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The Ultimate Newport Oregon Surf Guide

Surfing on the Oregon Coast is an unconventional journey, consisting of constant discovery, a  lifetime of learning, and an unlikely supply of serendipity.

In many ways, Newport offers an  alternative to the frustrating quest of predicting sandbars, even producing consistent waves–– by Oregon standards––during late spring to fall.

And although Newport is no Malibu or Huntington Beach, you have a decent chance at catching some quality waves between South Beach, Otter Rock, and Agate Beach. 

The Best Waves in Newport, Oregon

Consistency is a tall order for the Oregon Coast, and this is still true for Newport. But when it  comes to predictability, few spots rival Newport along the three-hundred-and-sixty miles of Oregon coastline, and although its local surf community is growing in relevancy, it is still free of  heavy localism or crowded lineups––making it one of the best surf destinations along the Oregon Coast. 

Otter Rock

Otter Rock, just north of Newport, is a popular destination for tourists wanting to take a surf  lesson or sip IPAs around a campfire.

And who could blame them?

It is a peaceful marine  reserve, with a lush beach tucked into a small cliffside at the north end of five miles of open shoreline.

It served me well as an introduction to surfing, given its accessible waves and  welcoming environment. If you are looking for quality, however, it's best to keep driving south.

If you are a beginner, or in search of a scenic surf location, then Otter is worth a shot.  

Otter Rock. Photo: Zach Legat

Like most Oregon spots, Otter Rock is half-decent on a high tide, and only in absolute desperation to quench my incessant surf cravings have I tried it at low tide.

Now, I realize, that  this was a fool’s errand––plain and simple.

It is predominantly a small wave spot, handling a 2-3  ft swell nicely in the mid-to-late spring and on throughout the summer.

With a giant shelf, a  ways offshore, consuming much of the ocean’s energy, it can sometimes be surfed in larger  swell if you are looking for smaller waves; beyond 8-10 ft, however, it becomes a cauldron of  white water that is entirely unsurfable.

Agate Beach

If you are on the hunt for consistent waves, then drive straight past Otter Rock a few miles until  you come upon Agate Beach.

With a good southwest swell and a low tide, I’d consider Agate to be the best right on the Oregon Coast, pound for pound.

Unlike other reef breaks or sandbars in Oregon, Agate is easy to learn––a remedy for surfers who are conditioned to driving up and  down the Oregon coast for hours, looking for anything that resembles and open face. 

Agate Beach. Photo: Dylan Freedom

For starters, it is the best low tide spot around, which is a gospel of salvation for Oregon  surfers––a people who are shoehorned, almost exclusively, into surfing high tide.

At low tide, on a west or southwest swell, waves begin to break farther out along Yaquina Head, producing  crumbling rights that offer a solid ride, sometimes fifty-plus yards down the beach. This is true  for virtually any swell size, from 2-15 ft. Additionally, there is a casual rip current along the cliff,  offering a relaxing lazy river out past the break.

If it isn’t low tide, then take a jaunt down the  beach and enjoy a selection of various sandbars.

Like any Oregon spot, you can go wrong with Agate Beach, but if you are betting all your chips on peeling rights, then it just might pay out. 

Yaquina Bay Bride. Photo: Josh Hild

South Beach

Farther south, over the Yaquina Bay bridge, lies the Newport jetty. On the south side of the jetty, you’ll find a peaceful stretch of small dunes that carry on for miles––commonly known as  South Beach.

Although South Beach isn’t superb, it offers a consistency that is hard to come by from Oregon beach breaks.

This is mostly due to the positioning of the beach itself, which is facing southwest and therefore producing clean sandbars on west or southwest swells.

I find my trips to South Beach to be therapeutic excursions, with a droning foghorn that compliments  the maritime aesthetic of the jetty––with fishing boats, beach grass, and the Yaquina Bay bridge in the distance cultivating a unique atmosphere.  

South Beach. Photo: FlipboardCo

Typically, I paddle out to South Beach with a bigger board on a smaller day, but I do enjoy  spectating local chargers take on larger swells as I watch from the jetty, accompanied by a wide  array of nesting seabirds.

Gnarly currents are generated against the jetty, either offering a  seamless paddle out or an endless washing machine.

Whatever the case may be, South Beach has some of the cleanest beach break in Oregon, and whether you are searching for big, crumbling a-frames, or in the mood for a straightforward longboarding session, then South Beach is a safe bet. 

Along with the rest of Oregon, Newport is not a promising frontier if you want spitting barrels or slow, ripable faces.

If, however, you are looking for decent waves accompanied by inimitable scenery, smaller crowds, and a distinctive culture, then it might be your ideal surfing destination.

Beginners will be happy too, as there is no better place to learn surfing in Oregon than Otter Rock or Agate Beach, offering perfect entry-level waves during smaller swells. 

Whatever your skill level, Newport has something for everyone, and while the selection of spots  is relatively limited compared to other regions along the Oregon Coast, time spent trying the lineups at Newport will surely be rewarded––even if it may be a few sessions from your first paddle out.


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