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Short Sands Beach – Surfing & Hiking on the Oregon Coast

I was hiking the Cape Falcon trail at Oswald West State Park, and I saw them down below – the surfers bobbing in the waves of Short Sands Beach

Surfing is one of my favorite things in the world, because no matter how inexperienced (ahem… bad) I am at it, it’s always a ton of fun! Getting in the water in the middle of October hadn’t been on the itinerary for the day, but when I saw them I knew I had to do it! 

I made my way to the Short Sands Beach trailhead, grabbed my surf board, and headed down the short hike to the water. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about Short Sands Beach – whether you’re here to surf, hike, or just enjoy the scenery.

Head’s up: some of these links are affiliate links, so I get a commission if you make a purchase (at no cost to you). But that’s great, because I was going to share anyway, and this helps me keep making free guides for you!

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How to Get to Short Sands Beach

To get to the beach, you’ll need to do a little bit of hiking. The trailhead is located in Oswald West State Park, less than 15 minutes south of Cannon Beach.

Trailhead: 45.76174, -123.95757
Distance: 1.2 mi roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 82 feet
Difficulty: Easy

The trail is paved, and an easy walk, even if you’re carrying a surfboard!

The Best Time to Visit Short Sands Beach

Summer is the most popular time to visit Short Sands Beach. Whether you’re hiking or surfing, this time of year has the best weather! 

But you’ll find dedicated surfers here year round, and the trail is gorgeous even in the Oregon coast rain. You can surf and hike at Short Sands Beach any time of year, as long as you’re prepared with proper cold weather surfing and hiking gear.

What to Bring to Surf at Short Sands Beach

Short Sands beach is a popular surf spot on the Oregon coast. It’s beautiful, with rugged limestone cliffs surrounding Smuggler’s Cove, protecting it from harsh weather. The breaks are even, creating the perfect place to surf, boogie board, swim, or even just relax on the scenic beach. When you go surfing at Short Sands Beach, you’ll need to bring some gear! Here’s what you need before you hit the waves.

A Wetsuit

The waters of the Oregon coast are rarely warm, so a wetsuit is a must. In the summer, a 3/2 mm suit will do the trick and keep you warm. For the colder months, I recommend a 5/4 mm suit with a hood. I didn’t have a hood when I surfed at Short Sands Beach in October, and I got a bit of a brain freeze every time my head was underwater. This suit offers full coverage and is great for cold weather surfing!

A Surfboard

Probably the most important thing for surfing at Short Sands Beach – a surf board.

I’m pretty new to surfing, and if you are too, I recommend a foam board like this one. They’re easy for beginner surfers, more budget friendly, and won’t knock you out when you inevitably get hit with it on the water.

Plenty of more advanced surfers use foam boards, or you can try out a sleeker board like this fish board designed for fun on the waves, or this hybrid board!

If you aren’t a surfer, you can still have fun in the waves! Try out a boogie board or a body board.

Surf Accessories

Those are the must haves for surfing at Short Sands Beach, but here are a few more things you might want to pack!

Surf Wax – make sure your board is waxed so you aren’t slipping off. Cold weather wax like this one is best for surfing at Short Sands Beach.

Surf Board Bag – to make carrying your board on the hike to the beach easier!

Beach Towel – getting out of the water will be cold. A towel can help you dry off and warm up!

Surf Cap – keep your head warm.

Surf Boots – if you surf in the winter, these will help a ton with staying warm.

Water Bottle – don’t underestimate the dehydrating effect of salt water! You may not notice while you’re surfing, but it’s important to hydrate after.

A surfer at Short Sands Beach is walking into the ocean water.
A surfboard is leaning on driftwood at Short Sands Beach.

The Hike to Short Sands Beach

Whether you want to surf, or just relax on the beach, there is a short hike to get to Short Sands Beach. 

The Short Sands Beach Trail is easy – it’s flat, short, and paved the whole way. It’s the perfect hike if you want a quick (but scenic) trail, a place to have a picnic, or if you’re carrying a surfboard!

From the parking lot, you’ll walk under the bridge and continue down a tree lined path. There are mossy trees, lush green ferns, and you’ll be walking alongside the creek! There are several other trails you can take for more woodsy scenery, but they’re all well marked. The signs will point you to Short Sands Beach.

Soon, you’ll cross a wooden bridge over the creek – and here, you’ll get your first glimpse of the beach. 

A picnic table at Short Sands Beach.
The picnic area at Short Sands beach.

There are several picnic tables here with a view of the ocean, but you can continue down the path to end up on the sandy shores of Short Sands Beach.

Here, you can hop in the water, or stay dry and watch the surfers bob on the waves! There’s driftwood to climb on all over, and to your right, you’ll see the Cape Falcon overlook, as well as a coastal waterfall and some rocks that lead into the water.

A waterfall by the ocean at Short Sands Beach.

Where to Stay When You Surf at Short Sands Beach

If Short Sands Beach is a stop on your road trip, or you want to turn this into a fun getaway, there are plenty of places to stay nearby! Oswald West State Park is just a few minutes south of Cannon Beach – a town with plenty of cute accommodations. Here are some of the best places to stay close to Short Sands Beach.

An Adorable Cabin

For a unique place to stay during your trip, check out Hipcamp! It’s like Airbnb for campsites – and you can find yurts, cabins, glamping sites, and more.  There are several cute cabins to stay in near Short Sands Beach, adding a fun experience to your trip, and a great place to relax after a hike!

You can even get $10 off your first booking here!

A Camper van

With a camper van, you get a vehicle and a place to sleep, all in one! This is my favorite way to travel, and you can rent a fully decked out van with Escape Campervans.

Whether you car camp, tent camp, or rent a tiny home on wheels, The Dyrt is the best way to find campsites!

A Beachfront Inn

Close to Oswald West State Park, you’ll find the town of Cannon Beach – with incredible getaways and places to stay for a relaxing trip! Here are a few of the best places to stay.

Tolovana Inn – a beachfront inn with an indoor saltwater pool, hot tub, and sauna!
Webb’s Scenic Surf – just steps from the beach and the iconic Haystack Rock
Puffin Place Cabana – a fully outfitted vacation home for a private stay right on the water

Equally close, but to the south, is Manzanita, Oregon – a smaller town, offering some quiet, beachfront accommodations! Here are the best places to stay in Manzanita.

Cabin on the Coast – a cute, private cabin with a balcony
Edgecliff – mountain views, ocean views, and a hot tub! Just 1.5 miles from Short Sands Beach.
Cottage by the Sea – an adorable, private cottage just a few steps from the ocean

On this map, the little hiker icon will show you the exact location of the Short Sands Beach trailhead,  and the orange bed icons are places to stay!

More Adventures Near Short Sands Beach

Have you hiked the Short Sands Beach trail at Oswald West State Park, or surfed anywhere else along the Oregon coast? Let me know in the comments below! 

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