By Deb Dickerson
In the small community of Yachats (Ya-hots), Oregon, the Coast Range rises sharply above the Pacific Ocean. The fog, misty and salty, drifts in and out, allowing intermittent slices of sunshine. Black basalt shorelines, formed by the volcano now called Cape Perpetua, make abrupt barriers causing the surf to explode in places like Cook’s Chasm, Devils Churn, and Thor’s Well. Pyrotechnics of water and light.
Photographers from around the world come here to catch the perfect shot of the elusive sun peeking between the fog, the rocks, and the wild surf. The scenery is breathtaking. The atmosphere is laid back and comfortable. A welcome respite for a long weekend.
The ancient 804 Trail is a favorite of locals and visitors alike. It wanders along the coastline in Yachats proper connecting a labyrinth of rocky ledges to the wide stretches of sandy beach to the north. Weathered but sturdy wooden posts mark the 804. You’ll likely find one topped with beach gems such as small agates and polished bits of shell left by passersby for others to find and take home as souvenirs. Later, to be replenished by another wanderer. There is nothing written about this tradition, it just happens. It’s part of the magic of Yachats.
Located equidistant between Florence and Newport on Highway 101, unlike her larger neighbors, there are no chain hotels or restaurants. Everything is home-owned and home-grown. There isn’t even a stoplight.
Vacation rentals include everything from cozy cottages to million dollar mansions. There are pet-friendly motels with kitchenettes, kid-friendly lodgings with pools, and a restored 1950’s motor-lodge or two. If it’s luxury you desire, the Overleaf Lodge & Spa is happy to pamper you. Choose a cabin with a fireplace to cozy up to during a winter storm. Sit under a warm blanket and listen to the fire crackle and the surf pound the shore. Make popcorn and hot chocolate. Have lunch in The Adobe Resort oceanfront restaurant and watch for whale spouts on the water. It’s a good bet you will see them no matter the season.
Hike the Amanda Trail across Highway 101 through old growth Spruce trees to the stone lookout on the top of Cape Perpetua. Pack a picnic and go tide pooling at Yachats State Park. You’ll find starfish, sea anemones, sea urchins, and all manner of creepy and colorful sea creatures. It’s best to go two hours before low tide.
Stroll the Sunday Farmers Market to find local treasures made by local artists. While you’re there, grab an espresso and a pastry from the Bread and Roses Bakery. Slurp a double-decker chocolate peanut butter ice-cream cone at Toppers Ice Cream and Candy. Chocoholics beware their home-made fudge.
Educate yourself about local agates and other rocks at Planet Yachats, the owners love to share their knowledge. The beaches here are ideal for finding these beautiful amber colored gems. Take a stroll on the beach and search for some yourself while your dog plays in the surf. Stock up on greeting cards and other unusual gifts at a vintage cottage called Toad Hall.
Be sure to find your way to the Underground Pub & Grill. The locals hang here. On any Sunday morning have a Bloody Mary special, or a pint of their home-brewed “Two Shrew Malt to the Max” – buy a t-shirt- strike up a conversation, they’re friendly. Listen to live music on the weekends for a rousing end to your day.
Seafood aficionados won’t want to miss out on freshly caught Dungeness Crab and authentic Halibut Fish and Chips at Luna Sea Fish House. The owner’s boat brings in fish daily. Warm yourself from the inside out with a bowl of creamy Manila Clam Chowder served with freshly baked sourdough bread at Ona. Add a glass of Oregon chardonnay for the quintessential coast experience.
Take home one of the whimsical umbrellas hanging from the ceiling at The Drift Inn – a Yachats legacy with a storied and colorful history. They received the 2018 Register Guard Reader’s Choice Award for the best Oregon coast restaurant.
There is much more to see and do in and around Yachats, including Heceta Head Lighthouse – the brightest light on the coast. Seafarers rely on her beams from 21 miles out, as they have for centuries. It’s also the most photographed lighthouse on the coast. Volunteers give tours daily.
Whatever you do, and whenever you go, don’t forget your camera because Yachats is known as the Gem of the Oregon Coast, and, according to a local dignitary, the home of the world’s largest ocean. And, Arthur Frommer, of guidebooks fame, named Yachats as his 7th favorite vacation place on the planet. Now that’s some recommendation!
All Photos by Deb Dickerson