Visiting the Oregon Coast is coming home for me. I’ve only ever known the waves crashing on the sand, or spitting up through rock stacks. The salty mist seems to cover everything with a sticky resin that helps me connect to the wild beauty of the State that raised me. I set out on an adventure from Seattle to re-engage my longing to connect with things both familiar and new. One thing new was an intimate opportunity to experience the Heceta Head Lighthouse (pronounced “Ha – SEE – Ta” by most). This inspiring stay will be added to my article about My favorite unique Pacific Northwest hotels.
This article provides information on visiting Heceta Head Lighthouse — Table of Contents
- Yachats, Oregon — the main town in the area
- The nautral wonderland of Cape Perpetua
- Arriving at Heceta Head
- A room with a view
- Epic night light
- Victorian breakfast
- Journey to Middle Earth — a fantasic Oregon Coast hike
- More to do around every bend
- Interactive Map
- Just passing through? Look here
- If you go — getting there and helpful hints
- TikTok video? Click here.
Getting started — my adventure begins in Seattle
The drive from Seattle to the Oregon Coast is long — just three hours to arrive at Astoria, Oregon — but worth the effort. My heart sings a welcome song as I cross the Astoria Bridge into Oregon. The next few days are spent wandering down iconic Highway 101, which rides the waves of the coastline from the Olympic Peninsula to San Diego.
My journey takes me through Tillamook, Netarts, Neskowin, Glendelan Beach, and Newport before this magical experience begins. While all these places have their own unique features, the area of the Oregon Coast around Yachats (yaw-HOTZ) seems to enter into another realm.
The road opens up after Waldport, and the squeeze of land between the Siuslaw National Forest and the jagged coastline gives me a feeling of freedom. There are a few houses scattered along the way, in between scenic viewpoints and coastal parks with nebulous terms like “Scenic Marine Research Area”.
Yachats is the main town in this region, but with a population of about 700 full-time residents, it gives a cozy small-town vibe. There are no stoplights, just a collection of eclectic eateries and shops. I welcome the nonexistent cell service because it helps me feel disconnected under the best circumstances.
The town hugs the swirl of elements that make up the junction between the Yachats River and the mighty Pacific Ocean — sandy spits, rocky stacks, and twisted spruce. After pondering life in a small coastal town while parked at the Yachats Ocean Road State Natural Site, I push on to Cape Perpetua, only a few more miles down the road. (For more information on Yachats, check out a dedicated article.)
The natural wonderland of Cape Perpetua
Cape Perpetua is another nebulous nature zone that isn’t a National or State Park, but isn’t National Forest, really, either. However, since it’s located within the Siuslaw National Forest, the Forest Service manages the parking areas. This is great for me since I have the annual America the Beautiful Pass. I hang the card in a holder on my dash and head out to explore.
Look for another article coming about this beautiful zone of pristine goodness, complete with an old-growth Sitka spruce hike, dramatic viewpoints, and impressive cauldrons of foamy seawater gushing through snaggle rock stacks.
Although I could watch Thor’s Well all day, the time comes to mosey down the road to find my lodging for the night. Since I’m only a few miles away I make a few stops to take in the coastal views. In particular, the Sea Perch RV park looks fascinating, with the various vehicles perched almost precariously on a short sandy dune just above the swollen surf.
Arriving at Heceta Head State Scenic Viewpoint
Since I’ve made my peace without a technology device providing me coordinates, I enter into an unknown world of twists and turns along Highway 101 that seem to go deeper into the thickets of neck-high salal and battered Sitka spruce that drape over the roadway. I see a simple sign that says, “Heceta Head” and look for a roadway, which sneaks up quickly.
I wind my way down to a parking area literally on the beach and open the door to a swell of salty air and the drum of waves crashing against everything from the fine sandy beach to rock stacks. This is clearly the day-use area of the park, but I walk toward the beach to survey the scene. Upon a bluff overlooking the water, I see the crisp white and red coloring of the Heceta Head Bed & Breakfast. Excitement rushes through me knowing this will be my home for the night.
