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From Puerto Rico to San Diego, New York to LA, up the California Coast and all over Florida, I’ve experienced more US beaches in the past year than perhaps all my previous years combined.

I’ve compared all their various shades of glittering sand, seashells, and sunshine, and come to a conclusion: by far the prettiest US beach I visited this year is Cannon Beach in Oregon.

Jim and I discovered Cannon Beach on a crisp spring day during our Oregon road trip. It has a typically relaxed beach atmosphere, but with a twist to accommodate the cooler weather that rarely breaks 70F: wetsuits for almost everyone in the water, and layers including light weight scarves for those playing in the sand and strolling.

But the thing that makes this beach so unique and worthwhile are its unusual rock formations picturesquely backlit in a haze of glory. They’re known as Haystack Rock and the Needles.

Their sheer cliffs jut up dramatically from Cannon Beach’s sandy shores. Chaotic crashing waves alternate with serene eddies of pooled water surrounding them. The ocean breaths back and forth against the rock while the salt spray swirls with the birds on the wind. A dozen beach-goers turned amateur photographers try to capture the scene as clouds fly by.

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It’s worth putting on that extra layer.

Bonus:  A half hour drive north along the coast from Cannon Beach is the shipwreck of the Peter Iredale, and just beyond that is the quaint coastal city Astoria.

— Laura Rowley

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Written by Laura Rowley

I am an artist, flight attendant, and travel blogger.

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