Planning to elope on the Oregon Coast? The Northern Oregon Coast is a gorgeous place with long stretches of sandy beaches where the coastal forest meets the Pacific Ocean. When eloping on the Northern Oregon Coast, trying to decide which beach is best can be hard. They are all so gorgeous! As a native Oregonian, each summer we would drive along highway 101, stopping at each beach and exploring. So much history and memories made! Now as an Elopement Photographer, let me share five favorite beach locations for eloping on the Northern Oregon Coast and why you might consider them for your day.
The Northern Oregon Coast stretches from the mouth of the Columbia River to Cascade Head (north of Lincoln City). This area includes some of the most visited beaches of Oregon and most iconic vistas we all love. From Cannon Beach with Haystack Rock, to Hug Point and its seasonal waterfall, and further south with Cape Kiwanda and its one-of-a-kind sandstone headland. The Northern Oregon Coast is not to be missed!
Before getting to these awesome locations – I want to answer a few important questions that you might be wondering about when planning your elopement on the Northern Oregon Coast.
When should you have your Oregon Coast elopement?
Eloping on the Oregon Coast should come with its own weather elements warning – it can often be windy, chilly, rainy and please be mindful of the tide. Summer on the Oregon coast is great but don’t forget a coat or sweater for that evening chill. Winter weather varies drastically and if you are ok with getting drenched and have a warm & cozy place to escape to immediately after then great! If planning for an elopement in the winter with storm weather, please do be cautious.
Spring and Fall can offer some great options with a chance of good weather and potentially less crowds. For those blue sky optimal weather days, I would recommend between June – September. However each year and season is unique and be sure to do your own checking to see what is best for you. It is, after all, the rugged Pacific Northwest and that’s part of what makes it so special.
Day of the Week
When eloping in a public space, such as a beach on the Northern Oregon Coast, weekdays (Monday – Thursday) are recommended. Some locations provide a more intimate option than others as well. Also, planning your day and adventures around the sunset on the west coast is a must! Need some help bringing your elopement dreams to life? No problem! Planning assistance is included in all our Elopement Packages and I would love to chat!
What do you need to legally be married in Oregon?
In order to legally be married in Oregon, you will need an ordained officiant, two legal age witnesses and your Oregon marriage license in hand. Since 2020, more counties have allowed for online applications for getting your license, but don’t take my word for it. Please see the most up to date information for Multnomah County (the county of the Portland International Airport) here.
Do you need a permit to elope on the Oregon Coast?
If having less than 50 guests, no structures and not prohibiting the public from also accessing the area used, then you probably do not need a permit. However, it is always best to check and review the rules by Oregon State Parks as they may change. If planning on using chairs or structures you can contact the Coastal Region Office at (541) 563-8500 to learn more about a special use permit for your specific elopement. When in doubt, it’s always best to ask if unsure.
What is LNT (Leave No Trace) and how can I implement it on my elopement day?
Practicing Leave No Trace’s Seven principles when out enjoying the great outdoors and especially while eloping allows for minimum impact when visiting the outdoors. We all love the Oregon coast and want to keep it awesome for many years to come. For elopements specifically this can mean no tossing/littering of items on the ground to celebrate your marriage, no bouquet toss from a sea cliff into the ocean and in general please pack out what you pack in. When in an area that has designated paths, please stick to the path. You can read more about the seven principles and how they might apply to your day here. This is a great way to do your part to keep the Oregon Coast gorgeous for all!
Five Favorite Beach Locations for your Elopement on the Northern Oregon Coast
Eloping on the Northern Oregon Coast at one of these favorite beach locations is bound to be a wonderful experience! These top five elopement locations are based on natural beauty, accessibility and having multiple options for an intimate ceremony at each beach. See our recommended three step process for determining which location is best for you further below. Still not sure? I’d love to make a personal recommendation! Feel free to reach out here and I’d love to chat with you.