Further, in the distance, I can make out the Heceta Head Lighthouse, on the extreme edge of land — just where you’d expect they’d build a beacon of light. I’m a bit confused about how to get to the Heceta Head Bed & Breakfast and grab my pack to start walking. The steep hill continues through a wild coastal forest until a large lawn opens like theatre curtains to the white picket fence surrounding the historical lightkeepers’ house.
There were several other buildings built around 1900 to house the families assigned to tend to the lighthouse, but only one remains. All the supplies to build the lighthouse and outbuildings were shipped in on a boat, dropped on the beach below, and carted up to this landing.
Sometimes when the tide was low enough they’d hitch up a wagon and horses and race around the head to visit places like Florence for supplies. It must’ve been a hard life despite the unbridled beauty of the sea.
A room with a view — Heceta Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast
I check into the Bed and Breakfast and learn that I missed the small road leading from Highway 101 to the lodging and return to fetch my car. In all the excitement I didn’t display my parking pass and find a yellow slip of paper with a warning. Remember to pay for parking!
The Heceta Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast has six rooms that seem to take up the mostly historic floor plan of the duplex. The building is owned by the US Forest Service but is operated by a contractor year-round as a real Bed and Breakfast — versus Airbnb or VRBO.
My room is the only one with a direct view up to the Heceta Head Lighthouse, which makes me happy. The other rooms either look back at the garden or out to the sea (obviously the best views). I open the double-hung window completely to let the sea air fill the room. My dedicated bathroom is just across the hall but I don’t mind — it comes complete with a claw foot bathtub.
The parlor area is packed with historic photos and fun quips about lighthouse living. It’s a mini-museum decorated with charming pieces of nostalgia. A full operating kitchen is provided for use, but I plan to enjoy dinner in Yachats at the restaurant owned by the same operator of the B&B.
Nature’s light shines bright at Heceta Head Lighthouse
Daniel (who works for the B&B) offers a friendly welcome when I check in and also provides me with an ornate cheese plate and a glass of wine that I take out to the front porch. I find an Adirondack chair facing the surf and enjoy a happy hour like no other in recent memory. A few other guests are situated in their own part of the deck and we all seem pulled into the trance of the crashing waves.
The sun is getting heavy on the horizon so I make my way up the road to the lighthouse. It’s an easy quarter mile to the iconic beauty — said to be the most photographed on the Oregon Coast. The light became automatic with new technology in the 1960s and now shines 21 miles over the ocean at night — the brightest light on the Oregon Coast. I wonder if this bright light will be shining into my eyes all night long!
A few of the other guests also gather along the waist-high chain link fence to watch the brilliant flows of orange and pink cascade over the sky. And like a metronome, the forces of the ocean serve up wave after wave that smash against the rocks, spitting up foam and mist that drifts up to my face. At the same time the sense of calm provided by this commanding scene gives me a feeling of complete relaxation. I stay until the sun has completely disappeared for the evening.
The 14-mile drive to Yachats this time of night is easy and I manage to get a seat in the lounge area of the busy Ona Restaurant and Lounge. My house-made veggie burger is outstanding as well as the caesar salad and I bring a slice of the upside-down orange cake back to the B&B with me.
21-mile night light
When I arrive back, the beam of the lighthouse is in full effect, slowing swirling faint dots in a circular fashion around the trees on the shoreline, and then into the abyss of the dark ocean. It isn’t as bright as I imagined, just a series of repetitive blinks. My home away from home provides flashlights to use to walk up to the lighthouse, a privilege only given to the B&B guests.
The walk is almost eerie now because the park is closed and there are no other people around me. Under the cover of the thick spruce, the world morphs into a mysterious realm of dense protection, even as the waves hammer over and over. The thicket parts and the shining light at the top of the red and white tower doesn’t skip a beat, as if my inner workings are kept safe.
