Depoe Bay is a great place to visit while on the Oregon Coastal Highway on the Pacific coast or planning a day trip from Portland. Besides having wonderful excursions to see whales and sea lions or a fishing trip, Depoe Bay is the World’s Smallest Harbor. While having a population of less than a few thousand folks, it packs a mighty punch. Their 6 acre harbor houses various boats, including those for whale tours, fishing and the US Coast Guard. The main street near the harbor has cute stores, restaurants and candy, including wonderful salt water taffy! We were also so lucky since it was a bright sunny day. For those taking a Oregon Coast Road Trip or just want to get away with the girls, your significant other, or kids, or want a tour or the terrific coast from a different perspective, this is the place for you. 

FYI: For film fans, this town has been used for filming scenes, including One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Read more: Things To Do In Depoe Bay Oregon, The World’s Smallest Harbor Packs a Mighty Punch on Oregon’s Coastal Highway 

*Disclaimer:This Post May Contain Sponsored Content And Or/ Affiliate Links. This Is A Way I Make An Income From My BlogI Am A Participant In The Amazon Services LLC Associates ProgramAn Affiliate Advertising Program Designed To Provide A Means For Sites To Earn Advertising Fees By Advertising And Linking To Amazon.Com Thanks to Travel Oregon for hosting me at the Sheltered Nook.

Where is Depoe Bay Located?

Depoe Bay is on the Oregon Coastal Highway, Route 101, and is only about 2+ hours from Portland, making it a very doable day trip or for several days or weekends. This village does give you the feel of a small fishing town. Depoe Bay is located between Lincoln City and Newport, Oregon with a total time this driving stretch is 35 minutes long. 

What to know before you go to Depoe Bay, Oregon?

I found this small town of 2000 so charming. The shops, restaurants,and tour companies line one side of Highway 101 and the ocean lies on the other. It is known as the best place to watch whales in Oregon. The whale season is June to mid November. It is perfect for those looking for a relaxing escape.

How to get to Depoe Bay?

To reach Depoe Bay, the most common route is by car. From Portland, it’s approximately 100 miles, taking about 2 hours along US-26 W and OR-18 W. If you’re coming from Salem, it’s roughly 60 miles or a 1.5-hour drive via OR-22 W and OR-18 W. The drive from Eugene spans 90 miles, taking about 2 hours along OR-126 W to Florence and then US-101 N. From Bend, it’s a 170-mile journey that takes around 3.5 hours using US-20 W and OR-229 N. Travelers from Seattle cover about 260 miles in 4.5 to 5 hours, while those from San Francisco embark on a 650-mile, 10 to 12-hour road trip via I-5 N and OR-38 W.

If you prefer flying, the nearest major airports are Portland International Airport (PDX), located 100 miles away, and Eugene Airport (EUG), about 90 miles from Depoe Bay. From these airports, renting a car is the most convenient way to continue the journey. Additionally, Amtrak offers train services to Salem and Albany, with options to rent a car or use local transportation from there.

I came from Cannon Beach, and Astoria, heading North to South along the Oregon Coast.

Distances to Depoe Bay:

  • Portland, OR: 100 miles
  • Salem, OR: 60 miles
  • Eugene, OR: 90 miles
  • Bend, OR: 170 miles
  • Seattle, WA: 260 miles
  • San Francisco, CA: 650 miles

Nearest Airports:

  • Portland International Airport (PDX): 100 miles
  • Eugene Airport (EUG): 90 miles

Things To Do In Depoe Bay

Go Whale Watching In The Whale Watching Capital of Oregon 

Boating: Many come to the rugged coast near Depoe Bay for fishing, whale watching, seafood and see the quaint town. You can take various boat excursions through www.GetYourGuide.com  Depoe Bay is also considered the Whale Watching Capital of Oregon. We chose the 2-hour whale watching excursion with Tradewinds Charter. While they had a 1-hour tour too, we were happy to get out on this very sunny day to get to see potential whales, sea lions, and get to see the coast and town via the Pacific Ocean. The charter also provides announcements over a PA system so you knew what was going on. We were not there during prime whale migration and did not see any whales, but we did see sea lions and various birds, etc. It was great seeing the town, the rocky coast, and the iconic bridge from the water. It was quite enjoyable. 

