Whale Watching on the Oregon Coast

Whale Watching on the Oregon Coast

Whale Watching On The Oregon Coast

Whale watching on the Oregon Coast can be enjoyed anytime of the year.   Although several species of whales might be spotted, the most commonly seen is the Gray Whale which migrates along the coast twice annually.

The whales usually travel within 2.5 miles of shore along 5,000 – 7,000 miles of coastline.  This route makes this one of the few whale migrations that we can see from shore.


Gray Whale Migration

Spring migration occurs in waves from January through June.  Adult males and juveniles, as well as newly pregnant females are the first to head north.  Mothers and babies stay in the lagoons of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula a month or two longer than the others so babies can gain blubber and strength before making the long journey north.

Fall migration southward occurs from October through February and is led by pregnant females who are eager to reach the warm birthing and nursery lagoons, followed by males, and other adult females.  Juveniles join the journey south, but some don’t even reach Mexico before turning around and heading north.

Resident Gray Whales in Summer

Some gray whales do not continue on to Alaskan waters but stay off the coast of Oregon between June and November. These part-time residents number about 200.  Summer feeding whales are very close to shore and eat tiny mysid shrimp that live in the kelp beds. They may feed for hours in the same location.

Whale watching on the Oregon Coast
Whale watching on the Oregon Coast can be enjoyed at anytime of the year.

Whale Watching Tips

Whale watching on the Oregon Coast is not difficult, but a few tips make it easier. Any location with an ocean view may yield whale sightings, and morning light with the sun at your back is best.  Whale spouts can be spotted with your naked eye; then you can focus more closely with binoculars.  Afternoon light reflects off the water and makes viewing difficult.  Any spot with an ocean view may yield whale sightings, but higher locations are better than sandy beaches.

For an up close and personal experience, try whale watching from a charter boat.

Whale Watching Spoken Here Program

Seeing one of the largest creatures on earth surface offshore is an incredible experience.  Through the Whale Watching Spoken Here (WWSH) program, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) places trained volunteers at overlooks along the Oregon coast to assist visitors in spotting gray whales during their two major annual migrations in the winter and spring.

From north to south, there are  numerous Whale Watching Spoken Here sites in Oregon. With or without a volunteer to assist, these are the best locations along the coast to spot whales.

There are 24 designated whale watching locations along the Oregon Coast.

For additional information on the Whale Watching Spoken Here program and a map of the best whale watching locations, click here.

  • Ecola State Park (this location is just minutes from Inga’s Cottage)
  • Neahkahnie Mountain Historic Marker Turnout on Highway 101
  • Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint
  • Cape Lookout State Park – 2.5 mile hike to site at tip of Cape
  • Cape Kiwanda
  • Inn at Spanish Head  Lobby on 10th floor
  • Boiler Bay State Scenic Viewpoint
  • The Whale Watching Center/Depoe Bay Sea Wall
  • Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint
  • Cape Foulweather
  • Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area
  • Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area
  • Don Davis City Park
  • Cape Perpetua Interpretive Center
  • Cook’s Chasm Turnout
  • Sea Lion Caves Turnout – large Highway 101 turnout south of tunnel
  • Umpqua Lighthouse, near Umpqua Lighthouse State Park
  • Shore Acres State Park
  • Face Rock Wayside State Scenic Viewpoint
  • Cape Blanco Lighthouse, near Cape Blanco State Park
  • Battle Rock Wayfinding Point, Port Orford
  • Cape Sebastian
  • Cape Ferrelo
  • Harris Beach State Park, Brookings, Oregon


Whale Watching Expeditions

Whale Research Eco Excursions

View whales in their natural habitat with Whale Research EcoExcursions. Guided daily excursions are led by Captain Carrie Newell and her team.  Captain Carrie Newell is a professor of marine biology and whale researcher.  Her research has been featured on Jean-Michel Cousteau’s show Gray Whale Obstacle Course.  Voted to the top 25 things to do in Oregon by Dream Vacation Magazine.  Daily departures from Depoe Bay are scheduled at 10:00 am, 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm  Book online here or call (541) 912-6734 to make reservations.

Dockside Charters – Depoe Bay

Dockside Charters run whale watching excursions on a daily basis during whale watching season from  50 foot Delta Charter boats and are Coast Guard certified. Reservations for whale watching tours can be made by calling  541-765-2545.

Beach Combing For Glass Floats On The Oregon Coast

Beach Combing For Glass Floats On The Oregon Coast

Beach combing for glass floats  on the Oregon Coast during the annual event of “Finders Keepers” has become a favorite activity for those in search of glass treasures.  Imagine beach combing along seven miles of sandy beach and finding artistically created hand blown glass floats reminiscent of the Japanese floats that used to wash ashore by the Oregon coast tides that you get to keep.

Lincoln City, located approximately 85 miles south of Cannon Beach on US-101 features a “Glass Floats On The Beach” event from mid October through Memorial day.  Nearly 3,000 handcrafted glass floats made by local artisans are “hidden” on the seven miles of public beach.  You find them, you keep them!  “Hidden” is a casual term, because they want these beautiful hand made treasures to be found.  Floats are placed on the beach during daylight hours only, and are hidden throughout the day.  You can find floats every day, rain or shine.  Floats are numbered, so when you find a float, visit the registration page to register your treasure and to receive a certificate of authenticity.


Glass Float found in Lincoln City
Glass float found during Finders Keepers Glass Floats On The Beach event in Lincoln City, Oregon


History of Finders Keepers

Visitors to Oregon’s beaches in days gone by have found treasures from the east such as blown glass floats in beautiful colors in shades of green and blue.  They were used by Japanese fishing crews for floating their nets and varied in size from a mere two inches up to two feet in diameter. They were the ultimate treasure found by beachcombers.  The Finders Keepers project began in 1997 when a local glass artist thought that introducing glass floats would be an intriguing way to enter into the new millennium.  The Millennium Float project was a perfect combination of art and the outdoors.  Those who come to the area in search of finding a float often find their way to a number of area art galleries where they can find an array of fine art glass made locally as well as from around the world.



2018 Glass Float Artists

Alder House Glassblowing:  Treasure Collupy, Lincoln City, OR

Fernhill Glass: Claude Kurtz, Astoria, OR

Flanigan’s Glass Gallery: Brett Flanigan, Lincoln City, OR

Gathering Glass Studio: Keith Gabor, Ashland, OR

Glass Quest: Mark and Marcus Ellinger, Stanwood, WA

The Hot Shop: Jeff Hajek, Newport, OR

Jennifer Sears Glass Art Studio: Kelly Howard, Jon Meyers, Daniel Millen, and James Benson, Lincoln City, OR

Oregon Coast Glassworks:  William Murphy, Newport, OR


Glass Floats in Lincoln City's Finders Keepers
Beach combing for glass floats in Lincoln City





Travel Tip created by Brian and Nancy in association with Vacation Soup