Surfing in Oregon

Our Yurt at Nehalem State Park

After an awesome week hanging out with family in Portland for Christmas, we hopped into the car and set off towards the coast. First stop was Nehalem State Park. We were prepared to tent camp but since it was raining and there was a yurt available, we checked into a little camping luxury.

A growler of Deschutes Cascade Ale

Heater on, beer in hand.

We celebrated the next step in our adventure with a few glasses of our Christmas present, all cozy by the heater.

Impressive driftwood

A last minute decision to get some exercise before dark had us scurrying over the sand dunes and screaming at the sight of an offshore peaky beach break. What?! If it had been warm we would have paddled out, but it looked like way too much duck diving for the frigid air and water temps. Plan B – a nice sunset jog down the beach in the rain.

Gorgeous beach view

The next morning the sun finally peeked out for a few hours to warm things up!

We found an amazingly springy piece of driftwood for a little beach springboard action.

With the sun shining we thought we might get some surf and started to more seriously check it.


Cold snow melt river with the most inviting waves we'd seen so far

We stopped in Florence for a burrito and met a local surfer who gave us a hot tip on a spot we should check. It was small and mushy but there was one guy out, it didn’t look like any duckdiving would be required, and I got really fired up to get out there and get it over with!

Surf check friends

BUT, as a rain squall approached, the wind picked up, and the friends informed us that the river was actually much colder than the ocean due to all the snow melt, my motivation fizzled.
Another almost.
We spent a cold night in a tent, saw some big cold waves at Winchester Bay through a set of binoculars borrowed from a serious team of whale watchers (saw a few whale spouts too!), then drove down to Gold Beach for New Year’s Eve.

We did it!!!! New Years Day dawn patrol in Oregon!

Mexican food, Twilight Zone, and a hot shower and warm bed at the Sanddollar Inn finally prepared us for our first session. We suited up in the room, drove down to the North Jetty, and paddled out into a lumpy offshore and empty lineup!
There weren’t a ton of awesome waves ridden but we were both completely amazed that we weren’t cold! After a long right that dumped me into the impact zone, I actually felt hot paddling back out!!!
It was not at all what I expected from an early morning session in Oregon. Maybe i’m not as much of a wimp as I thought.
I do know that we could not have done it without our super toasty Body Glove 5/4/3s, 3mm Eco booties, and Vapor gloves.

Off we go down the coast…..
: )

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3 Responses to Surfing in Oregon

  1. Sasha says:

    Devil’s Punchbowl……Pic with “With the sun shining we thought we might get some surf and started to more seriously check it.” That is the parking lot we overnighted in while running from a massive storm on our WA to soCal road trip. Those huge trees were swaying so hard, I thought on of them was going to crash down on us for sure.

  2. Christian Qvist says:

    Hi Holly,

    Thanks for all the nice stories you publish from your travels around our precious globe:-)

    I like your struggle to get in the freezing ocean, but maybe you can find some inspiration in my good friend Vincent and his recent trip to Sweden!

    Take care and keep posting,


  3. oregon111 says:

    when the high pressure systems move in from late Feb thru March, the usual winter spots work inbetween storms – and when it is storming at the coast, it is snowing in the mountains

    You don’t choose the plans, nature does

    most people are out of the water from Thanksgiving until sometime in Feb – it is just too cold around the turn of the calendar year – not to mention, usually too stormy — that is when I drive east to look for frozen ponds to ice skate on

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