Cool Caves, Cajoling Caverns of the Oregon Coast
(Oregon Coast) – If you want to do any real exploring at all – and not just hit the most populated beaches that lay in the middle of any coastal town – this is where the true treasures are found. Some of the best pleasures of the coastline are not in the sand at all, but in the rocky cliffs that tower over the sands. (Above: Inside the bigger cave at Bob Creek)
In these places, you may find the awe-inspiring caves – the semi-secretive cubbyholes of basalt that inspire the imagination and fire up immediate curiosity. Here are a few places you'll find them:
At Bob Creek Wayside, south of Yachats, more tide pools than humans populate this obscure but fascinating place. They really emerge at lower tides, clinging to odd, mushroom-shaped rocky blobs at the southern end.
At this end, there's also a series of sea caves. First, you'll encounter a small one next to a huge boulder that creates a sort of arch by leaning up against the cliff. On the other side of the arch, there's a sizable sea cave that allows you to walk inside and check out the freaky debris deposited there by the tides. Water is dripping from the top and it gets a little dark, so watch the slippery stuff. You probably don't want to amble around the weird shapes at the very end of the cave, because things can get dangerous.
Just a few miles north of Bob Creek, you'll find Neptune State Park. It's a pretty place, lodged in the middle of forestland and rather easy to drive past if you're not looking carefully. There are picnic tables, restrooms and a sandy beach that changes into a series of craggy, rock landmasses. Continue walking north, over the creek, and you'll bump into a funky little sea cave on the bend going around to the beach that wanders northward.
Inside the cave
This cave is interesting geologically, apparently a little puzzling to experts. It's clearly mostly basalt – once lava that came pouring out here millions and millions of years ago, most likely from around Cape Perpetua. But it has an odd red to it.
Seaside geologist Tom Horning said this reddish color could come from either a lot of iron in the mix or from whatever else comprises this mix of basalt and other rocks. That iron or other material then weathered and became red.
Along the Three Capes Tour, west of Tillamook, sits the tiny town of Oceanside. There, you'll find not a natural cave but a manmade tunnel leading through the headland to a wondrous hidden spot. These days, Oceanside seems to have wound up back on the radar of tourists, so it's exactly hidden anymore. But go through that concrete structure and there are other sea caves to explore - big and small - plus numerous interesting rocky slabs to play around and copious beachcombing possibilities.
Down around Florence, the Heceta Head Lighthouse and Devil's Elbow State Park ooze fun and intrigue in all the ways to explore it. Directly below the lighthouse sits a sizable sea cave you should probably never go to. Perhaps on extreme low tide events it's more accessible.
However, the best you can do is dart out on an out-going wave and take a sneak peek from behind some of the rocks here. Maybe if you're lucky, the tide will even be far enough out to take some brief photos.
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