Central Oregon Coast
Brandon Beach - Bandon Beach is probably the most popular beach on the Oregon Coast for photography. The beach is easy to access and enjoys some wonderfully shaped sea stacks. You could easily spend several hours to several days walking up and down the beach finding unique coastal compositions.
The main area for photography is a 1-mile stretch just south of the Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint. There are several great sea stack shapes, with Merlin’s hat and Face Rock being the most famous.
Weather conditions on the southern Oregon Coast are unpredictable, so you sometimes have to wait for the perfect sunset. But when it happens, it is simply amazing!
Trail Difficulty (2 out of 5)
I would rate the difficulty of this trail as a 2 on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being most difficult). The hike down to Bandon Beach is simple, but you have to walk down 50-75 stair steps. The primary beach for photography runs for about 1 mile. Unless it is high tide, it is easy to walk up and down without many concerns.
I usually wear my waders as I don’t like wet socks, but you can easily go barefoot or wear sandals, shoes, or hiking boots.
GPS Coordinates & Elevation
4 Ft Elevation
Google Maps Birds-Eye-View
Click on image to enlarge
CLICK HERE to get driving directions to Bandon Beach parking lot.
Bandon Beach is on the Oregon coast in the town of Bandon, OR. To get to Bandon Beach, take US-101 through town and turn right (west) on 11th St. Follow 11th for 1 mile and turn left on Beach Loop Rd. Stay on Beach Loop Rd. for 0.6 mile and turn right into the Face Rock Viewpoint visitors area/parking lot.
There are stairs down to the beach on the left side of the parking lot.
Best Time of Day to Shoot
Bandon Beach is on the Oregon coast, which means most of the time you will be looking westward. Normally, this means the best time to shoot would be late afternoon, evening, or sunset. However, the coastline is sometimes engulfed in a marine layer (dense fog). When the fog rolls in you can shoot this location in either the early morning or at evening/sunset.
Best Time of Year to Shoot
The ocean/beach is not greatly affected by the time of year. The sunset is to the left in the fall /winter/spring and center right in the summer.
What Lens(es) Do You Need
The above shot was taken with a 24mm lens. Depending on the composition you are looking for, you can use anything from a 16mm to a 85mm lens.
There are no permits required.
Direction of the Shot
Bandon Beach runs north and south – most shots will range from 300° to 200°. The direction of the shoot is south at 185°.
Special Nuances of Shot
Photography on Bandon Beach is all about the rock formations/sea stacks (Merlin’s hat and Face Rock are the most famous), the ocean, and the light. Many shots are made with longer exposures to create the silky effect of the flow of the ocean using the sea stacks.
I would suggest scouting the area before evening/sunset to find the composition that is best for you.
Special Equipment Needed
You will need a tripod. If you wish lower your shutter speed to create movement in the ocean, you will need a neutral density (ND) filter. The above image was shot with a 30 second exposure.
Remember, you are on the coast and the spray from the ocean can create problems with your camera/lens. I would suggest you bring some kind of rain sleeve for your camera and lens cloth to wipe down your lens.
Another item to consider are waders/wet shoes, as you will most likely be walking/sitting in water.
Number of Other Photographers to Expect
Bandon Beach is a popular location for tourists and photographers. At times, you will be sharing the beach with many other people, but there is lots of beach to go around.
The weather on the Oregon coast is mild in the spring, summer, and fall, and it rains about 75 inches a year. Winter can be cold, wet, and produce strong storms/waves.
The Oregon coastline can often be totally “socked in” from the marine layer (dense fog). Be sure to bring rain gear.
I use Verizon, and I had cell service everywhere on the beach and in the town of Bandon.
Bandon is a very nice town on the southern Oregon coast with plenty of lodging and restaurants.
For camping my favorite place is Bullards Beach State Park. This is one of the best state parks in Oregon, with over 100 RV and camping sites, hot showers, and an easy 1-mile walk to the beach. As far as lodging, I have stayed at the Windermere on the Beach several times. It is a great location (right on the beach), with nice folks and is an easy walk to the Face Rock area.
Nearby camping and lodging
Camping - click on the campground below for directions
Bullards Beach State Park – 2 miles north of Bandon.
Lodging - click on the lodging below for a TripAdvisor review
Windermere on the Beach
3250 Beach Loop Rd, Bandon, OR
355 US-101, Bandon, OR
Best Western Inn At Face Rock
3225 Beach Loop Rd, Bandon, OR
Bandon is a nice sized town with plenty of places to eat (some better than others). However, keep in mind the town rolls up pretty early.
My favorite place for a nice relaxing dinner is Edgewaters. They have a friendly staff, a nice menu, good seafood/steaks, and a nice selection of wine. For breakfast, the locals eat at the Minute Café, and for a sweet tooth, I enjoy Bandon Baking Co & Deli.
Nearby Restaurants - click on the restaurant below for yelp review
480 1st St SW, Bandon, OR
Bandon Baking Co & Deli
160 2nd St SE, Bandon, OR
145 2nd St SE, Bandon, OR
The only laundry mat I know of in Bandon is Lydi Anna’s Laundromat on 55 Michigan Ave. SE, Bandon, OR.
Other Photography Opportunities Around
The closest airports are:
North Bend, OR, US (OTH) – 50 miles away. This small airport limited airline services: PenAir, United Express and United Airlines (seasonal).
Eugene, Oregon (EUG) - (150 miles) is a larger regional airport servicing: Alaska Airlines, Delta, American Airlines, Emirates, Air France, Copa, Lufthansa and United.
Portland International airport (PDX) – (250 miles) is a full international airport with services to most of the major
Area Guides and Workshops
If you were looking for a GREAT photography guide for Pacific Northwest (Oregon and Washington areas) - I can highly recommend Mark Metternich. I have taken workshops with Mark in the past and he has been hosting workshops in the Pacific Northwest for many years.
Mark knows all the VERY best places to take you and just the right time to be there - to help you get the shot. He is a great photographer, an expert at photoshop, an excellent guide/instructor and a super nice guy.
The Photographer's Ephemeris is a very valuable tool for landscape photographers to determine the direction of the sunrise/sunset & moonrise/moonset from any place on earth on any day (past and future). Click here to take you to The Photographer's Ephemeris for this location.