180 miles of Oregon coast travel: Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita,
Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway, Garibaldi, Tillamook, Oceanside, Pacific City,
Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Wadport, Yachats & Florence.
NOTE: for the updated story on this, see Brown
Breakers Mystify Oregon Coast Tourists; Shops Questioned Thick
brown patches of foam are freaking out visitors, but it's a good thing
Spectacular Spring Sights Continue on Oregon
|Spouting Horn, Depoe Bay
(Oregon Coast) – It’s a potpourri of wild,
natural events this spring, as the coastline is full of stuff that is
keeping tourism officials on their toes. From crazy weather like a funnel
cloud, brown spots on the surf, wild waves that continue wow visitors,
whales going bonkers, remnants of prehistoric forests dotting the coastline,
some prime hunting for agates and fossils, and interesting creatures washing
up on the beaches, it’s as if the Pacific Ocean is putting a crazy,
mixed up show that dazzles with enough intensity to rival anything in
Las Vegas several times over.
Best of all, this show is free. Admission is by a full
tank of gas for the ride over.
It’s a sunny Saturday in Depoe Bay, with a couple
fistfuls of moody clouds hovering overhead, threatening to rain on this
bright parade of ocean waves and whale watchers at the Whale Watch Center.
Half a dozen volunteers are gathered inside the oceanfront building, trying
to point out the whales passing by to visitors from who-knows-where.
|Raucous waves at Depoe Bay under the sun
Morris Grover, head of the Whale Watch Spoken Here program,
stands at his post with a pair of binoculars. He practically doesn’t
blink as he waits for one whale to come back and spout again, literally
counting the minutes.
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visitors. 51 oceanfront condos, individually owned and decorated.
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pool, enormous grounds w/ picnic tables - all at quiet southern
end of Seaside. 2316 Beach Drive. 800-548-2846. www.thetidesbythesea.com.
“We’ve already spotted 20 whales, and we’ve
only been open two hours,” he says with glee. There are still plenty
of whales to catch sight of for another month and a half, all the way
to the end of May. Grover is quick to point that out.
But half the show here are the massive waves that come
pounding in with paradoxical ferocity. This is, after all, a nice day
that’s actually a little on the warm side.
Meanwhile, down the street, Depoe Bay’s spouting
horn is shooting off, spraying the passing cars with sea water, which
is a might bit messier to clean off your windshield than mere rain.
|Brown waves at Seaside (photo: Tiffany Boothe/Seaside Aquarium)
The waves are huge, causing the horn to shoot high in the
air. To the untrained eye, they’re the result of a storm the night
before. Or are they?
“Those waves out there were formed probably a day
or two ago,” Grover said. “A storm out there kicks these in,
and it takes a while for them to get here.”
It’s a common sight these days on the Oregon coast.
Big winds out on the ocean are causing spectacular waves. It’s sometimes
like watching winter storms in direct sunlight.
Those waves have caused problems, though. One young girl
from Washington recently had a nearly deadly run-in with a log at Cannon
Beach because of crazed tides knocking stuff around.
At Spanish Head, Lincoln City. Lincoln City’s only resort
hotel built right on the beach with all oceanfront rooms - nestled
against a rugged cliffside overlooking a soft, sandy beach. Dine
in penthouse restaurant and bar, for casual meal or candlelight
dinner. An array of seafood specialties, juicy steaks and other
Northwest favorites, including decadent Sunday buffet. Rooms range
from bedrooms to studios to 1-bedroom suites with microwaves and
refrigerators to full kitchens. Also, wi-fi, spa, saunas, exercise
room and year-round heated swimming pool. Kids will love the game
room and easy beach access. Full-service conference/meeting rooms
for that inspirational retreat; extensive wedding possibilities.
4009 SW Highway 101, Lincoln City. 1-800-452-8127 or 541-996-2161.
The wild waves are augmented by a mysterious run of brown
patches that have been causing tourists to the coast to quiz locals about
oil spills or other pollution.
|Brown stuff washing up on the beaches (photo: Boothe)
It is, in fact, millions and millions of diatoms: the microscopic
creatures that are part of the phytoplankton family. They just happen
to make the sea brown where they congregate.