The glow of a partial moon only gives a faint color to the complex topography — enough for me to make outlines of mountains, trees, rocks, and waves — that feels like an animation. The beam of the beacon above my head casts a glow like a disco ball revolving on a dance floor and all at once, I feel the sense I’m at a private party for one.
I ponder what ships out there, within the 21-mile range might see this light. How might my light be that bright in my own life? It’s a quiet moment of reflection.
The window remains fully open and when I turn off the lamp next to the bed I see my friend, the lighthouse, swirling a refined glow that will be just enough to lull me to sleep knowing I have a friend, a light, watching over me. The child within me sleeps in a complete feeling of security and protection — and the soft linens only add to the sublime feeling of falling asleep in a lighthouse on a bluff — the lullaby of the waves singing me to sleep.
Step into my parlor — Victorian breakfast delights
I awake to the crisp blue sky that creates the perfect backdrop to make the Heceta Head Lighthouse pop in the view from my bed. I don’t want to leave this cocoon of bliss, but the seven-course breakfast awaits downstairs.
Each course is presented with thoughtful fanfare and delicate dishes, and I talk about the Oregon Coast with a couple sitting across from me, visiting from Salem. We discuss the special feeling of this location and the hike to the Hobbit Trail I plan to make after checkout.
The Hobbit Trail — “Middle Earth” hike delights
The four-mile round trip hike to Hobbit Beach and back checks about every box I’d want on a quintessential Oregon Coast nature walk: a lighthouse, views from jagged cliffs, fantasy forests, regular forests, path through salal thickets, moss draping over tree branches, a grotesque crab shell collection, and, of course, an expansive uncrowded stretch of sandy beach.
The journey feels like something out of Lord of the Rings, so the Hobbit Trail and Hobbit Beach are very aptly named. I return to my vehicle energized and the perfect amount of tired from the up and down seesaw of activity.
Heceta Head Lighthouse — more around every bend
Next on the docket is a tour of the remaining cliffs along Highway 101, which include the fabulous Sea Lion Caves. The rickety elevator descends into an animal kingdom where these giant sea mammals are king — barking and belching their fish breath toward the crowd.
It doesn’t give me an appetite for seafood, but my hunger entices me to visit the famous dunes of Florence. Like people searching for mushrooms around the massive flows of sand, my foraging for food takes me to the charming historic downtown, along the Siuslaw River, and I find just the right grub at Homegrown. The food quality feels homegrown indeed, and a sign in the restroom mentions that I’m supporting over 10 local families by eating here.
Even though my adventure continues for a few more days, the Heceta Head Lighthouse experience is one for the memory books. In addition to all the obvious wow of a scene from a movie, the way my time here seemed to open up my soul to the true mystery of nature’s power makes me both shudder and smile.
Interactive Map — Heceta Head and environs
Just passing through? No problem
Follow signs on Highway 101 for the Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint (that’s a mouthful!) down the road to the beach. Day-use parking is $7 and there is a machine that accepts credit cards. While the spaces next to the beach were wide open when I visited, I also noticed an auxiliary parking area opposite the bridge. The beach provides great views of Heceta Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast and the lighthouse is visible — albeit trees layer into the view.
The hike from the parking area to the Lighthouse is about half a mile on a paved uphill roadway with no steps. Near the Bed & Breakfast, there is a gift shop with a restroom. While the charming Lightkeeper’s House is closed to non-guests (they’re very strict about this), you can still walk in front of the white picket fence to snap photos.
If you want one iconic hike for your visit to the Oregon Coast, the Heceta Head Trail to the Hobbit Trail (leading to the beach) is it! A statuesque lighthouse, sweeping coastal views, interesting forests, and the fabulously mossy Hobbit Beach Trail really surprise and delight the entire way. It’s a four-mile round trip from the parking lot, and the 800-foot elevation gain in each direction will keep your heart beating.
