Post Summary: All the best things to do around Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City, Oregon
Craving an adventurous stop on your Oregon coast road trip? Don’t let Pacific City pass you by!
Pacific City is home to Cape Kiwanda, one of the most beautiful beaches on the Oregon coast. Here, you can take some good old fashioned long walks on the beach, or get a little more adventurous in the state natural area nearby. No matter what your adventure level is, there’s definitely something for you here!
In this post, we’re sharing Cape Kiwanda accommodations, awesome activities, best photo spots and more to make your experience on the Oregon Coast one to remember for years.
Let’s get started!
10 Epic Adventures To Take Near Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City, Oregon
Planning a bigger trip along the Oregon Coast? Here are more blog posts you will find helpful!
- The Perfect Oregon Coast Road Trip Itinerary
- 26 Incredible Oregon Coast Hikes
- The Best Oregon Photography Locations For Travel Photographers
- All The Coolest Spots On The Southern Oregon Coast
- Make it a bigger trip: Copy our Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Itinerary!
1. Have a Beach Bonfire
One of the coolest ways to end an evening at Cape Kiwanda is by having a beach bonfire on the Oregon Coast.
Cannon Beach and Seaside, Oregon also provide this fun way to gather on the beach, but it comes with important safety regulations to follow!
Curious about beach bonfire regulations? Here is information about bonfires on the neighboring Cannon Beach, but we suggest chatting with your local host or accommodations to get the most up-to-date information.
2. Get Beer and Lunch at Pelican Brewing
Pelican Brewing Company is a local brewery, with the fitting tagline “born at the beach.” Established in 1996, this young and passionate company has expanded to many other locations along the Oregon coast, including Tillamook, Cannon Beach, and soon, Siletz Bay.
We especially love this Pacific City location, for its ample outdoor seating with incredible views. You can enjoy your meal beachside and savor the best burger and beer combos on the coast. Really, it’s some of the best we’ve ever had!
3. Hike to the Top Of The Dune
One of the major features of the Cape Kiwanda Natural Scenic Area is the large dune, accessible from the north side of the public beach. This 240-foot sand dune looks like an easy walk up to the top, but it’s a fickle friend!
It’s pretty steep but completely worth the tough climb. Once at the top, you have views in nearly all directions, from southern views of Bob Straub State Park to the northern view of McPhillips Beach. This is one of the easiest Oregon coast hikes to access (despite the steepness) because the parking lot is just down the hill!
From here, you can do some exploring around the sand dunes, but keep your eye out for posted warning signs. These signs are to be followed at all times, preventing you from straying too close to the fragile edges of these cliffs. People have died here from venturing too close to the edge, so pay attention to these warnings seriously!
Love sand dunes? Explore the Coastal Oregon dunes and more cool things to do in Coos Bay, Oregon!
4. Watch Hang Gliders / Paragliders Soar To McPhillips Beach
Once you have climbed to the top of the sand dune just north of Cape Kiwanda beach, you can turn inland and find the secret hotspot for hang gliders and paragliders.
Here, they take advantage of the coastal wind and expansive beachfront to launch themselves in the air and sail down to the beach.
It’s really fun to watch, and by sitting at the top, you get to watch a fun show and enjoy views of the northside McPhilips Beach, which is also part of Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area.
5. Explore Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area (low tide only)
Probably one of the most iconic Oregon photography spots in the entire state is here in Cape Kiwanda, only accessible by low tide.
This unnamed arch (at least for us – please drop the name in the comments if you know!) is located on the north side of the cliffs, with access either from a long walk down via McPhillips Beach or a strenuous hike up and over the Cape Kiwanda sand dune.
You can find it tucked in between tall sandstone cliffs on the ocean’s edge, where you’ll need to climb over some large boulders to get a good view of the arched rock. It’s a pretty spectacular view, and one of our favorite spots on the Oregon Coast.
It’s most accessible during low tide, so save this link to the Pacific City tide tables. We DO NOT recommend visiting this spot during high tide – not only because it’s inaccessible but also dangerous. The boulders and coves prevent you from seeing sneaker waves, and there is a high chance of getting stranded or stuck if you aren’t careful. Be safe!
6. Watch the Dory Boats Launch and Land On Shore
One of the things that Pacific City is most known for is their Dory boats, a historic fishing fleet that’s provided the area with food for over 100 years. They often fish for salmon, Dungeness crab, albacore tuna and rockfish. They are flat-bottomed and open hulled, making it a wild and wet adventure on rainy or stormy days.
