There is something about a town tucked between the mountains and the sea. Often, it feels like one has reached the far end of the world when he or she arrives in a place like this. Some well-known examples are Bar Harbor, Maine and Big Sur, California. I have been to Bar Harbor and nearby Northeast Harbor, and indeed, these towns do have a special feel to them, with beautiful mountains on one side and sparking ocean on the other.
While planning an early summer trip along the Oregon coast with a friend of mine, I read about a town named Yachats. It looked like it might be another one of those places “where the mountains meet the sea. " The travel books all gave this town high marks, so we decided that we would stay there on the first night of the trip.
My friend and I flew into Portland on a day that featured record heat. The outdoor temperature gauge in our car read 99 degrees as we left the airport. We drove west toward the Pacific, and watched the temperature drop degree by degree as we got closer to the sea. By the time we reached the seaside town of Tillamook, the temperature was 49 degrees—a 50-degree drop in about 70 miles!
We followed the coastal road through some of the most spectacular country that I had ever seen. Sea stacks, fog, steep cliffs, and remote seaside villages lent a haunting feel to the area. We drove through the bustling town of Newport, the last town before Yachats. We followed the wooded road for awhile longer, then entered Yachats. I looked around and saw a couple of gift shops, a seafood restaurant, a pay phone…and that was about it. “Is this it?" I asked my friend. We decided to drive a bit further, but were quickly in the woods again. We turned around, wondering what could possibly be the allure of this place.
We located the motel that we were to stay in for the night, and started to understand why the travel books raved about this place. Directly behind the motel was a scene that included rolling fog over a choppy Pacific Ocean, sea stacks and small cliffs surrounding a small, sandy beach, and a winding path that led in both directions along the coast. From my room, I could hear the waves crashing against the rocks. The smell of the sea was everywhere. Suddenly I couldn’t wait to see the rest of Yachats.
After we settled in, my friend and I decided to check out the ocean path. It seemed to head toward the center of town, which was about a mile away. We walked along some of the path, breathing in the fresh air and admiring the cottages along the cliffs. But it was getting late and we were hungry, so we headed back to the motel and drove into town.
There was a rustic little seafood restaurant in the center of town that had a terrific view of the Pacific. We stopped there for dinner and I had a very satisfying plate of fish and chips (I would subsequently have fish and chips for dinner every night for the next four nights). I ate too much, as usual, though, and we decided to walk off our dinners before the sun went down.
There really wasn’t much to Yachts, but it definitely had a certain charm to it. We walked through town, noting that there was a breakfast place; this would come in handy on our way out. Soon we came to the harbor, and took a right along a side road that wound along the coast. The road had a sandwich shop on one side and an angry, churning sea on the other. We continued along the road and soon discovered that it led to the path back to the motel. We backtracked to the car with the intentions of walking into town in the morning.
I’m not sure I have ever slept as well as I did that night in Yachats. The combination of flying the day before, then driving a long distance obviously helped. But more than that, the continuous sounds, smell, and feel of the ocean, a scant 100 feet away, permeated my room. By the time I woke up the next morning, to say I felt refreshed would be a major understatement.
Our second day in Yachats was much more promising, weather-wise; while still foggy, there were patches of blue sky above, and it was a bit warmer out. We left the motel, headed to the path and took a left toward town.
The path wound its way toward town, skirting cliffs and passing by quirky beach homes. After about a half mile, the path ended at the road we had been on the night before. My friend and I continued into town, seeing for the first time that Yachats was surrounded by mountains. It was low tide, causing the town harbor to become more like a huge, sandy beach, so we walked down to it and went as far as we could before hitting the water. The view back toward town was very nice, with mountains and beach seeming to meet right where the town was.
We checked out of the motel and left Yachats, but on the way out of town, we saw what might have been the most spectacular part of the area; a place called Cape Perpetua. This was a place where the mountains TRULY met the sea. Cliffs nearly 1,000 feet high tumbled down to the rocky coast, and several paths crossed the area. We spent a good amount of time here before heading to our next destination. While we saw some unforgettable places during the rest of the trip, Yachats still stands out in my mind every time I think about the Oregon coast.
Copyright 2005, Travel Guide of America. All Rights Reserved.
Marc is a writer who has helped create Travel Guide of America , a US travel guide that focuses on interesting cities, towns, and villages that are vacation destinations. You can find out more about Yachats on the Yachats, Oregon page in Travel Guide of America.