13 miles S of Lincoln City, 13 miles N of Newport, 70 miles W of Salem
Unlike other coastal towns in Oregon, Depoe Bay isn’t centered around a strollable beach, but around a giant bay and a tiny harbor. In fact, Depoe Bay claims to be the smallest harbor in the world—all of 6 acres. Yet this miniscule and very protected port is home to more than 100 fishing boats and Coast Guard cutters. All of these boats must leave or enter the harbor through a narrow channel that’s little more than a crack in the rocky coastline. During stormy seas, it’s almost impossible to get in or out of the harbor safely.
Shell mounds and kitchen middens around the bay indicate that Native Americans long ago called this area of the Central Oregon coast home. In 1894, the U.S. government deeded the land surrounding the bay to a Siletz Indian known as Old Charlie Depot. Charlie had taken his name from the army depot where he worked. Old Charlie later changed his name to Depoe, and when a town was founded here in 1927, it took the name Depoe Bay.
Though most of the town is a bit off the highway, you’ll find a row of touristy souvenir shops, restaurants, and charter-fishing and whale-watching companies on the inland side of U.S. 101, above the harbor. A sidewalk on the other side of the highway serves as a promenade along this rocky section of the Oregon coast.