Why you should care
Because sometimes you just need to relax and do nothing else.
The OZY Top 25: Each week we share an irresistible vacation hideaway, chosen by OZY staff.
There’s not a lot going on in Bandon, Oregon. After all, the ethereal coastal city is known for a big rock. But it may be the most blissful boredom you’ll ever experience.
Five hours south of Portland, through tunnels of moss-cloaked pines, sits this quiet seaside city of about 3,000. Lined by rugged cliffs, the merciless beaches are marked by boulders that jut from the Aegean-hued water, the most famous being the tenderly etched Face Rock. And that’s why people return here year after year: to walk for miles along unswimmable beaches and to stand still at sunset and watch the reflection in the water change from shades of orange to shades of purple.
Unless you’re a golfer. Then you go to play unplayable golf.
When Bandon Dunes — considered by many to be one of the ultimate golf meccas and named for the wind-swept dunes that dramatize it — came to this languishing logging town in 2004, it brought with it 500+ employees, four 18-hole courses, a 13-hole par 3 course, a 2,000-acre putting green and a steady drove of white old men (and their wallets). While Bandon-by-the-Sea has retained much of its understated charm, the addition of a few fancy eateries to cater to the newly acquired patrician clientele have definitely upped its appeal.
Planning your trip to Bandon …
- Best time of the year to visit: May through October.
- Hotels in town vary from about $100 to $200 a night. Or there’s also cliffside home rental.
- Green fees for Bandon Dunes guests run about $250 during peak season, plus you’ll probably want a caddie. Go during an off-peak month (be sure to bring water-proof gear) and the price is less than half.
- Beyond golfing and eating, though, most of the activities (such as hiking through tropicalesque rain forest to Golden and Silver Falls) are free.
Situated just a few miles north of the quaint (and tinier than most) downtown, the Bandon Dunes resort partially recedes into the Pacific Northwest forest while the rest reaches all the way to the cliff’s edge. It’s this unique and varied terrain that made it possible to build one of the rare true links-style courses in the states. This Scottish-inspired design is distinguished by unforgiving fairways, treacherous bunkers and greens the size of football fields. For the 18-handicappers accustomed to lush grass and two-putts, Bandon Dunes is an ego check.
But it’s the feeling of walking (no carts allowed) down a vast fairway, with the sprawling ocean along one side, old-growth firs on the other and the late afternoon sun above, that will stick with you. “I would describe it as heaven,” says 30-year-old Michael Chupka, who moved here as a young golf pro eight years ago, never thinking he would stay almost a decade.
For those who don’t golf, though, it’s books, crab and nothing (personally one of my favorite activities). “I would say we’re more what we aren’t rather than what we are,” says Margaret Pounder, owner of the Bandon Coffee Cafe and president of the Chamber of Commerce.