I suppose it should probably go without saying that if you come to the Oregon Coast you should probably at least visit the beach once.
Manzanita has a beach that is mostly sand (rather than rock or gravel as found in a few other locations). It is not possible to take a long walk along the beach to the north as the beach soon ends against the high cliffs of Neahkahnie Mountain. However, to the south of downtown Manzanita the beaches are open all the way to the end of the peninsula on which Nehalem Bay State Park sits. All of this beach space is open to the public, and you are free to walk from Manzanita to Nehalem Bay State Park. However, once you wander off the beach you may be in private property, or you may be on a public road, depending. Please don't wander into people's private land! It is pretty obvious when it isn't public, and we want to keep open access to our Oregon beaches for all time to come.
For lack of anything better to put there, I have put the city of Manzanita web site below.
Over 1600 feet above the sea, Neahkanie Mountain is a most impressive sight. There is a communication building atop, but most of the mountain is wild. You can access the mountain and the top via the Oregon Coast Trail - the trail that goes the length of the Oregon Coast, and can find trailheads along US 101 on the west side just north of the first large lookout or on the south side, beyond the last roadside lookout. Both are marked. The trails are only a couple of miles roundtrip. Views from atop are great ? especially to the south and east. The west is the Ocean. Summit rocks afford a grand spot for a picnic.
US 101 is the highway that runs parallel to the Pacific Coast through Washington, Oregon and California. The highway goes through the eastern edge of Manzanita on its way north to go over the western edge of Neahkanie Mountain. Neahkanie Mountain is over 1600 feet high, straight up from the sea below. The highway skirts above a few hundred feet. Until the road was built, Neahkanie Mountain was a major obstacle for people living further south, ie Tillamook, in communicating with the outside world. From the lookouts on the highway, you can look far to the south: Manzanita and the Nehalem Spit; Nehalem Bay; the entrance to Tillamook Bay at Barview; Cape Meares and the Three Arch Rocks; and finally, to Cape Lookout. Look carefully below, in season you can make out migrating whales in the waters.
From the beach, sunset is always a great time to wander along the sands, alone or with someone special. The colors seem to always change. Don't want to stay up late for that sunset photo, then go in the winter:-] In the summer, the sun takes its own sweet time:-)
The beach at Manzanita is magnificent. It is not unlike many other Oregon beaches in that respect. Sometimes you do not know what you have until you go elsewhere. I thought all beaches were like here. Not true. The water might be warmer elsewhere, not a real difficult thing to accomplish ;-\, but the beaches I saw people flocking to in places like Mykonos, Spain, etc. did not come close to the primeval glory of an Oregon beach. 'Rent a chair for the beach, Sir?' What? Just pick your spot, any spot, just remember that this is Oregon and the temperature can be downright cold. Maybe that is why you don't have to rent that chair? ;-]
Along the beach you can walk, walk the dogs, gaze at sunsets, gaze at Neahkanie Mountain, beachcomb for this or that, have a campfire, play batonk, wade in the surf, surf, go out and wind or kite surf, simply fly a kite, or whatever else takes your fancy. In winter, the surf gets very heavy from strong storms in the north Pacific. Big waves can leave huge amounts of sea foam on the beaches, as the picture shows. In August, the surf can be much gentler, though the water is always cold.
Also in Oswald West State Park, the trail out to the cliffs of Cape Falcon, the headland on the north side of Short Sand Beach ? Neahkanie Mountain is the headland to the south. The trail is about 2.5 miles from the trailhead on US 101 and goes through heavy forested ground, sometimes mucky. Occasional views through the trees of the ocean greet you until the end when you can sit high above sea cliffs and gaze down at the surf maelstrom below you. On a recent visit, we were able to see four whales make their way through the Cliffside surf, followed shortly by a dozen cavorting sea lions.
One of the most popular surfing beaches in Oregon, Short Sand Beach attracts full parking lot crowds to its short sand beach. The setting is wild; forested rocky capes to the immediate north and south enclose the beach. The whole area is a State Park, kept natural and away from the developers found both to the north and south. The State Park is named after Oswald West, an Oregon governor from the early 20th century. There is a popular walk-in campground that fills regularly. While many people come to test the surf, most just come to sit on the beach and watch.