It’s still the 101, is the funny thing. But the coastline, it is a different seaboard entirely. Misty mountains and wind shaven sand dunes, they resemble something majestic, surreal even, sometimes. Other times they are forested and foundationally contrast the California Coast so fundamentally, it’s a trip. And an immediate reminder of why we take them.
Welcome to coastal Oregon. Where the puffins outnumber the people, the Douglas firs don’t wait for Christmas, and the driftwood decorates the sand like a set from something we are destined to desire.
Flying into Portland, we drove a not short four hours before arriving at Coos Bay, where we’d arrive at Bay Point Landing, a modern camping mecca answering the gentler call of the wild. For me, it was the ability to glamp beside a craggily coastline, sea and sand in sight, without sacrificing say, a Scandinavian aesthetic and chic design simplicity.
That’s if you want to stay in one of their cabins, which come in three fully furnished forms, Kamp Haus, Dune and Drift. If you’re looking to keep it cozy as a party of two, Kamp Haus, tiny little uprights, will meet the mark. The Drift cabins are the airiest, with an intent to fit four, they win most luxurious. But for those traveling with kids, I recommend the Dune cabin experience.
Why? Let’s start with the loft space. Kids perched up top, a private garret garnished with plush linens and two twin beds. Below a queen bed, a central living room with ample seating and dining space. And cover your ears camping purists, a TV with complimentary Netflix and Hulu. Listen. 2020 was rough. Let roughing it be whatever you need it to be.
To that end. There’s a clubhouse, architectural eye candy, braceleted by fire pits and terrace decking – the nucleus of the campsite. There’s an indoor heated saltwater pool (bayside) with ceiling to floor asymmetrical windows (luxe), a kids den, a fitness center (that includes a Peloton, should you arrive with a streak that can’t be broken) an event center, and activity room (complimentary coffee, shufflepuck, and giant Scrabble anyone?), immaculate laundry facilities (listen, camping’s messy), and my personal piece de resistance, a general store. Where curated provisions and artisanal s’mores fixins populate the tidy and aesthetically inviting shelves.
And should anyone share my least favorite portion of the camping experience, allow me to allay you fears. The full bathroom, located inside your cabin, with the sink, toilet, shower and bathtub, includes Beekman 1802 soaps, shampoos and lotions.
Inside there’s a kitchenette with all the accoutrement, outside, a picnic table, a fire pit and a forest for bathing, feasting, retreating, recalibrating, and whatever it is you do to recognize how medicinal merging with nature is. And it is.
Other Bay Point Landing lodging options include airstream suites and RV campsites. The architecture cannot go without commentary, its Nordic sleek appeal is a painterly paradox against the rugged scape outside. And as in most differences, the beauty is in the contrast.
The immediate environs are Big Sur stunning, with lush trails that lead down to turquoise, driftwood dousted coves, everywhere is an invitation to the sea. Both nights we were treated to sunsets so electric pink I’m having a hard time believing they were real. Cotton candy clouds and a day glow horizon and not a filter that could ever do better.
Up the coast we cruised en route to Pacific City, where we’d arrive at Headlands Lodge. Journeying up Oregon’s coast was a sumptuous feast of clapboard restaurants and seaside villages, which frankly I wish we’d taken a lot longer to enjoy. Winchester Bay with its oysters and ice cream, and then Florence, with its robust farmers markets, antiques and boutiques, tasting trails and food tours, plan on slowing your roll here. Up to Newport, where foodies will fancy such good seafood, and a vegetable power bowl (Clearwater Restaurant) to rival any hipster haunt that houses your favorite. Take a kayak down the Yaquina Bay, stop to visit its namesake lighthouse, which jetties out, bringing New England vibes to the northwest. And Depoe Bay, following the coast north, with winter whale watching and all the fishing town quaint a hood can hold. Last stop, Lincoln City, with its covered bridges and suspended bridges and paddle boarding and fat tire biking on the sand, more time please. Please, take your time.
Alas, Pacific City, home of Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa, a destination perched atop the coast. Thirty three lodges and eighteen cottages all face and celebrate the ocean and Pacific City’s celebrated Haystack Rock. Each sunwashed space a serenade to how special this sect of seaside is. The robes are Frette and the balconies face the sea and everything kind of points towards taking the outside in.
And when you are there, you feel compelled to do just that. Compulsion meets ease and execution, where you can reserve your adventure on-line (so easy) or create a custom itinerary with the help of the on-site Adventure Coaches. Guided hikes, tide pool exploration, kayak excursions, dory boat fishing, and all different avenues of riding the sand on those fat tire bikes. It is so easy to be outdoorsy here.
But if you’re not, fear not, oyster shucking classes or Mixology at Meridian, their upscale on site restaurant, may be more your jam. Or private yoga. Or if you’re more a small group outing kind, those are offered complimentary to all guests. Join a morning dune hike at Cape Kiwanda or bring your pup along the Pacific City pathway trail. The scenics are elixirs and the magic of Headlands is that they meet you whichever way you wish to be found.
And if that is that the spa, well then, you’re still right where you need to be. Tidepools Spa and Wellness is an onsite botanically based therapeutic center where one can find fitness options overlooking the ocean or facials and massages.
A short drive away, find roadside stops where fresh produce is by the bucket, and the owners greet you with artichoke dip and wine tastes just for stopping by. At Bear Creek Artichokes I bought a Paradox Candle Co. Winter Birch, hand poured in Central Oregon. And then before we left, I returned for two more.
Coastal Oregon is an endless unravel of natural attractions. It is a sweep of rugged seaside bliss, seasoned in an overarching ethos of people who are the kind of kind when one has nothing to prove. Sandy ridges sprawl between state parks and spectacular overlooks and conifers that canopy the sky. Untamed forests flank manicured gardens, bonfires nightlight the beach, seals, sea lions frolic, whales breach, bunnies abound, estuaries and coves and crab shacks amass, wild winds chase the air in a maritime melody that stretches out in song.
It is a gift, to come to Oregon, and listen.
Bay Point Landing, 92443 Cape Arago HWY, Coos Bay, Oregon 97420.
Tel: +1(541) 351-9160
Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa, 33000 Cape Kiwanda Dr., P.O. Box 189, Pacific City, Oregon 97135.
Tel: +1(503) 483-3000
Jolie Loeb is a Luxury Lifestyle columnist based in Los Angeles.
Photographs by Jolie Loeb