There’s more on this
This past weekend, the brown goo was floating lazily along
central coast bays, and getting mixed in with breakers there and on the
In Seaside, on Wednesday, the brown spots were especially
heavy. Although Seaside Aquarium’s
Tiffany Boothe said she noticed the stuff had dissipated quite a bit south
of Seaside, and that it wasn’t as prominent in places like Cannon
Gary Dieboldt, owner of Flashback Malt Shoppe in Seaside,
was asked about it so many times he finally called the Seaside Aquarium
to doublecheck on it. “I had about a half dozen, maybe ten people
ask me just today,” Dieboldt said. “They’re thinking
it’s an oil spill or something, or asking if a ship wrecked out
The rest of the coast is filled with one kind of drama
or another. In Tillamook, employees at the police department Tuesday caught
pictures of a funnel cloud hovering over the west end of town. The cold
weather funnel did not touch down or cause any damage, but the somewhat
rare event in Oregon caused quite a media stir.
|Infant velella velella (photo: Tiffany Boothe, Seaside Aquarium)
Up and down the coast, little baby velella velella are
still washing up. These infant versions of the jellyfish known as “purple
sails” usually start washing up in great numbers in early summer.
They quickly start to smell bad as they rot on the beaches.
“But there’s not enough right now to make any
offensive odors, and certainly not enough to cover rocks,” said
Guy DiTorrice, a beach expert from Newport. “Good sign that we'll
see more - and larger ones - as the spring winds turn to summer.”
Other tiny beasties washing up include gooseberries –
otherwise known as comb jellies. Their scientific name is Pleurobrachia,
and Seaside Aquarium’s Boothe says they periodically show up on
the Oregon coast when west winds push them onshore.
|Gooseberry up close: they look like bubbles in the sand
Gooseberries are barely a quarter inch in diameter, and
look like big bubbles sitting by the tide line.
They are actually completely unrelated to jellyfish, although
these translucent, spherical creatures are often mistaken for them. Gooseberries
come with two feathery tentacles, which can be retracted into special
pouches. The name comb jelly refers to the eight rows of hair-like cilia
on their bodies, which vibrate and enables them to swim.
are both residents of near shore and open ocean habitats,” Boothe
said. “They are abundant at times along the West Coast, but as with
all jellies they are not seasonal. They can wash up anytime. They can
swim, but not against the ocean's currents. So like the purple sails,
they are at the mercy of the ocean. Strong west winds will strand them
on the beach.”
|4000-year-old stumps at Newport
The wonders of nature are creating some time-tripping fun
as well. During the winter, extremely low sand levels opened up the view
to strange structures usually buried well beneath the sand. Ancient tree
stumps, from forests anywhere from 2000 years old to 80,000 years old,
popped up everywhere from Brookings to Gearhart. Noted Oregon geologist
Roger Hart pointed out about a dozen sites, including just beneath Cape
Perpetua, south of Waldport, South Beach, Newport, Neskowin, Rockaway
and Hug Point. The ones at Hug Point and near Yachats were reportedly
around 50,000 to 80,000 years old.
DiTorrice says the most highly publicized ones –
in Newport – are mostly covered up, but some evidence still remains
to be seen of these.
“Sands are moving back onto the beaches,” DiTorrice
said. “So, most of the stumps are covered back up again, with a
few still poking their heads out south of Lost Creek and north of Thiel
Creek in Newport.”
Other changes in the landscape are catching regular visitors
off guard, but delighting rock hunters.
Cape Property Services.
Dozens of homes in that dreamy,
rugged stretch between Cannon Beach and Manzanita known as Arch
Cape. Oceanfront and ocean view , or just a short walk from the
All homes are immaculate and smoke free; some pet friendly (with
a fee). Some with broadband, indoor or outdoor hot tubs, fireplaces,
decks, and fire pits or barbecues. Call about tempting winter specials
that go until March (not valid holidays, however). www.archcaperentals.com
“Big Creek at Agate Beach in Newport is back to its
northerly detoured-flow, due to the sand there,” DiTorrice said.
