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
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
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.