Heceta Head Lighthouse: Sleep extraordinary on the Oregon Coast

Imagine you travel along the Oregon Coast and one morning you wake up in the 125-years old Heceta Head Lighthouse with the sound of the crashing waves in your ears and the wind swishing against the window. Sounds exciting? Then close your eyes again and imagine waking up in a room that was home to several lighthousekeepers, who helped seagoers navigate the Pacific Ocean´s treacherous currents for decades. Would you feel like you are dreaming? It´s 8:30am, you hear a bell ringing and a voice calling “breakfast’s ready”. Opening up the door of your room you´ll smell freshly brewed coffee and sweet pastries. This would then be the second time for you pinching yourself to make sure you aren´t dreaming anymore. Welcome to Heceta Head Lighthouse, an experience rarely to be found. And this is only the beginning of the story. If you are up for an extraordinary stay at the Oregon Coast, this is your place!

standing at Heceta Head B&B porch with Hecate Head Lighthouse in the distance

The history of Heceta Head Lighthouse

When has Heceta Lighthouse been built?

On March 30th 1894 the powerful fresnel lens of Heceta lighthouse sent its first beam to the Pacific Ocean to protect mariners from getting too close to the rugged coastline of the Pacific Northwest.

Heceta Head Lighthouse from above

Thenceforth several lightkeepers lived with their families in an isolated, small community to run the lighthouse. Not many of them could stand it for too long at the cliffs of Heceta Headlands. In the 1930s, when the Highway 101 was under construction and electricity was first installed, the isolated years were over. But at the same time also the duty of the lightkeepers ended with the partially automation of its operations and the retirement of the U.S. Lighthouse Service. In the following years the area was used by Coast Gurads for military purposes. To learn more about the history take a look at Heceta Lighthouse´s website for the full story.

Heceta Head Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast

In 1973 Heceta Head Lighthouse was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. This marked the time, when the US Forest Services decided to open the lighthouse to the public and share its history. Back then the idea of a Bed & Breakfast was born and the original lighthousekeepers home was turned into one a couple of years later. The Bed & Breakfast era started in 1995, when Mike and Carol Korgan were chosen to be the first innkeepers for Heceta Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast. As volunteers they had already started to help restoring the interior and running the business. After they retired their daughter Michelle took over to continue the maintanance of this National Tresure. Since then Heceta Lighthouse is accommodating guests for more then 25 years. It provides an authentic experience taking guests back in time and space to an era where this place was home to the lighthousekeepers and their families. Victorian-era details and the hand-carved wooden staircase have been preserved. The former lighthousekeeper´s house was turned into a really special place, a heritage hotel, that even has been added to the Unique Inns Directory

Heceta Head Lighthouse Bed&Breakfast sitting at the cliffs of the Oregon Coast
Heceta Head Bed and Breakfast drone shot

Heceta Head: The most photographed lighthouse in the US

The former Lighthousekeeper´s home, now “Keeper´s House” is perched on the cliffs of Heceta Head State Park, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the sandy Cape Cove below. The lighthouse itself rises 205 feet / 62 metres high above the ocean and its light is still shining along the Oregon Coast today. It´s said to be the brightest light on the entire Oregon Coast and considered one of the most beautiful lighthouses in the US. With all that in mind Heceta Lighthouse is a place you shouldn´t miss stopping by, even if you are not staying overnight.

Heceta Head Lighthouse sitting on the cliffs, overlooking the Pacific Ocean
Heceta Head Cove, Oregon
Heceta Head Lighthouse fresnel lens

One day at Heceta Head Lighthouse

Start your day right with an exceptional 7-course breakfast

If you get the chance to stay overnight (as the B&B is often fully booked), I would definitely encourage you to do so. The 7-course complimentary breakfast is really outstanding and by far the best breakfast I´ve ever had in the US so far. I would definitely say that the 1.5 hour long procedure (starting at 8:30am) should be the first agenda point on your itinerary and you cannot afford to not miss it. The food is served at the big dining table course by course, so better make sure to get there on time to not miss out on anything. Inbetween you can chat with fellow guests and kick of the day in a relaxed way. And don´t worry: If you stay more than one night: The menu will be different every day! You could actually stay for an entire week without being served the same dishes twice.

Heceta Head Bed & Breakfast 7-course breakfast

Heceta Lighthouse history talk

After breakfast there is usually a history talk, where you can listen to some spooky ghost stories and interesting facts about the lighthouse.

Heceta Head Lighthouse view through window

Bed & Breakfast Wine & Cheese ´clock

Another great opportunity to come together, listen to some lighthouse stories while enjoying a glass of local wine and snacks. The Wine & Cheese Social talks place at 4.30pm every day and is also complimentary like the 7-course breakfast.

Heceta Head Bed and Breakfast Wine Social

Heceta Head Lighthouse tours & vintage style rooms

In the meantime you can join a guided tour of the Heceta Lightstation Interpretive Center (only during summer), explore the surrounding beaches, go for a short hike and view the lighthouse from different angles or simply relax at the spacious porch, watching the waves crash at the shoreline. In the evening you can hang out at the fire place, enjoy a relaxing bath in the vintage tub. Besides all the coziness you should definitely not miss walking up to the lighthouse in the dark, which is another great experience.

Heceta Head B&B vintage rooms
Central Oregon Coast
Heceta Head B&B vintage bath tub

Heceta Head Lighthouse Victorian Christmas

If you are lucky enough to travel between Yachats and Florence in December, you can’t miss the victorian Christmas celebrations at Heceta Head Lighthouse. Some might call it cheesy, others would just love it. But one thing is for sure: The innkeepers have decorated the lighthouse with great attention to detail and turned it into a place of pure coziness. Stormy days can be endured so much more easily here these days.

