Explore 6 Wonderful Tide Pools Around Newport, Oregon

People head to Newport, Oregon for several reasons beyond its stunning views of the Pacific: it’s famous for the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Yaquina Bay, which promises an up-close look at local marine life via underwater walkways and a seabird aviary. Then, nearby, you have the iconic Yaquina Bay Bridge with its two observation areas. But outside the city, Oregon’s 362-mile coastline boasts numerous sand-and-rock headlands to explore, where every day the retreating tides reveal some of the same marine life you’ll pay to see in the Aquarium, at home in their natural habitats – the tide pools.

Tide pools can be found all along the rocky Pacific coastline, but Oregon’s offerings top our list of favorites. Ranging in depth, size and landscape, tide pools give explorers of all ages the chance to glimpse an underwater world right on your doorstep – from waving anemones, spiky urchins, brightly colored sea stars and scuttling crabs…and if you’re lucky you’ll also get to spot whales on the horizon and seals on the beach too!

Read on for our choice of the 6 best beaches to go tide pooling near Newport, Oregon, what to expect, and how to be safe and responsible around the wildlife you’re about to meet. When you’re done, have a look at the best tide pools in Santa Cruz and Bodega Bay in California for more tide pool fun! 

Before we start, let’s have a look at exactly what a tide pool is.

What Is A Tide Pool?

Tidepools are depressions in rock, or spaces between rocks, that catch and hold seawater when the tide goes out – a twice-a-day period called low tide. Rock pools have been divided by experts into several zones. Sea life like acorn barnacles, which can exist out of the water for long periods, are found in the spray zone, higher up the beach. Other animals like purple sea urchins prefer to be covered by water and are found in the low tide zone further out to sea. This is where you should start exploring, as low tide only lasts around an hour, and when those waves start rolling back in, the low tide zone is a dangerous place to be and you can end up stranded!

Tide pool sea life. Source: stateparks.oregon.gov

When Is The Best Time To Explore Tide Pools Near Newport, Oregon?

Tide pools only get revealed when the tide goes out every morning and afternoon – until then, they are hidden underwater. The pull of the moon and sun on the earth is what causes the tide to come and go. The best low tides are what scientists call “negative” – which is when the tide pulls out furthest from the coast. These happen in the early morning in spring, and in the afternoon in late fall and winter. Check low tide times with local surfing, boating and other marine businesses, or search online before you head out on your adventure.

TIP: Try to get to the beach an hour before low tide so you get some time to look around while the tide is still going out. You’ll then have about an hour after the designated low tide, at which point the tide will start to flow back in. Always keep your eyes on the waves and the time so you don’t get stuck out there!

A green sea anemone. Photo by RachelRoamsAround

What Can I See In The Newport, Oregon Tide Pools?

Tide pools are a magical underwater world far removed from our own, with sea creatures in a constant battle for survival as they are swept this way and that by the tides, in water that is sometimes deep and cool, at other times shallower and saltier as the sun evaporates it. 

On the Oregon coast, you can expect to see tide pools packed with shelled animals like prettily decorated chiton, bunches of mussels, barnacles, limpets, hermit crabs and periwinkle snails (watch where you tread so you don’t crush them!), spiky, purple sea urchins, gently waving green sea anemones, red trumpet tubeworms, and masses of bright orange, pink and red sea stars. There’ll also be purple shore crabs scuttling over the sand and peeking out from under the rocks. See if you can spot the Oregon Cancer Crab, eels, or Tidepool Sculpin.

Tide Pooling Safety Tips

A safety sign in Oregon. Photo by Robby G C

Tidepools attract thousands of visitors every year, and too many visitors can damage these precious areas. All it takes is a careless step to crush or trample an innocent sea creature, or to get injured yourself! If you remove the animals from their homes, or move the rocks they shelter under, they will be exposed to predators as well as the hot sun. We must treat tidepools gently if they are to continue existing for others to enjoy, so before we share Newport, Oregon’s top tide pool beaches with you, have a look at our safety tips:

  • Enjoy watching, but don’t touch – Some of the sea life is delicate, and others may well pinch or stab you. Just enjoy watching how they live without putting your hands in the way. And no, they don’t need rescuing or putting back in the sea – nature has them right where they are supposed to be!
  • Watch the tide – those waves can sneak in on you, and they can come fast and drag you out to sea or cut you off from the land if you’re not careful!
  • Choose surfer boots, tennis shoes or sports shoes with a good grip so you don’t slip or cut your feet on the rocks. 
  • Dress for the weather. The Pacific can be cold and windy – and you will get wet!

Newport, Oregon’s tide pools are a must-see for all ages, too often overlooked by tourists who head to the Aquarium instead. Don’t be one of them. Check out our choice of the 6 best tide pool beaches near Newport below.

1. Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area

Yaquina Head and lighthouse. Photo by MyItchyTravelFeets

To the north of Newport, off Highway 101, Yaquina Head is a mile-long black-sand/rock beach that borders a protected natural area offering a plethora of fun outdoor activities – from hiking and biking to picnicking and tide pooling. Definitely worth a stop before or after you visit the tide pools is the interpretation center and beautiful lighthouse with its Fresnel lens. Just below that lighthouse is Cobble Beach. Get there at low tide and you’ll be in for a real treat. Be aware, though, that this is a popular tide pooling spot, so it can get busy, especially on the weekends! 

While you’re looking for the animals we mentioned above, don’t forget to look up too – there will be cormorants and Western Gulls flying around catching fish, Peregrine Falcons roosting on the cliffs, and maybe you’ll be lucky enough to see some seals swimming around or sunning themselves on the rocks too! We’ve also heard of whales and dolphins being spotted out at sea on the best tide pooling days.

Don’t Miss…

  • The Gift Shop
  • The Visitor Center
  • The Lighthouse
  • A picnic on the beach (pack out what you pack in!)
  • A hike or bike on one of the many trails there

Good To Know

This place is popular, but there is plenty of parking to reflect it. Still, to avoid stress, get there early. Entrance costs $7 per car. 

The beach is open from 8am to 5pm, and the interpretive center from 10am to 4pm. 

There are restrooms on-site.

There are park rangers on duty should you need help or have a question to ask.

Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash.

2. Cape Perpetua Scenic Area

Cape Perpetua Scenic Area. Photo by Relayer

On the coastal side of the 2700-acre Siuslaw National Forest, 35 minutes south of Newport, the rocky Cape Perpetua offers so much fun and exploration, we almost forgot we were there to go tide pooling! This is one of those beaches that is best watched from a distance at high tide and only explored at low tide – it can get wild there! Check tide times at the Visitors Center before you head out, and as you explore, always have an eye to the sea. Watch out for sneaker waves and high tide spouting – people can get swept away very easily here.

Interesting History

The area has been inhabited for around 6000 years. The Native American Alsea people called this area Halaqaik, and when British explorer James Cook saw the headland in 1778, he named it for Saint Perpetua.

Many of the trails you can walk there were built by a unit of the Civilian Conservation Corps set up by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s.

Don’t Miss…

  • The Visitors Center
  • Driving up to the Cape Perpetua Lookout – 800 feet above sea level – for sunrise or sunset
  • Exploring the driftwood-packed Cape Cove inlet
  • Watching Thor’s Well and Spouting Horn spouting water an hour before high tide (be sure to stand well back and keep ahold of little ones – there was no guard rail when we last visited!). Spouting Horn can be viewed from Highway 101 and from a wheelchair accessible observation point on the Captain Cook Trail
  • The exploding waters of Devils Churn at high tide
  • A winter or spring whale-watch event
  • Any and all of the 26 miles of trails!

Good To Know

There is plenty of parking near the Visitors Center, and many of the trails start from there. Other destinations along the stretch of coast have their own small parking lots on the cliffs and stairs to walk down to the beach, such as Devils Churn, which has restrooms, a summer information station, a coffee shop and a wheelchair accessible viewpoint.

Open 6am – 10pm.

Day passes cost $5.

There are park rangers on duty should you need help or have a question to ask.

Camping is available if you want to stay longer.

Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash.

3. Seal Rock State Recreation Site

Seal Rock State Recreation Site. Photo by Daniel A

10 miles south of Newport is Seal Rock- a small, picturesque, family-oriented park boasting ocean views, a forest, and a clean, rocky beach. The rugged coastline is a photographer’s dream, while kids will love playing in the chilly tide pools and streams there while moms and dads set out the picnic supplies. 

Beyond the expected treasure trove of inhabited tide pools, you can rightly expect to see a few seals sunning themselves or swimming near the rocks. Take your binoculars along – there is a nice mix of birdlife to watch too!

Don’t Miss…

  • Ice cream from local vendors!
  • Hiking the trails through the area

Good To Know

There is free parking in a small lot, with restrooms nearby.

You can picnic on the beach (pack out what you pack in!) or use the picnic tables.

The trail to the beach is steep in some parts, but there is an ADA-accessible viewpoint halfway down with great ocean views and tide pools too. Use the official trail down (by the sign) for safety.

Book a local cottage if you want to stay there longer.

Dogs are allowed but need to be kept on a leash.

4. Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area

Source: stateparks.oregon.gov

One of the capes on the Three Capes Scenic Route (along with Cape Meares and Cape Lookout), Cape Kiwanda is a dramatic sandstone headland just north of Pacific City, carved by the wind and waves and offering one of the best viewpoints at the top of a towering dune. 

As sandstone is so fragile, the ocean is constantly resculpting it. That also means it is a crumbling hazard and can be dangerous to walk on. Seven people have died falling into the ocean and onto the rocks here since 2009, so let’s keep that number at seven and stay on the safe side of the fences you see there!

