Five Oregon Coast Port Towns To Experience
By Erin J. Bernard
Published: 10/07/2015  Updated: 08/17/2019
Photo by Gary Hayes

Giant ships cruise by on their way to sea, fisherman return with their bounties, dollies putter back and forth carrying fishing boats and whales swim past, oblivious to all the action on shore. Look no further to find the best of Oregon's port towns, travel destinations in their own right.

ASTORIA: Best Ship Watching

Especially beautiful at sunset, dramatic views await in Fort Stevens State Park at the South Jetty viewing platform, where the Columbia River meets the ocean. Or just enjoy the show from right inside your car at the Hammond Marina Seafarers' Park, where the shipping channel runs close to shore. The Maritime Memorial Park offers close-up viewpoints for watching ship traffic and paying homage to lives lost at sea.

NEWPORT: Largest Working Waterfront

Newport, the Dungeness Crab Capital of the World and proud home of the West Coast's largest commercial fishing fleet, remains a busy hub of maritime activity where hungry locals and tourists have been eating like kings along the popular waterfront for two centuries. Here, fresher-than-fresh seafood markets coexist happily alongside galleries, gift shops, restaurants and a spread of fun family attractions, including the world-famous Oregon Coast Aquarium.

DEPOE BAY: The Small Harbor

Claiming to be the smallest harbor in the world, at just 5.5 acres, Depoe Bay is certainly big on charm. For years a safe harbor for commercial fishing boats taking refuge from coastal storms, it's now a homeport and stopping point for all types of vessels and a point of interest for visitors who stand along the seawall to not only watch the nautical action or look for Gray Whales but also to admire the artistic Depoe Bay Bridge before heading off to explore beautiful Depoe Bay City Park.

CHARLESTON: The Classic Fishing Town

This quaint little village, located just eight miles from Coos Bay, is the perfect gateway to outdoor adventure, on land or off. A friendly marina offers charter boats, fishing and crabbing or you can skip the work and visit the market operating right out of Fisherman's Wharf and take your pick from an array of fresh-caught seafood. They'll even clean and cook your dinner for you! Further afield, miles of beautiful beaches, rambling state parks, and scads of pristine scenery await.

PORT ORFORD: Most Unique Port

Famed for its spectacular ocean views, Port Orford (shown above) is Oregon's only natural open-water port. It's also just one of six "dolly" ports in the world. Watch in amazement as working fishing boats are lifted in and out of the water on massive hoists throughout the day. At Battle Rock State Park, pick your trail: down to the sandy beach or straight up to the top of the Battle Rock itself, where breezy, expansive views of the Pacific Ocean greet you.
Five Oregon Coast Port Towns To Experience