The majority of people enjoy Bandon’s beautiful sights from land. However, another world awaits you from the water! And when it comes to water, Bandon has a lot to enjoy. Many locals and visitors alike take to boats and kayaks for a wholly different experience. From whalewatching to birdwatching, from fishing to photography, many activities can be enjoyed in a new way floating and paddling on rivers, lakes and in the ocean.
Kayaking on the South Coast of Oregon is an outdoor activity that can be enjoyed year-round and enjoyable for all ages, even the first time out. It provides a new perspective on the scenery and, a quiet approach in a canoe or kayak rewards paddlers with up-close views of birds, fish and other wildlife. Solo, in a tandem kayak or in a group, kayaking can provide a peaceful and beautiful experience that one just can’t find in any other sport.
Weather tips: The wind typically blows from the north in the summer and from the south in the winter, so keep that in mind when planning your trips. Your best bet for calm air is first thing in the morning, especially when paddling on exposed water. Heading out early also minimizes the dazzling reflection of the sun on the water on clear days.
About Wildlife: While paddling, you will likely see birds and other wildlife of all sorts. Don’t be surprised to see blue herons, snowy egrets, ospreys, and turkey vultures as well as river otter. As always, keep a respectful distance from the wildlife. Binoculars or your camera’s zoom lens will help you see the animals well without having to approach them.
The Coquille River and the New River provide excellent calm, flat water paddling. Picturesque and sheltered, the Coquille River takes paddlers right from Old Town in Bandon past such sights as old abandoned boats and historic townsights, Bullards Beach State Park and into the Bandon National Wildlife Refuge, an oasis for endangered birds and fish. The New River, about 10 miles from Bandon, runs 9 miles parallel to the ocean shoreline and makes its way to Floras Lake in the nearby community of Langlois. It is a home for many coastal birds, salmon and harbor seals.
The New River runs parallel to the ocean’s edge and is an interesting consequence of flooding and the ever changing shoreline. It originates from Floras Creek in Langlois and runs north 10 miles or so to the ocean. It is typically calm and can be accessed at the BLM Storm Ranch area at the end of Croft Lake Lane, about 10 miles south of Bandon. While there, enjoy the public acres on the many trails that run through it!
The Sixes and Elk Rivers, south of Bandon by approximately 15 miles are both designated Wild and Scenic. Although definitely scenic, the paddling on these rivers is by no means wild.
Garrison Lake, located approximately 27 miles south in the town of Port Orford, is a shallow lake with many arms to explore. It is a great spot for birdwatching, and it’s quite easy to pull your boat on shore to explore the beach.
The Coos Bay area, approximately 25 miles north of Bandon offers more kayaking options in at the South Slough and around Charleston where you can enjoy wildlife, wetlands and lighthouses. The Coos Bay Estuary is fed by over two dozen freshwater tributaries and spreads nearly 20 square miles, creating opportunities for year-round paddling. See the Oregon’s Adventure Coast website for more information.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the possible kayaking experience in the Bandon area. For help getting started, visit ORcoastkayak.com, and be sure to check out local author Ron Wardman’s book Oregon South Coast Canoe and Kayak Guide, the best guide to paddling the area.
The water is waiting for you…get out on it!