Cape Kiwanda’s beach is popular for kite flying, hang gliding and watching the open hulled and flat bottomed dory boats launch into the waves. Pacific City is home port to more than 300 of these traditional fishing vessels – there’s even an annual Dory Days Parade.

A dory boat. Photo by 2013TravelinFool

Don’t Miss…

  • A whale-watching tour between March and June, or mid-December to mid-January
  • A dory boat ride with a local fisherman
  • Picnicking on the Tierra Del Mar beach
  • Birdwatching – spot the brown pelicans and black oystercatchers
  • The Great Dune Trail, with a steep climb up a towering sand dune for the reward of panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and Nestucca Bay
  • Beachcombing for shells
  • Lunch or dinner in Pacific City

Good To Know

Tillamook County operates the parking lot on Hungry Harbor Road and charges $10 per day. It can fill up quickly, so it’s best to get there early.

There is no entrance fee to Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area. 

There are picnic tables, but you can also just eat on the beach (pack out what you pack in!).

Dogs are allowed, but they must be kept on a leash at all times.

5. Yachats State Recreation Area

Yachats State Recreation Area. Photo by Lady Gigglemug

30 minutes drive from Newport, in the town of Yachats, this State Recreation Area at the mouth of Yachats River is the perfect place for photographs and tide pooling. Aside from fellow tide-poolers, you’ll likely meet a lot of locals heading there to surf, kite surf and windsurf when the tide’s back in. The beach has plenty of trails to walk, and sandy-grassy areas for kids and dogs to safely enjoy. 

On the way down from the parking lot there is a viewing platform offering a 180-degree view of the ocean. Definitely take your binoculars along, as gray whales have been spotted here, as have seals.

Don’t Miss…

  • The observation deck with a 180-degree view
  • Reading the info boards as you walk around
  • A tour of the town, and lunch at one of its restaurants
  • Watching the sunset

Good To Know

There is plenty of free parking.

Restrooms and picnic tables are available.

The trail down to the beach from the observation deck is steep. Wear shoes with a good grip!

There are park rangers on duty should you need help or have a question to ask.

Dogs are allowed but need to be kept on a leash.

6. Strawberry Hill

Strawberry Hill. Photo by Robby G C.

5 miles south of Yachats and part of the 0.6-mile Neptune State Scenic Viewpoint, Strawberry Hill is a secluded rock terrace that offers both scenic views and a plethora of gorgeous tide pooling opportunities – at the bottom of the stairs down from the parking lot, turn left for beachcombing in the cove, or right to enjoy the narrow shoreline of volcanic ledges, caves and sand.

Don’t forget to look up – there may well be whales spouting off on the horizon or, nearer by, seals resting on the rocks, or turkey vultures feeding on their latest find! 

What makes the Strawberry Hill extra special is its location in the heart of a prime agate collecting area that stretches from Yachats for six miles south to the Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park. Look carefully on your visit between November and April, when the rough seas remove the top layers of sand, and the beach might offer up small pieces of agate, jasper, petrified wood, fossil shells, and numerous other interesting rocks. This is a marine reserve, so you should only pocket what’s on the surface and not dig down, lift rocks or otherwise do anything that might harm the local landscape or wildlife. A permit is needed to collect vertebrate fossils.

Don’t Miss…

  • Beachcombing
  • Rockhounding
  • Picnicking
  • Walking the trails

Good To Know

Limited parking is available on the cliff. The walk down to the beach is steep, but you can also access the area via the easier Bob’s Creek to the south.

There are accessible vault toilets.

Open 6am to 9pm.

Picnic tables are available, or you can pull up a seat on the rock – just watch out for sneaker waves and the tide rolling back in!

Dogs are allowed but need to be kept on a leash.

Tide Pool Rules

  • Don’t touch the animals! Picking up the tide pool sea creatures or putting them in buckets even for a little while can cause damage or stress that can kill them. They may also be harmed by bacteria or chemicals (from sunscreen, for example) from your skin.
  • Never pull on animals that are stuck to the rocks, or try to open closed shells.
  • Don’t move rocks, as this may disturb or hurt the creatures hiding underneath.
  • Walk with care around the tide pools, being careful not to step on plants or sea creatures there.
  • Take a trash bag with you to pick up any litter you find – and always pack out what you pack in!

The Takeaway

The coastal stretch of Oregon around Newport has some awe-inspiring sea life to discover on its rocky, tide pool beaches. Remember when you go to dress for the chilly, windy weather and hard rock surfaces, step with care, and respect what you are there to see- nature at its wild best, which needs our protection for future explorers to enjoy too!


While we at Traxplorio do our very best to give you the most up-to-date information, we always recommend you do your own research before you travel to a particular area, and check conditions with official sites. Thanks for understanding, and enjoy your adventure!

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