Depoe Bay Whale Season

Even before the excursion we knew this wasn’t the prime migration period, but there are times that you see some resident whales that do stay in the area. Generally from the winter months of December thru February, Gray Whales are migrating from Alaska to warmer weather in northern Mexico. Then during the spring summer months they migrate back north. From what we were told, from late June thru October, the great migration is the best time to see the whales. We were just a bit early. The 2-hour tour does give a bit more time to search also for the local pods. I am pretty sure I will be back to see this great migration. 

While we don’t fish we saw so many boats with fishing rods and reels, so that is popular here too. We were only here for the day. 

What whales can you find in Depoe Bay, Oregon?

Depoe Bay is a prime location for whale watching, with gray whales seen year-round, especially during their migration periods. You can also spot humpback whales, orcas, and occasionally, the rare blue and minke whales. The rich marine life makes Depoe Bay an exciting destination for observing these majestic creatures up close. 

Beaches at Depoe Bay

Depoe Bay is a small town, but you can find Fogarty Beach at Fogarty Creek State Recreation Area. This is a great place where you can walk down to the ocean along the creek, go to the beach and sunbathe, or depending on the tide, you may be able to explore the tidal pools.  As I stated in the article do be aware of the tides. Fogarty Creek is cliff-rimmed beach, a bit of a hidden gem and it is free to park in the parking area off Coastal Highway 101. The parking area is not manned, so be careful with your valuables.

Stroll the Main Street of Depoe Bay

It was great just strolling the main street of Depoe Bay, restaurants, souvenir shops, and of course candy shops like Ainslee’s Salt Water Taffy www.ainlees.com, with its fabulous salt water taffy. Ainslee’s has a long history, established in 1947. Depoe Bay is a good place with a relaxed vibe. Folks there were friendly too.

Things to do nearby Depoe Bay and Newport, Oregon 

Head south towards Newport, Oregon for a beautiufl scenic drive to see the rugged Oregon Coast.

Devils Punchbowl Natural Area

Visiting Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area, just north of Depoe Bay on the Oregon Coast, is a mesmerizing experience. This unique rock formation, shaped like a gigantic punchbowl, was carved out by the relentless action of the ocean. During high tide, waves crash into the bowl with dramatic force, creating a spectacular display of churning water and foamy surf. At low tide, you can explore the tide pools around the bowl, teeming with vibrant sea life. The surrounding park offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, perfect for spotting whales and enjoying picturesque sunsets. Whether you’re hiking along the scenic trails or simply marveling at the natural beauty, Devil’s Punchbowl provides a breathtaking glimpse into the power and beauty of coastal geology.

Yaquina  Bay Lighthouse and Yaquina Bay Bridge 

Visiting the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse in Newport, just south of Depoe Bay, offers a fascinating glimpse into Oregon’s maritime history. Built in 1871, this historic lighthouse is the oldest wooden lighthouse still standing on the Oregon coast. It stands proudly on a bluff overlooking the entrance to Yaquina Bay, providing panoramic views of the ocean and surrounding landscape. The lighthouse, now a museum, allows visitors to explore its restored rooms and learn about the life of a lighthouse keeper in the 19th century. Whether you’re intrigued by history or simply enjoy coastal scenery, the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse is a charming and educational stop on your coastal adventure.

Take a photo of the Yaquina Bay Bridge 

Near the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse in Newport, Oregon, stands the iconic Yaquina Bay Bridge, an architectural marvel and one of the most photographed landmarks on the Oregon coast. Completed in 1936, this stunning bridge spans the Yaquina Bay and is a masterpiece of Art Deco design by the renowned engineer Conde McCullough. Its graceful arches and towering piers create a picturesque backdrop for the lighthouse and the bay. Walking or driving across the bridge provides spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, the bustling harbor, and the charming city of Newport. 

Where to stay Depoe Bay

Sheltered Nook in Tillamook 

Depoe Bay is a small town, we were only there during a day trip from our unique stay at Sheltered Nook. The Sheltered Nook is a Tiny Home community where you can rent one of 6 tiny homes near Tillamook Bay and the town of Bay City. It was a great experience; you are a bit closer to nature and the host Mark was very nice. This is probably one of the closest things to camping, without camping. You are so close to the trees, have nice gardens, and you can cook indoors or on the grill, yet have the conveniences of home (including connections to the internet).

Whale Cove Inn in Depoe Bay 

If you are looking to stay right in Depoe Bay I would recommend staying at the Whale Cove Inn for a luxury accomadation. Perched above a serene cove, this boutique hotel offers elegantly appointed suites featuring private balconies and fireplaces, perfect for cozying up while watching the waves. Guests can savor gourmet dining at the on-site restaurant, known for its fresh, locally sourced cuisine, while soaking in the panoramic vistas of the Pacific. The tranquil ambiance and personalized service at Whale Cove Inn provide a perfect escape for those seeking both relaxation and adventure on the beautiful Oregon Coast.