Cape Kiwanda is a one of kind, gorgeous area that you will never forget. In order to explore the Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area you will need to climb a significant ‘sand hill’ that will allow you beautiful views on the sea cliffs. If afraid of heights, I would not recommend going out on the sea cliffs. Instead, the far end of the beach is gorgeous as well and no ‘sand hill’ climbing required.
Location: Pacific City, Oregon which is a 2 – 2.5 hour drive from Portland International Airport.
Features: Unique Sandstone sea cliffs, seamount offshore, dunes
Fun Facts: The seamount visible offshore is the primary reason the iconic sandstone cliffs of Cape Kiwanda have lasted as long as they have. Without it protecting this unique sandstone headland, erosion would have taken its toll much more. This important seamount is named after Chief Kiawanda; a very prominent Chief of the Nestugga Tribe who originally inhabited the area in the 1800’s. While some people simply call it ‘Haystack Rock’ due to its similarity to ‘the’ Haystack Rock located offshore of Cannon Beach, this can be very confusing and I wanted to share its actual name and origin. #keephistoryalive
Hug Point is best experienced at low tide and has multiple options for your elopement. This is an iconic beach and if you take the time to enjoy the entire stretch of sand you get to enjoy multiple coves, seamounts, small caves, the seasonal waterfall, hug point itself and more. Parking is unfortunately limited so do plan accordingly.
Location: Arch Cape, Oregon which is a 2 hour drive from Portland International Airport.
Features: Seasonal waterfall, rock faces/small seamounts, small caves, multiple coves accessible at low tides, hug point headland
Local Vendors: Check out Hair and Makeup Artist Alyssa of Alyssa Underwood Artistry based in nearby Cannon Beach, OR.
Fun Facts: Before Highway 101 was built in 1926 the beaches were the highway. Pioneers would have to wait until low tide and ‘hug’ headlands when traveling along the coast. The headland at Hug Point is unique as there are still stagecoach tire ruts that can be seen in the basalt ‘road’ that was blasted out of the headland to make early travel easier along this stretch. You can also see more info at the Cannon Beach History Center and Museum.
Arcadia is located just north of Hug Point so much of the same vendors and local favorites do apply. This stretch of beach might surprise you if you have never been. From the steps leading down to the beach you arrive on the northern most end of the beach where there are some unique rock formations, coastal forest lined areas. If you stroll south on the beach you might be surprised at how far it goes leaving lots of room to explore.
Location: Arch Cape, Oregon which is a 2 hour drive from Portland International Airport.
Features: Nice beach, a small seamount, small cave, and usually a quieter beach with some accessible treed areas.
Everyone loves Cannon Beach! From Chapman Point on the north end, to the iconic Haystack Rock and finally Silver Point on the south end – it is a large stretch of beach to explore. This is also probably the most visited beach on the Oregon coast and something to keep in mind when planning to elope here. Do check with the state park department if wanting to do anything other than a simple elopement here.
Location: Cannon Beach, Oregon which is a 1 hour 45 minute drive from Portland International Airport.
Features: Haystack Rock, other smaller seamounts, great sandy beach and close proximity to Portland.
Favorite Brewpub: Cannon Beach Hardware and Public House, 1235 S Hemlock St, Cannon Beach, OR 97110
There is so much history that comprises Cannon Beach and hopefully you have had the pleasure of making your own memories there as well. As one of the most visited coastal towns in Oregon, this small town often swells with tourists in the summer so do have patience with traffic and crowds when visiting and check out the local Cannon Beach History Center & Museum for lots of great fun facts!
Neskowin is a small town south of Pacific City. From the parking lot, you walk along a short path that takes you by Neskowin Creek and out onto the beach where Proposal Rock sits. At low tide, remnants of a ghost forest can be seen on the south end and while it might look small – at low tide this charming beach leaves much to explore.
Location: Neskowin, Oregon is a 2 hour drive from Portland International Airport.
Features: Proposal Rock, ghost forest, small tide pools, etc. best at low tide and creek splitting the beach.
Local Vendors: Check out My Petite Sweet for your dessert needs.