Nowadays, you can board a dory boat for a fun day tour, and they’ll take you back and forth to share some stories and history of the Pacific City area. The coolest part of these boats? These boats are paddled into the surf for launch, and for landing, they gun it full speed onto shore until friction stops them on the sand. It’s pretty cool to watch!
To navigate a Dory boat is the badge of skilled seamen (or dorymen!). They are often the first ones out for emergency response and know how to handles the roughest of Northwest seas.
7. Stay Overnight Near Cape Kiwanda
Some of the coolest accommodations are steps away from the beach! From gorgeous resorts, cozy vacation rentals, and an accessible campground, there’s a Cape Kiwanda accommodation for nearly every budget. Here are our suggestions:
Camping Near Cape Kiwanda
Cape Kiwanda RV Park, Webb County Campground, and the Pacific City RV & Camping Resort are all nearby the beach. Want more reviews of these campgrounds? Download the app The Dyrt to see pictures, reviews, and amenities available for a more complete explanation. Love the app? Try their pro membership free for 30 days when using our code MANDAGIES!
Cape Kiwanda Hotels and Resorts
The Inn at Cape Kiwanda: This boutique ocean view hotel is steps away from the beach, and walking distance from all the cute shops in Pacific City!
The Headlands Lodge: is perched atop the cliffside, and every single room has a view of the beach right outside their window. It’s a pretty incredible place to stay, perfect for a romantic weekend in.
Vacation Rentals Near Pacific City, OR
Some of favorite Cape Kiwanda vacation rentals include:
- Option 1: Entire home, with easy access right onto the beach
- Option 2: Cozy house within walking distance to the beach and Pacific City shops. Private parking so you don’t have to worry about the beach lot getting full!
- Option 3: Cozy and affordable house just a 1/2 block away from McPhillips Beach north of Cape Kiwanda. Quiet space!
8. Explore Bob Straub State Park
9. Drive The Three Capes Scenic Loop (Cape Kiwanda, Cape Meares, Cape Lookout)
Cape Kiwanda is one of the three capes on Oregon’s Three Capes Scenic Route. The others include Cape Meares and Cape Lookout, however, Cape Kiwanda is by the far the most popular and easily accessible beach for some Oregon coast pictures. Spend the morning of afternoon seeing all of these iconic stops!
10. Drive Your Car On The Beach (Prohibited: Updated June 2020)
We’re leaving this up to inform you that parking on the beach is no longer allowed, despite it being the norm for decades.
As of June 1st, 2020, only boat launching vehicles are allowed to enter the beach area, and all other visitor cars must park in the parking area. This is because the presence of excess cars meant that “traffic patterns have grown to the point that visitor experience is now diminished and has created a very unsafe condition” according to Stateman Journal Article by Zach Urness.
Do you have your heart set on driving along the beach? There are a few spots on the Oregon Coast that allow cars on the beach. Some sections of the Oregon Dunes, Gleneden Beach, Lincoln Beach, and Depoe Bay, all have beach access. Some Washington beaches also have car access, one of the best ones being on Long Beach.
Craving More Fun Adventures On The West Coast?
Cape Kiwanda is just the start of all the fun things to do in the Pacific Northwest! If you want to plan a trip to the PNW, here are other nearby destinations to consider adding to your itinerary:
The Olympic Peninsula: Use our 5-day Olympic Peninsula Road trip route and see all the best places in the Olympic National Park, including these Washington beaches, epic hikes (like Mount Storm King Trail) and even camping on the beach at La Push.
Eastern Oregon: The eastern side of the state is full of hidden desert gems, from Leslie Gulch in the Owyhee Wilderness to the Pillars of Rome in Jordan Valley. See them all on this complete Eastern Oregon road trip starting and finishing in Bend, Oregon.
Portland, Oregon: The city of Portland is a dream for foodies, coffee lovers, and artisan shops. Stay in the city for access to the best restaurants, but take some of these epic day trips from Portland for your nature fix!
Eugene, Oregon: Eugene has the best of both worlds, two hours from the coast, and two hours from the mountains! Take these day trips from Eugene to see the best of the area. Coming in the colder months? Here are some fun things to do in Eugene in the winter.
Seattle, Washington: The biggest city in Washington is also home to some of the state’s coolest nearby adventures! There are countless amazing hikes to do in Washington, and plenty of weekend getaways from Seattle to custom fit your adventurous trip.