Channel House 

Staying at Channel House in Depoe Bay offers a tranquil escape with stunning oceanfront views and cozy, comfortable accommodations. Many rooms feature private whirlpool tubs and balconies, perfect for enjoying the sights and sounds of the Pacific. With its welcoming atmosphere and proximity to local attractions, Channel House provides a serene and relaxing retreat on the Oregon Coast. This is a budget to mid range option. 

Depoe Bay Restaurants

Exploring Depoe Bay we saw various restaurants. We then found out about one popular place. Gracie’s Sea Hag restaurant (www.theseahag.com) is described by The Oregonian  as “a longstanding seafood dive” but is known to have good “grub”. This restaurant dates back to 1963. We did go in and found it was a bit dark with dark walls and a bar counter, but people were there eating. We then sat near the window given the sunny day and ordered the chowder after coming back from our 2 hour whale watching excursion. I was happy that they served the “oyster” crackers too with it and found the buttery clam chowder very good and the server was very nice too. This place is also budget friendly. As the saying goes, you can’t always judge a book by its cover.  

Another popular restaurant in Depoe Bay is Tidal Raves Seafood Grill www.tidalraves.com The decor looked so nice with windows open out to the sunlight. This seafood grill was very busy with fine dining, with a long list of seafood, plus filet mignon, Wagyu Rib Eye. It also is on Highway 101 like Gracie’s Sea Hag. Be prepared, it is a bit pricier and a fancy place to dine if that is what you are looking for.

Depoe Bay Coffee Shops

After a boating excursion or walking on the main street, you may want something to keep you warm, like a nice coffee. I love a good latte, hot chocolate and anything associated with coffee and espresso.

Pirate Coffee Company www.piratecoffeecompany.com: One of the places you may want to choose is Pirate Coffee Company, its image of a pirate fits into the seaside bay community. They are generally open 8am to 3pm and they roast their beans daily. Besides selling coffee by the cup, they sell coffee beans by the bag, have a Pirate Coffee of the Month Club that you can join for 6 or 12 months, and sell artisan gifts. It was open from 8am to 3pm while we visited Depoe Bay.

Left Coast Coffee Co. www.leftcoastcoffeeco.com: Left Coast is another great coffee option. If you can tell from my stories on the road, I am an avid coffee drinker. This roastery also has some great coffee and espresso bar with baked goods. They are generally open 9-1 or 9-3, but do check times since they vary by season.  

Depoe Bay Oregon Weather

As was the case in other Oregon coastal cities, what can I say, the weather in the Pacific Northwest is certainly fickle and can change a lot. One minute it can rain, the next minute bright and sunny. We were lucky to get a bright sunny day. I visited just before the summer season, so I do advise you to bring layers of clothes since it can change any time during the day. Also you may want to bring a raincoat or at least an umbrella.

Tide Charts Depoe Bay Oregon – While the weather is important in Oregon another important factor is the tide if you want to explore any nearby beach. it is good to know when low tide and high tide are, so you can go out to safely explore. NOAA Tide Tables www.oceanservice.noaa.gov is reportedly the place to find the most accurate tide tables. NOAA has over 3,000 stations that are used to predict and watch the coastal tides. Oregon is impacted by “King Tides” that occur a few times of the year when the earth is in line with the moon and sun that impacts gravity, etc. But all along the coast of Oregon many have the tiny tide chart booklets in case you’re interested.

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Is Depoe Bay Worth Visiting, How Long Would You Visit?

Depoe Bay was a wonderful ½ day trip for us. When we arrived we had coffee, then went on a 2 hour whale watching tour on this bright sunny day. Some also enjoy fishing trips that are quite popular. The town itself is cute, seeing the harbor and the interesting bridge that you sail under to get to the ocean was awesome. Depoe Bay is only 112 miles, say 2-2.5 hours from Portland and not far from other cute Oregon coastal towns and State/National Parks.  While the day we took our whale watching tour, it was a beautiful sunny day. While we saw no whales, we did see sea lions and had great views from the ocean of the great coast line.  This was one of our favorite stops on our journey on Oregon’s Coastal Highway. Enjoy the Journey!

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Travels of Sarah Fay

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June 30, 2024

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