The alternative, easier way to experience the Hobbit Trail is to park along Highway 101 at the trailhead that is only a half-mile to the beach. It is located about a mile north of the Heceta Head Lighthouse turn-off from Highway 101. The trail is relatively easy but there are areas of moderate uphill climb and a few steps along the way.
The best view to capture the Lighthouse and the Bed & Breakfast building is on the bridge crossing Cape Creek on Highway 101. However, the shoulder is narrow so do be extremely careful. Alternatively, there is a convenient pull-out marked “Lighthouse and Sealion Vantage Point” about a mile south of the State Park (heading toward Florence).
If you go — getting there and B&B tips
Driving to Haceta Head Lighthouse
Heceta Head Lighthouse is in between the towns of Yachats and Florence on the Central Oregon Coast — about 14 miles from each. Most people drive here from other places on the Coast or the population centers in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. It makes sense to integrate Heceta Head with either an epic drive along the entire Oregon Coast or a combination trip (like the one this article is based upon).
Here are some general driving distances for reference:
- From Eugene, Oregon (the closest point to Interstate 5) — 90 minutes, 73 miles.
- From Portland, Oregon — 3+ hours (depending on traffic), 183 miles.
- From Astoria, Oregon (the northernmost city on the Oregon Coast) — 4+ hours, 171 miles.
- From Seattle, Washington — 6+ hours (depending on traffic), 356 miles.
Flying to Oregon
If you’re coming from farther away, the Eugene Airport (EUG) would be the easiest option. You can book nonstop flights from Seattle, San Francisco, LAX, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and Denver — and of course through those hubs from anywhere in the world. Portland International Airport (PDX) is the largest airport in Oregon and would provide additional service options.
Helpful tips when staying at the Haceta Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast
The Bed & Breakfast is an amazing experience, but since there are only 6 rooms it could be considered a splurge. Here is the rundown on the rooms:
- Mariners I & II have direct ocean views and are the most desirable.
- Lightkeeper’s Room is the one I enjoyed and I loved the view of the lighthouse. The bathroom is across the hall (not shared) and only has a claw foot tub, which I didn’t mind.
- Victoria’s Room faces the garden and has a private bathroom with shower. This is a cozy room.
- Queen Anne Room is cool, with the four post queen bed and also has views of the garden. This room shares a bathroom with the Cape Cove Room and has a great claw foot tub.
- Cape Cove Room looks toward the cool bridge, but shares a bathroom across the hall with claw foot tub. Probably the least desirable room.
This is not a place to get in late and leave early. The essence is in enjoying the golden hour from the chairs on the porch and then taking in the sunset at the lighthouse — then savoring the truly delectable breakfast the next morning. Tips to maximize your experience here:
- Breakfast is served promptly at 8:30AM (this may change but confirm with the house) and takes at least an hour.
- Check out is 11 AM but they allow vehicles to stay parked in the private lot until about 2:30 PM, which makes the perfect opportunity to check out, hike the Haceta Head Trail, and return in time to fetch your car.
- Not entirely clear ahead of time, but there is a private driveway from Highway 101 (just before the sign to the State Park if heading south) that leads to parking adjacent to the B&B. Be looking because it sneaks up fast (mentioned above).
- The B&B has WIFI which is okay. There isn’t reliable cell service but near the Lighthouse seems to have some signal. But this is the type of place enjoyed “unconnected”.
- The house has a number of fun packages to help you celebrate special occasions. Take a look at their website for more details.
Places to stay other than the B&B
It is easy to experience most of the wonderful parts of Heceta Head without staying at the B&B. If you’re looking for lodging options check out my article on Yachats, Oregon. Searose Beach would be a great area to search on Airbnb or VRBO and there are some quirky places in and around Yachats. There are great camping options and, of course, Florence, Oregon also has a large variety of options.
Need help planning an Oregon Coast itinerary?
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