Activities at Heceta Head State Park

Heceta Head Lighthouse trail to Hobbit Beach

The 0.5 miles / 0,8 km short trail leading to Hobbit Beach starts at the Hobbit Trail Trailhead just off Highway 101. But you can even walk there from the Bed & Breakfast. This 2 miles / 3,2 km long hike takes you behind the lighthouse so you get the chance to see the powerfull fresnel lens at eye level. Just follow the narrow path right behind the lighthouse leading uphill.

hiking the Heceta Head lighthouse trail
in the woods of Heceta Head Lighthouse trail
Heceta Head Lighthouse fresnel lens
Hobbit Beach, Central Oregon Coast

Cape Perpetua, Central Oregon Coast

Cape Perpetua with its iconic spots Thor´s Well, Devil´s Churn and the viewpoint Cape Perpetua Lookout is only a 15 minutes drive North from Heceta Head Lighthouse and especially impressive in wintertimes. Then the official storm watching seasons gets to its climax: Huge waves breaking at the shoreline and spouting horns are the result that attract nature photographers, locals and “storm tourists” alike. But be cautious! Don´t get too close to the water and never turn your back towards the ocean, it can really be dangerous! Read more infos in my Oregon winter roadtrip article.

Cape Perpetua , Central Oregon Coast
Cape Perpetua Overlook Oregon  Coast

Sea Lion Caves, Florence Oregon

With 208 feet (64 metres) Sea Lions Cave is America´s largest sea cave and the second deepest worldwide. The privately owned wildlife preserve and bird sanctuary is home to hundreds of Steller sea lions (Northern Pacific sea lions). While the sea lions stay in the cave during winter months, they move to the rocks outside the cave as soon as breeding and birthing time comes in spring.

Sea Lion Caves Oregon

Actually I am not a huge fan of animal attractions, so I was sceptical about visiting te Sea Lion Caves. Furthermore the entry to the cave is quite pricy: 14 USD per adult. But a monitor at the cashier displays if sea lions are currently in the cave and paying the entry-fee is worth it. As we visited in December, we were lucky to find over 140 Stellar Sea Lions in the cave making huge noise – and smell. Good to know: While visiting the Sea Lion cave you won’t disturb the mamals. You will only spot them from a platform behind a grid, without entering their natural habitat. If the Sea Lion Caves turn out as a highlight of your roadtrip, you will need to figure out yourself. If you are travelling with kids you might consider a brief stop.

hundreds of sea lions at Sea Lion Cave Oregon

Heceta Head Scenic Viewpoint

You can get a nice view of Hecta Head Lighthouse and the Keeper´s House from the stairway leading down to the entry of the cave and the view point off Highway 101 “Lighthouse and Sealion Beach Vantage Point”, just before you reach the Sea Lion Caves from the North.

Heceta Head Lighthouse State scenic viewpoint

How to get to Heceta Head Lighthouse?

Heceta Head Lighthouse is located halfway between the small towns Yachats (14 miles / 22,5 km to the North) and Florence (12 miles /19 km to the South). There is a hair pin curve at mile marker 178, where you have to turn. If you are staying at the lighthouse they will send you the detailed instructions via email. As day visitor you can use the parking lot close to Cape Creek Bridge. During the stormy winter months it can happen that Highway 101 is closed and Heceta Head Lighthouse cannot be reached. So make sure you keep yourself informed about the conditions, especially if you are exploring individually. If you have a reservation the Bed & Breakfast offers a winter weather refund policy and will inform you about road closures.

winding roads leading to Heceta Head Lighthouse
Last but not least: How to pronounce Heceta Head Lighthouse?

Even though Heceta Lighthouse is so rich of history and beauty, one of the most frequently asked questions actually is: How to pronounce Heceta Lighthouse correctly? If you ask 5 peole you will get at least 10 different answers. So your best bet is to ask the innkeepers themselves. But even their answer is multifacated as well: Pronounced “Ha – SEE – Ta” by most, “HECK – ah – Ta” by others.Heceta Head Lighthouse museum


Discover more extraordinary places along the PNW Coast:

A photographer’s guide to Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor, Southern Oregon Coast
Why the Oregon Coast is your perfect winter travel destination
6 reasons why Cape Disappointment (WA) isn’t doesn’t disappoint at all


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QUESTIONS & COMMENTS?

Have you ever been to Oregon and explored the Oregon Coast? Do you like the article, have any suggestions, feedback or recommendations? Leave me a comment! If you like my content, please feel free to share this article with your friends!

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10 comments
  1. Oh you are making me homesick! We missed our Oregon Coast fix this summer with canceled flights from Copenhagen. Love this part of the coast – grew up going to Florence and my family has a house in Yachats. Thanks for sharing this historic stop so beautifully. Cheers from Denmark.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Erin!
    The Oregon Coast really is a special place. I am so happy to call Portland, Oregon, my home-away-from-home. My husband and I love the outdoor opportunities and we feel spoiled for choices every weekend. Hope you are doing fine in Copenhagen as well!? Hopefuly you’ll be able to travel to Oregon soon again!
    Cheers, Stefanie

  3. This is so beautiful and dreamy. Loved the pictures and reading about the history. Definitely adding it to my bucket-list. Thanks for sharing a unique experience.

    1. Hi Sarah,
      Many thanks for reaching out!
      Unfortunately I’m not selling any of these photographs right now. But there will be a print shop coming up later this year. So keep your eyes open.
      Kindly, Stefanie

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