, 7.3 miles north
Devil's Punchbowl is tough to photograph from the parking lot. Probably best done at high tide. Or in a storm. If you're there at low tide you can actually walk down into the Punchbowl. Walk down C Street two blocks. A trail to the left leads to the beach. Be careful and know the tides!
Also at the Devil's Punchbowl is Mo's chowder house. And then there's the Flying Dutchman Winery. You could really just make an afternoon of it.
The view from The Lookout at Cape Foulweather is one of the best on the coast. Just keep on the Otter Crest road, you'll get there.
Depoe Bay, 12.7 miles north
Depoe Bay boasts the World's Smallest Harbor. It's a fun little town to walk about it. At the north end is a spouting whale sculpture. Depoe Bay is also where you'll want to jump on a whale watching trip.
Boiler Bay State Park, 13.9 miles north
If you've got the time, pull into Boiler Bay State Park and look around. Seagulls really seem to like it here.
Fogarty Beach, 15 miles north
There's actually a sort of sea stack here. Park and follow the trail along the creek to the beach.
Right in Newport
Yaquina Harbor and Old Town Newport
The harbor is wonderful on foggy mornings. Be sure to also visit after sunset. The first half hour of twilight produces deep blue skies. The lights on the boats can create dramatic starbursts. Use a small aperture opening for starbursts. This is all public dock so feel free to roam.
Old Town is a smorgasbord for the travel photographer in you. Lots to see. Grab the camera, or just your phone, and wander.
Just east of the main harbor you'll find a big parking area that's chock full of crab pots and nets and more. Don't miss it, you'll love it.
Yaquina Bay State Park, Follow road through Old Town Newport under bridge. Follow signs.
Good views of the bridge.
This is where the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse is. During the day, the gate to the Lighthouse is open and you can get closer to photograph or take a tour.
There's a small parking area near the bridge with a trail down to the beach. You can walk under the bridge to get views. Worth a look.
Oregon Coast Aquarium, take either the first right or first left after south end of Yaquina Bay Bridge. Follow the signs.
World class aquarium. Get there when it opens and go straight to the Puffin aviary. You'll not find a better spot to get Puffin portraits.
Be sure to visit the Passages of the Deep. Use a wide angle lens here. You'll need a tripod. Don't forget to take video here as well. Very cool.
Inside the Rocky Shores exhibit is a great place to get some easy tide pool critter images.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium is amazing. Take your time, wander around, and enjoy!
Starbucks: Just north of the Hwy 20/101 intersection on the east side of the road.
Right across the street is the Thriftway and its wonderful selection of wines!