Favorite Nearby Brewpub: McMenamins Lighthouse Brewpub, 4157 NE Hwy 101, Lincoln City, OR 97367
Fun Folklore: Proposal Rock is said to have received it’s name after a 19th century sea captain Charley Gage proposed to Della Page, the daughter of a local homesteading family, at this location. Legend has it that Della’s mother was so happy, she named the landmark ‘Proposal Rock‘ and it stuck. Before this, the local Native American tribes called this seastack island ‘Schlock‘.
Proposal Rock at Neskowin Beach
There are so many more gorgeous Oregon Coast beaches that did not make our top five favorite beaches for your elopement. Some of my all time favorite locations to visit did not make this list because they are not as universally ‘Elopement Friendly’. Would love to chat with you for custom recommendations.
Three step process for choosing the best beach for your elopement:
When selecting which Oregon Coast beach location is really the best for you and your elopement, here are some things you might consider:
- What is the accessibility and proximity like and does it meet the needs of your day?
For example, if your elopement is including a few guests that would be walking out to a ceremony location, does this beach offer a reasonable ceremony option in close proximity to the parking lot? Also, is this location one you and your guests are able and willing to travel to?
- Are there multiple options available at this beach?
When choosing to elope in a public space, it is important to be flexible. You might have a specific location in mind for your ceremony but it is not an area you can ‘reserve’ or even when in use you will still be sharing the space with the public. This is why we recommend choosing beaches that have multiple options available that lend themselves to beautiful ceremony locations, dependent on the circumstances of the day.
- Does the beach or coastal area have significant meaning to you both?
When eloping in a beautiful place, you might be drawn to a location as a travel destination. Or if you have visited before, perhaps it is a location with an emotional significance. Whichever it is, make sure it checks those boxes for you.
Once you have worked through those three steps, you can hopefully narrow down your list of options. Remember – just because your ceremony is at one beach, doesn’t mean you cannot incorporate another beautiful beach for sunset, your first dance, first look or more! Beach hopping and experiencing more of the beautiful Oregon Coast is a wonderful way to spend your elopement day!
What are other Northern Oregon Coast beach locations to consider for Elopements?
Perhaps a location that might draw less crowds is more for you? Other Northern Oregon Coast beach locations to consider for your elopement might be:
What are some traveling tips for the Northern Oregon Coast?
If flying in, the nearest airport is the Portland International Airport (PDX). All driving distances listed above are from PDX for convenience. The closest metro area is Portland for much of the Northern Oregon Coast. If flying in, renting a car and taking hwy 26 to hwy 101 is the most common route. Hwy 101 then runs north to south along the Oregon Coast. This two lane highway can be crowded in the summer months especially if going through the town of Seaside.
If traveling to Pacific City or Neskowin area, then Salem would be the closest metro area. If you or any passengers get especially carsick, it might be best to take I-5 south to the Salem area before taking Hwy 22 or 18 towards Hwy 101. Google maps might recommend you take Hwy 26, to Hwy 6 to Hwy 101 for these locations which totally works. Hwy 6 is beautiful but curvy and can be slow going. Overall when traveling to the Oregon Coast, please allow extra time than what Google maps might recommend.
There are also dead zones along the coast and traveling to the coast where your cell signal will most likely drop. Of course this might change in the future but be prepared for areas where you might not be able to look up new directions, Google to find a nearby restaurant, etc.
If eloping on the Oregon Coast, you will find many lodging options available. From yurt camping, airbnbs, hotels, bed and breakfasts – beachfront to forest and more. If using an airbnb as a prep area, please ask prior to booking if that is ok with them.
Do book your lodging early, especially if eloping in the summer months. Prime locations book out six months+ in advance. However with so many options available, you should always be able to find something that best meets your needs.
Ready to chat all things elopements? Don’t forget to reach out early as planning assistance is provided with all Elopement and Wedding Photography here at Myrtle Creative Co. – cannot wait to hear from you!
What are your favorite Northern Oregon Coast locations? Would love to know in the comments below!