Oregon is a beautiful Pacific Northwest state known for its nature, food, and drink culture. There are over 500 wineries in the state’s Willamette Valley alone.
If beer is your beverage of choice, you’ll have more than 300 breweries available for taste testing. The state has diverse landscapes depending on the region you visit.
This region has more than 360 State Parks and five National Parks, so you’ll see natural beauty in the forests, waterfalls, and even deserts. The Oregon Coast stretches over 360 miles, and you’ll find Cannon Beach along that path.
Why You Should Visit Cannon Beach
Cannon Beach might not be what you think of when you plan a typical sandy vacation. There are sand and ocean waves, of course, but there are also dramatic rock formations, like the famous Haystack Rock.
It’s the third-tallest sea stack in the world, standing about 235 feet tall. During low tide, you can walk to the rock and see how lava and marine sediment created it.
Whether you venture out to Haystack Rock or not, Cannon Beach is the prime spot for bird-watching. Puffins, Black Oystercatchers, and Common Murres live on the rock in certain seasons.
You can also spot sea lions, seals, and Gray Whales in the surrounding waters. If you’re a movie buff, you might know that directors shot The Goonies and the Twilight films on Indian Beach in Ecola State Park.
The park is just north of the most popular area of Cannon Beach, so you can take a short detour to see these cinematic locations. Cannon Beach is a great place to visit for a unique trip.
You can enjoy natural beauty unlike any other beach you’d typically visit on vacation. You’ll most likely experience comfortable temperatures, even during the summer, so you don’t have to worry about overheating while appreciating the beach.
Overall Best Time to Visit Cannon Beach
Going to the beach during summer is the best time for such a sandy experience. At Cannon Beach, a summer visit means you also get to see some of the most unique sandcastles.
The Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest happens every June. It started in 1964 when families wanted to occupy their children and bring tourists to town to fund the rebuilding of the Elk Creek Bridge.
Over the years, the contest’s popularity grew, and now people from around the world descend on the beautiful beach for this event.
When you visit Cannon Beach during the contest weekend, you’ll see artists of all skill levels using only the sand and natural elements found in a small plot of beach to build their sculptures.
Since 2014, the event has been an Oregon Heritage Tradition, according to the state’s Parks and Recreation Department, which shows you that it’s worth seeing. Beyond this entertaining attraction, the weather is also perfect in summer.
The temperatures in June never top out of the 60s. The nights get a little chilly, so you’ll want to dress in layers and pack a jacket. There’s an average of eight days of rain during June, so you’ll have beautiful weather to spend on the beach.
Cheapest Time to Visit Cannon Beach
Every vacation destination has an off-season. This time is when there are fewer tourists around, so hotels and other attractions lower their prices. September is typically the cheapest month to visit Cannon Beach.
Tourists have traveled for the summer and returned home, and families aren’t yet taking any trips for fall break. Visiting Cannon Beach during September means your flights and rental car are cheaper than in the peak season.
You can also get hotel rooms at lower prices than during the summer months. If you prefer to stay in an Airbnb or unique lodging, you’ll have a much easier time finding a cool place to stay without breaking the bank.
Since there aren’t tourists swarming the beach, you’ll have your pick of dates during September and can pay a lower price for the lodging.
You can also find cheap airfare and lodging during February and November. Keep in mind that Oregon gets the most rain between November and March.
While you can book an affordable trip, you might struggle to enjoy your time due to the soggy weather. With that in mind, traveling to Cannon Beach during the off-season means you can take a longer trip with a smaller budget.
Least Busy Time to Visit Cannon Beach
June through August is the busiest time to visit Cannon Beach. Everyone wants to plan a fun summer vacation to a beautiful beach, and the Oregon coast fits the bill.
With that in mind, the least busy time to visit Cannon Beach is the off-season, which runs from October to May. People call this period the magic season due to its peacefulness.
Tourist season starts with the previously mentioned sandcastle contest, so if you want decently warm weather without the crowds, May is your best bet for visiting Cannon Beach.
Temperatures dip into the 40s at night, so you’ll want to pack layers and jackets to keep warm. There’s also an average of 11 rainy days, so bring a raincoat or umbrella too.
However, fall in the Pacific Northwest is stunning, so you might want to aim for an October visit to capture the magic season. You can venture into the parks to see the foliage changing colors.
