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Best Beaches of the Oregon Coast at Nighttime: Safest, Most Impressive

Published 09/25/2016 at 4:21 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Arch Cape at night, near Cannon Beach

(Oregon Coast) – The pleasures of the Oregon coast beach at night are extremely underrated. Finding a dark beach with no light interference on a clear eve will make for something wondrous. The stars explode around you. Once your eyes adjust to the dark you see things in a whole new way. And of course, there's the mind-bending experience of seeing glowing sand on the beaches (created by tiny, bioluminescent phytoplankton). (Above: Arch Cape at night, near Cannon Beach).

There are also quite a few intrepid treasure hunters who hit the beaches long after dark. Many are looking for agates, but some are searching for a wide variety of other things. You can often see someone wandering the near the tide line, even at 2, 3 or 4 in the morning, frequently with a flashlight or two, then stooping to check out a spot.

At other times, a nocturnal stroll on the sands can one be a stunningly romantic thing. And don't forget a nice beach bonfire and its possibilities.

Whatever your reason, not all beaches are good for nighttime wandering. It's important to keep safety in mind when hitting the beaches at night. Carry a flashlight, stay far from the tideline and stick to broad, sandy beaches. Make sure you're dealing with fairly calm conditions and tides that are far from any structures or cliff walls that could pin you.

You can, of course, switch the flashlight off, once you've become accustomed to your surroundings. In fact, you need to in order to see the glowing sand phenomenon, or to let your eyes get used to the new and beautifully alien surroundings. But you need to be certain of what the tide is doing.

You'll want to keep your flashlight on at least half the time to make sure you see the patterns of the tides and if anything large like a log is floating out there. Also, tripping over objects in the dark is no fun.

Some beaches are easier than others to get to as well. Here is a list of spots along the Oregon coastline that are good – and bad – at night.

Also note that some beach accesses indicate they are closed between certain hours, so watch the signage.

Warrenton to Gearhart: All of it is big enough for a safe walk, but watch places like Sunset Beach or Gearhart for cars at night on the sand.

Seaside. Awesome for walking hand-in-hand at night because it remains fairly well lit.. Those same lights don't allow you to see stuff like glowing sand, however.

Cannon Beach. None of it is brightly lit, and most of the beach accesses are low and easy to get down. Great for meteors or glowing sand.

Manzanita. Take a flashlight and you'll be fine going down the slightly tricky accesses. The beach is pitch black as well, but that allows you to see cool stuff.

Rockaway Beach. Most accesses are fairly well lit, they're mostly easy to get down, and they're low. The beach is broad and quickly becomes pitch black, but once your eyes have adjusted it's a great place for spotting glowing sand.

Oceanside: This one is not recommended at all for walking at night, except to the south. It's not very broad and it's pitch black, so evading the surf is problematic. When the tide is far out, as it often is in summer, it may be workable. Make sure you carry sufficient lighting and be certain the tide is far from you. It can be good for agate hunting, but stick to the broader southern end. Do not attempt to go through the tunnel at night.

Netarts at Happy Camp: Generally a nice, broad beach that gets dark not far from the roads and accesses.

Tierra Del Mar: This beach is extremely broad and very safe in calm conditions, and there's absolutely no lights from hotels or street lights. However, if vehicles are present on this beach (you can drive on parts of it), stay away. You could get hit.

Pacific City. Well lit in parts, broad and easy access, but watch for vehicle traffic. Farther south by Bob Straub State Park is also amazing. Do not wander onto Cape Kiwanda at night.

Neskowin: It's pitch black everywhere, but once you get onto the larger stretches of sand you're golden. Watch the creek, however, which sits between you and Proposal Rock.

Lincoln City: Almost all the accesses here are easy and comfortable to up and down. Some beaches are darker than others. The pier at Siletz Bay is also stunning at night, but watch your stop along all the big logs should you decide to walk around the bay to the open ocean beach.

Glenede Beach and Lincoln Beach. These are fine on calmer nights, but they're an absolute no-no – even during the day – in wintry high tide periods.

Depoe Bay area: Do not wander out onto the rocks here or at places nearby like Rodea Point. The big plus, however, is that even on stormy nights (maybe especially then), you're guaranteed a great show if you stick to the seawall or parking lot vantage points.

Newport: Generally, all of it is excellent for nocturnal wandering, except most of Moolack Beach and some of Beverly Beach should be considered off-limits at night because their accesses are difficult even during the day. .

Seal Rock to Waldport: Definitely plenty of broad beaches in this area, especially at Lost Creek, the Bayshore district or Driftwood State Park. The southern access at Seal Rock won't be a good idea, nor will the tiny sands of the Alsea Bay, however.

Yachats: Stick to the 804 Trail and you'll still see tons of fascinating sights at night. Do not go wandering onto the rocks as you won't always see what's there.

South of Yachats: It's probably a good idea to stay away from most of the beaches here at night, like Bob Creek or Strawberry Hill, as the accesses are tricky. Some, like Neptune State Park or Muriel O. Ponsler are broad and safe, however. It's probably best not to be around the Devil's Churn at night or close to Cape Perpetua because of the bear population. Where to stay in these areas - Where to eat - Maps and Virtual Tours


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