Dunes and damn good chowder, from Oceanside to Brookings
• Height of tallest dunes, Oregon Dunes: 400 feet
• Average July water temperature, Newport: 55°F
• Size of find sand grain: 0.07 TO 0.4 MM
Oregon's beaches usually have three things in common: Sand -lots of it, wider than summer's waves can wash. Weather - from graymists to epic tempests, though storms generally take a vacationJuly through September, leaving breezy, dry days to beach-sit. Andaccess - by law, it's really easy to reach the beach in Oregon. Sowhat are you waiting for?
Roseanna's is the best restaurant in town, and probably would beeven if it weren't the only one in town. Decorated like youreccentric aunt's beachfront cottage, with a view nearly to Japan.Seafood's the theme, prepared every which way but deep-fried.
1490 Pacific Ave. Entrées $6.00-$20.00. (503) 842-7351.
BEST BEACHSIDE CAMPING
Cape Lookout State Park, Tillamook
Far from the rush of U.S. 101, Cape Lookout State Park isnestled between Netarts Spit and jutting Cape Lookout. From yourcampsite, stroll north to the tip of the sandy spit, hike south andwest to the cape's end ... or just grab a blanket and binocularsand stay put.
On Whiskey Creek Rd. $22 tent-only sites, $26 sites withhookups, $33 yurts. Reservations: (800) 452-5687. Information:(800) 551-6949; www.oregonstateparks.org.
BEST BEACH RETREAT
Salishan Lodge, Gleneden Beach
Let it rain. When you're at Salishan Lodge, it's all the excuseyou need to nest in your artful room, or browse the gallery, orenjoy a memorable dinner in the lodge. Granted, it's not right onthe beach; drive two minutes, or follow the nature trail betweenthe golf course and Siletz Bay to Salishan Spit.
On U.S. 101 in Gleneden Beach. $189-$269. (800) 452-2300.
MOST ROMANTIC BEACH
Nye Beach, Newport
SWF, Sagittarius, seeks soul mate to share candlelit dinners,intimate B & B weekends, and moonlit walks on Nye Beach. We'llstroll on stars of phosphorescence, while beams from the lighthousedance upon the black water. The moon is full July 24; will you bethere?
From U.S. 101 just north of U.S. 20, follow signs to NyeBeach.
BEST HISTORIC B & B
Heceta Head Lighthouse, Yachats
Between the four-poster bed and thick comforter, and the roar ofthe surf that lulls - nay, pummels - you to sleep, it's hard toimagine how a lightkeeper ever left his bed to tend that whale-oillamp. Five bedrooms and seven-course breakfasts greet travelers inthe 106-year-old keepers' quarters below Heceta HeadLighthouse.
BEST CHOWDER AT THE BEACH
Ruby Begonia's, Florence
After a day beachcombing at South Jetty, roll in to RubyBegonia's, at the junction of U.S. 101 and State 126. Order chefJosé Garcia's specialty: golden seafood chowder. Garcia hasredefined Oregon chowder, adding salmon, halibut, and prawns to thestandard clams, and lightening up on the cornstarch.
1565 Ninth St. (541) 997-1821.
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
Tidepools are intriguing, headlands inspiring, but beaches meansand, and nowhere in the coastal United States will you find alarger stash of it than in the 40 miles stretching the river mouthsat Florence and Coos Bay. Hike, bird-watch, or just gaze; plenty ofopportunities for any of that right off U.S. 101.
ODNRA headquarters, U.S. 101 and State 38, Reedsport. (541)902-8526.
BEST SWIMMING BEACH
Sunset Bay State Park
A small, shallow bay, protected from big breakers, with noresident riptides: the combination makes Sunset Bay the mostswimmable spot on the Oregon coast. Granted, you wouldn't call thewater warm--just not completely inhospitable for wading. Take careif you do take the plunge: no lifeguards are waiting to pull youout.
13 miles southwest of Coos Bay on Cape Arago Hwy. (541)888-4902; www.oregonstateparks.org.
Between Bandon and Cape Blanco lie miles of uninterrupted beach,backed by grassy dunes and shore pines. In 15 years, state trailscoordinator Pete Bond has never run into another person on thebeach here. Never. Walk south from Bandon, or drive south to thecounty park at Floras Lake, cross the dunes south of New River, andcontinue west 1/2 mile over the dunes to the beach.
From Langlois, 13 miles south of Bandon, follow signs 3 miles toBoice Cope County Park. (541) 247-3306.
BEST BEACH TO GET A TAN
We know tanning isn't PC. But you might want to know that thebeach in and around Brookings, on the far southern coast, has moresunshine and can be 20° warmer than beaches just 10 miles tothe north or south. Something about the coastline's curve, andclouds dissipating when prevailing winds blow them over the land.Whatever. Just don't forget the SPF 30.
Brookings Harbor Chamber of Commerce: (800) 535-9469.