The temperatures are almost as warm as they’d be during a May visit, with a slightly higher likelihood of rain. Keep in mind that if you can only visit Cannon Beach during the summer, you can still find secluded areas.
The farther you venture from Haystack Rock, the fewer people will surround you. You can even hike into Ecola State Park to see Crescent Beach for a more peaceful beach experience.
Worst Time to Visit Cannon Beach
The worst time to visit Cannon Beach depends on your intentions for your vacation. Are you trying to see natural beauty during its peak season, or do you want to get away from the crowds for some peace?
The good thing is there’s not a terrible time to visit Cannon Beach. Though the winter months are cold and rainy, the landscape is still so beautiful that you’ll get some stunning photos from your visit.
Haystack Rock looks cool during the summer months, but when it’s cloaked in fog and rain, it looks like a landmark from a fairy tale. If you’re trying to avoid people and escape into nature for a time, the worst time to visit Cannon Beach is June or August.
Crowds swarm the beach in June for the sandcastle contest, and by August, everyone is taking their family vacation and spending entire days at the beach. In terms of weather, the worst time to visit Cannon Beach is November.
This month is the rainiest in Oregon, so you might not enjoy spending too much time outside. However, if you like the dreary weather and dress accordingly, you’ll most likely have the beach to yourself.
Things to Consider
Before you finalize your trip to Cannon Beach, make sure you consider all the factors that will impact your trip:
- There’s so much to do and see at Cannon Beach and the surrounding areas that you’re sure to find some quiet spots. After a visit to the famous Haystack Rock, hike around other areas of the beach or explore all the different landscapes in Ecola State Park, which includes beautiful beaches.
- If you’re visiting Cannon Beach during the off-season, check the weather before your trip. Pack rain gear, as November through March are the rainiest months in Oregon. Plan plenty of fun indoor activities to keep you busy if the weather is too miserable for outdoor activities.
- The water at Cannon Beach rarely tops 55 degrees, so it’s not warm enough to swim unless you wear a thick wetsuit. If you do plan to swim in the Pacific Ocean, ensure you do so safely.
- Cannon Beach is a great vacation destination, but it’s in a prime spot, so try to make time to explore the entire area. Oregon has diverse natural beauty, so you can see a beach, dunes, mountains, and deserts within a short drive.
Frequently Asked Questions
You’ve learned the best, worst, cheapest, and least busy times to visit Cannon Beach. If you need more information, check out the answers to these frequently asked questions:
Does Cannon Beach get crowded?
Cannon Beach gets crowded during the summer since everyone loves to see the coastal beauty during the sunny months. However, if you plan to stay in a different area and drive to the beach for day trips, you’ll have more availability in terms of lodging and restaurants without long waits.
Is it warm enough to swim at Cannon Beach?
No, due to its position on the Oregon coast, Cannon Beach never gets warm enough to swim unless you wear a wetsuit. If you do plan to take a dip in the ocean, have towels and dry clothes waiting nearby, so you don’t freeze. Never swim out farther than you can swim back, as the tide can surprise you and wear you out quickly.
Can you see whales at Cannon Beach?
Yes, you can often spot Gray Whales just off the coast of Cannon Beach. These massive creatures weigh 35 tons and live in the area during the warmer months. You might also catch glimpses of them in December to January or March to April as they migrate between Alaska and Mexico.
What can you do at Cannon Beach?
If you visit Cannon Beach in June, you’ll get swept up in the annual sandcastle contest. During other times of the year, you can relax on the sand and listen to the waves lap the shore. You can also walk around and explore Haystack Rock and the puffins that live there in certain seasons.
What else can you do when you visit Cannon Beach?
If you want to stay in the Cannon Beach area, you can head slightly north to hike in Ecola State Park. Arcadia Beach, to the south, has tide pools. Hug Point is also nearby, with sea caves and a peaceful place to explore nature.
So, When Should You Visit Cannon Beach?
There’s not really a bad time to visit Cannon Beach, depending on your vacation intentions. If you want to see a fun event, go to the sandcastle contest in June. If you want peak beach weather, August is ideal, though you’ll have to navigate the crowds.
For tourists who can handle the cold, Cannon Beach is stunning even in the dreary winter months. It’s a must-see spot. So, with so much to see and do, and technically no bad time to visit, what are you waiting for — book your trip today!