Head out of Bandon on Beach Loop Road, and you'll soon see why the rocks are a big draw. Wind and waves have sculpted shoreline monoliths into contorted spires and twisted shapes. The first good place to view the rocks and get down to the beach is at Coquille Point, at the end of 11th Street. Here you'll find a short, paved interpretive trail atop a bluff overlooking the beach, rock monoliths, and the river mouth. There's also a long staircase leading down to the beach. From here you can see Table Rock and the Sisters. From the Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint you can see the area's most famous rock, which resembles a face gazing skyward. Nearby stand rocks that resemble a dog, a cat, and kittens. A trail leads down to the beach from the viewpoint, so you can go out and explore some of the rocks that are left high and dry by low tide. South of the rocks, along a flat stretch of beach backed by dunes, there are several beach access areas, all of which are within Bandon State Natural Area.
Across the river from downtown Bandon, you'll find Bullards Beach State Park (tel. 541/347-3501; www.oregon.gov/oprd/parks). Within the park are beaches, a marsh overlook, hiking and horseback-riding trails, a picnic area, a campground, and a boat ramp. Fishing, crabbing, and clamming are all very popular. In the park you'll also find the 1896 Coquille River Lighthouse. This lighthouse is one of the only lighthouses to ever be hit by a ship -- in 1903 an abandoned schooner plowed into the light. Mid-April through October, tours of the lighthouse are offered; call for hours and days.
At Bandon, as elsewhere on the Oregon coast, gray whales migrating between the Arctic and Baja California, Mexico, pass close to the shore and can often be spotted from land. The whales pass Bandon between December and February on their way south and between March and May on their way north. Gray days and early mornings before the wind picks up are the best times to spot whales. Coquille Point, at the end of 11th Street, and the bluffs along Beach Loop Road are the best vantage points.
More than 300 species of birds have been spotted in the Bandon vicinity, making this one of the best sites in Oregon for bird-watching. The Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, which includes 1,853 rocks, reefs, and islands off the state's coast, contains the famous monoliths of Bandon. Among the birds that nest on these rocks are rhinoceros auklets, storm petrels, gulls, and tufted puffins. The puffins, with their large, colorful beaks, are the most beloved of local birds, and their images show up on all manner of local souvenirs. The Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge (tel. 541/347-1470; www.fws.gov/oregoncoast/bandonmarsh/index.htm), at the mouth of the Coquille River, is another good spot for bird-watching. In this area you can expect to see grebes, mergansers, buffleheads, plovers, and several species of raptors.
If you'd like to ride a horse down the beach, contact Bandon Beach Riding Stables, 54629 Beach Loop Rd. (tel. 541/347-3423), south of Face Rock. A 1-hour ride is $40 and a 2-hour sunset ride is $50.
The world-class Bandon Dunes Golf Course, 57744 Round Lake Dr. (tel. 888/345-6008; www.bandondunesgolf.com), a classic Scottish-style links course, is Oregon's only oceanfront golf course and has made Bandon a major golfing destination. The course, notorious for its blustery winds, has been compared to Pebble Beach and St. Andrews. The summer greens fees are $220 for resort guests and $275 for nonguests ($110 for your second 18 holes). November to April, you can play here for $75 to $220. This is a walking course, and no golf carts are allowed; caddies are available for an additional $55.
Bandon Crossings Golf Course, 87530 Dew Valley Lane (tel. 888/465-3218 or 541/347-3232; www.bandoncrossings.com), an 18-hole course 5 miles south of town on U.S. 101, is the area's newest golf course and is an economical alternative to Bandon Dunes. Green fees are between $45 and $75 in the summer.
If that's out of your price range, there's always the Old Bandon Golf Links, 3235 Beach Loop Dr. (tel. 541/329-1927; www.oldbandongolflinks.com), which offers a scenic 9 holes not far from the famous Face Rock. The greens fee is $18 for 9 holes. This course rents pre-1900 and 1920s vintage golf clubs for golfers who want to play the game the way it used to be.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.