Depoe Bay is on the Oregon coast, around mile marker 128 on U.S. Highway 101. It’s about 70 miles west of the state capital of Salem, and 100 miles southwest of Portland, Oregon’s largest city. The town is home to the smallest navigable harbor in the world and is still a fishing village, although these days the Oregon coast is becoming more known for tourism. Depoe Bay is a destination for both out-of-state vacationers and Oregon natives, thanks to its beautiful beaches and variety of marine life.
Depoe Bay is not an ideal swimming spot, but it’s still a family favorite for its rocky beaches, tide pools and whale-watching.
Getting Here & Around
The nearest major airport is in Portland, which accepts flights from all over the United States, and a few international locations, on a daily basis. From Portland, you will need to rent a car and drive to Depoe Bay. Take U.S. Interstate 5 south to Oregon State Route 99W. At McMinnville, 99W turns into Oregon State Route 18, Salmon River Highway, which runs directly into Highway 101 at Lincoln City. Take Highway 101 south approximately 12 miles into Depoe Bay.
Facing the Pacific Ocean, with the Oregon Coastal Range mountains at its back, Depoe Bay has a relatively cool and damp climate for most of the year. Even when central Oregon is at its hottest, the coastal region is generally cool, and during the winter months, rarely freezes. The biggest tourism season for the area is summer, particularly July and August, when crowds of people flock to the beaches. Holiday weekends in the warmer months see standstill traffic in otherwise sleepy Depoe Bay. Reservations during the summer are a must, as accommodations can book up quickly.
The waters of Depoe Bay are spectacular, with the sea shooting up into 60-foot-high “spouting horns” on a regular basis. The water plumes up right near the bay’s sea wall, offering spectacular photo opportunities. Depoe Bay is also one of the biggest whale-watching spots on the Oregon coast, with a pod of whales making their home immediately off shore for a weeks in March and December each year. The Whale Watching Center (whalespoken.org) offers talks and information at the various whale-watching sights around Depoe Bay. Visitors also enjoy the area’s beaches, deep-sea fishing, and hiking. Note that Oregon’s waters are usually too cold for comfortable swimming, even in summer; however, on very hot days some hardy people will take a dip to cool off — or don wetsuits for surfing and bodyboarding.
Hotels and inns are available throughout the town, although they are, for the most part, on the small side. You won’t find any major resorts here. Bed and breakfasts are also scattered throughout the area, as are rental properties, such as cabins and chalets. Camping is available at the state parks in the area. Contact the Oregon Coast Visitors Association (visittheoregoncoast.com) for assistance in finding accommodations in Depoe Bay.
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