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Wild Oregon Coast Week: Whales, Wowing Waves, NY Eve, Polar Plunges

Published 12/28/2016 at 5:53 PM PDT - Updated 12/28/2016 at 6:05 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

big waves at Pacific City

(Oregon Coast) – Some massive waves, good sun breaks, a lot of whales and bundles of fun for New Year's Eve and the subsequent polar bear plunges. This is one awe-inspiring week to be on the Oregon coast. (Above: big waves at Pacific City).

Mammoth Waves. At times there's quite a difference between north Oregon coast wave height predictions and those for the central coast, although both will be seeing big breakers.

On the north coast, combined seas are at 15 feet on Thursday, around 11 feet on Friday and Saturday, but up to 22 feet on Sunday. On the central coast, predictions are for about a foot or two higher on each of those days, except Sunday, where wave height will be up around a massive 30 feet. Oregon Coast Weather


Good Samplings of Sun. Not all has been dousing and dreary on the Oregon coast this week, even with the oft-darkened skies and bouts of showers. That looks to continue for much of the week: plenty of sun breaks. Thursday will be mostly sunny (as Wednesday was), Friday brings mostly cloudy conditions but some sun breaks, and Saturday looks to be partly to mostly sunny along the beaches.

Sunday – New Year's Day - is when things get crazy: temps dip into the 30's and there's a chance of rain and snow mix on the beaches. The central coast will see more sun than the north coast over these days. Oregon Coast Weather

Whale Watch Week Goes Swimmingly. It's currently Whale Watch Week (if for some reason you've been living in a cave and haven't heard). Gray whales are in mass migration right now, and with this being one of about three weeks of the peak, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department's Whale Spoken Here program is hosting this festival of all things cetacean. Volunteers are atop about 24 places along the Oregon coast to help you spot the giants of the deep as they pass by – from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. See here for full list.

Those big waves are creating challenges in spotting them, however. When you have wave height such as what's been happening this week, these make for a kind of “trough” which hides the whales.

Still, Luke Parsons – head of the Whale Watch Center in Depoe Bay – said that even though the waves have been making things a bit difficult at times, the whale sightings numbers are good.

“On average they've been seeing ten a day at each location,” Parsons said.

Some places have been seeing more like 20 or 30 a day. Just today (Wednesday), Parsons said the Whale Watch Center spotted 20 whales and Cape Foulweather saw 35. That latter number is really remarkable considering that was only a three-hour period.


Warren House, Cannon Beach

New Year's Eve on the Beach. Few things beat the beach when it comes to kissing the year goodbye.

In Florence, end the new year with the guy who helped inspire the Blue Brothers after John Belushi saw him in Eugene while filming “Animal House.” Portland bluesman Curtis Salgado's trademark black suit, tie and hat were the blueprint for the look of Belushi's and Akroyd's characters in the '70s. Salgado plays the Florence Events Center starting at 9 p.m. $28 - $43. 715 Quince St. Florence, Oregon. 541-997-1994. eventcenter.org.

Live music abounds in Lincoln City. The band White Water is at Snug Harbor Bar & Grill at 9 p.m. (in Taft, southern end of town, 541-996-4976). There's a New Years Party at Rusty Truck Brewery (formerly Roadhouse 101) at 9 p.m. with The Ocean. 541-994-7729.

Celebrate in style with the Lincoln Pops Orchestra at the Lincoln City Cultural Center and its New Year's dance party. Your ticket includes light hors d’oeuvres and a champagne toast at midnight (beer and wine sold separately). 8:30 p.m. $45 per person/$80 per couple. 541-994-9994.

At the San Dune Pub in Manzanita, it's Karaoke from Hell night for New Year's Eve. End the new year on a high note – your high notes, that is. You get to front your own band for one song. Karaoke from Hell features a full, live band made up of actual humans backing you up. 127 Laneda Ave., Manzanita, Oregon. 503-386-5080. www.sandunepub.com

Other suggested bar hotspots for the night: Wing Wa in Depoe Bay – a gloriously goofy dive bar with a crack KJ who sometimes plays along with you on his keyboard. On Hwy 101, Depoe Bay, Oregon. (541) 765-2288. The Warren House in Cannon Beach is deliciously laidback fun, where it seems all the town's cool kids hang. 3301 South Hemlock, Cannon Beach. (503) 436-1130. For some upscale revelry, Fathom's in Lincoln City is the hotspot, with lovely surroundings, a beach view that can't be beat and exceptional food. 4009 SW Highway 101. Lincoln City, Oregon. 541-994-1601 or 800-452-8127. www.spanishhead.com/site/restaurant.html

Polar Bear Plunges. Large waves may make a dent here. These events could be canceled if seas are too rough.

There are three big polar plunges on the Oregon coast. Newport's is the Newport Resolution Run & Polar Bear Plunge. You have a few options in how to participate. 9 a.m. Rogue Brewery. 2320 SE Marine Science Drive, Newport, Oregon. http://www.ardoradventures.com/

There is one at Arch Cape, just south of Cannon Beach. The time is not known.

The Polar Plunge in Manzanita is the most well known. Gather at 10:30 a.m. then hit the waves en masse at 11 a.m. 503 368-4777. At Neahkahnie Beach just north of the intersection of Reed Rd and Nehalem Rd. Look for the fire.

Also noteworthy on New Year's Day is the 7th annual New Year's Peace Walk at Yachats. Begins at 10 a.m. at the Yachats Commons, 441 N. Hwy 101. Hikers will follow a 2.6 mile loop that includes sections of the 804 Trail, the Ya'Xaik Trail and the Gerdemann Botanic Preserve public footpath. Yachats, Oregon. 541-547-3144. Where to stay for these events - Where to eat - Map and Virtual Tour

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