The Oregon coastline has historically been equal parts captivating and hazardous for water traffic. Born from necessity, the state’s lighthouses are no longer the once relied-upon structures they were originally constructed to be. Thanks to advances in maritime technology, the beacons along Oregon’s coast have transitioned primarily into photogenic cultural icons that enjoy postcard-worthy placement.
But beyond human history and limitless selfie backdrop possibilities, there is still one illuminated lighthouse that affords the opportunity to experience what a treacherous winter evening on the coast was like from the keeper’s perspective. Only your stay won’t include any of the dirty work, and you’ll still be rewarded with a seven-course gourmet breakfast in the morning.
The former lighthouse keeper’s cottage, 14 miles south of Yachats, has been lovingly restored as the Heceta Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast, home to six rooms that can accommodate up to 15 guests per night. And because the lighthouse is a day-use state scenic viewpoint with no campground, the only way to experience the light show at night is by staying at the B&B.
The 56-foot-tall Heceta Head Lighthouse is one of Oregon’s premier landmarks. The circa 1894 pillar sends beams 21 miles out to sea and is the brightest light on the Oregon Coast. Depending on whom you talk to, it may or may not also be haunted. What’s indisputable, however, is the quality of the classic views from both the lighthouse and the lightkeeper’s home. Pro tip: One of the best views of Heceta Head that does, in fact, regularly make its way onto postcards and refrigerator magnets, can be had from the Sea Lion Caves just south.
The keeper’s cottage is also a hell of a place to hunker down in inclement weather. Listen to the waves crash against the shoreline, watch the raindrops assail the windows of your room, and observe the Fresnel lens-borne light cast out into the darkness. For brave and appropriately attired souls, a time-honored tradition is a hike through the forest to Hobbit Beach or take a nighttime walk to the lighthouse. If you happen to be there on a clear evening, you can watch the beams rotate alternately through forest trees and out into the Pacific under a starlit sky. Either way, it’s a privilege reserved exclusively for overnight guests, and it is magic. If you happen to be staying in the Lightkeeper’s Room that evening, you’ll also be the temporary owner of the most unique nightlight in Oregon.
In the morning, a 90-minute, seasonal seven-course breakfast is one of the best on the coast. No worries if you happen to be staying more than one night as the locally sourced menu changes daily. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better way to end a trip or start the day. As Oregon experiences go, it’s one you should add to your list and put a star next to it.
GO: Heceta Head Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast, 92072 US-101 South Yachats, 541-547-3696, hecetalighthouse.com.