“Rock cobble piles and gravel bars are abundant there. Hunters of
agates, rocks and fossils have been picking through, although these are
also getting covered with the seasonal in-migration of offshore sandbars.
It happens every year.
|The northern beaches of Newport are full of surprises
“There’s still some nice rock collecting south
of Lost Creek and north of Thiel Creek, both south of the bridge out of
the northern end of Newport.”
While the Seaside Aquarium Wednesday went to Cannon Beach to quarantine
a spectacular specimen of a dead elephant seal that had washed up, no
baby seals or molting pups have been seen lately. DiTorrice noted the
notorious spate of dead birds has been seen in his area, however.
“I've been on five of the eight access points here in the last week
and have seen a small handful of the annual dead birds - maybe one or
two per mile of beach,” DiTorrice said.
For those amateur paleontologists, DiTorrice says the north end of Newport
will make for good sight seeing as well – as you’re only allowed
to look, not dig things out.
Beach Rentals, Lincoln City. Perfect for large family
vacations all the way down to a getaway lodging for two - with
over 25 vacation rental homes to choose from. A breathtaking collection
of craftsman or traditional beachfront homes, or oceanview houses
– from one to seven bedrooms. In various areas of Lincoln
City and overlooking the beach, with some in Depoe Bay. All kinds
of amenities are available, like hot tubs, decks, BBQ, rock fireplaces,
beamed ceilings and more. Some are new, some are historic charmers.
Lincoln City, Oregon. 1-(503)-232-5984. www.a1beachrentals.com.
a large boulder with a number of fossil whale bones exposed south of Spencer
Creek at Beverly Beach State Park,” DiTorrice said. “I haven't
seen the boulder for about ten years. It sits just west of the Beverly
Beach store and shows a series of rib bones and a shoulder blade. You
can also see the pick and chisel marks from folks who couldn't find enough
collectible items on the beach and needed to vandalize this rock for their
personal entertainment. Of course, these are the same folks who insist
on chiseling into the sandstone walls/cliffs here and causing all the
erosion that's moving the highway. But that's another story.”
For the beachcomber looking for sundry treasure, DiTorrice
said this season is playing out well.
“It has been a good winter for commercial crabbing
floats, especially those painted with neon and fluorescent colors,”
DiTorrice said. “I picked up over two dozen of these in the past
few months, compared to normally finding a handful during our winter walks.
Also found twice as many of the white ‘banana’ floats that
are usually attached to fishing nets. I’d be happy to trade them
with anyone needing a quality, recycled inventory.”
|Low sand levels and low tides mean strange
sights, like this geological oddity at Fogarty Beach on the central
You can reach DiTorrice for these wacky trades at www.oregonfossilguy.com.
Spring means spring cleaning for a lot of people, but for avid beachcombers
like DiTorrice, it means more discoveries, and maybe more stuff at home,
rather than less.
Starfish Manor Hotel. 17 lavish suites
- all beachfront - feature Jacuzzi or outdoor hot tub, gas fireplace,
luxury robes & linens, TV, two-headed showers. Three large suites
have kitchens. Private deck w/ BBQ available. No smoking or pets.
Perfect for romantic getaway, honeymoon. 2735 NW Inlet Ave., Lincoln
City, Oregon 1-800-972-6155. www.onthebeachfront.com
“I’ve heard stories about some old glass floats
popping up here and there, but have yet to see any one showing them off
or confirming sited locations,” DiTorrice added. “Guess it
was my year to help with the beach clean-up by packing home the Styrofoam
floats which decorate my front yard. It’s hard to miss my house
in Agate Beach: beach rocks surrounding the newspaper drop-box, culled
rocks and fossils lining the driveway and a pile of colorful floats at
the steps of our front porch.”
The wild sights of spring will likely continue through
to early May, when the weather starts to calm down a bit more. In the
meantime, April will likely mean more crazed conditions, freaky sea foam
and little oddities washing up onshore.
This latter half of spring, after the spring breaks
have ended, is often called the “secret season” on the coast,
because awe inspiring natural delights like these are quite common, but
the beaches are generally deserted of tourists. It’s also a time
when some of the most inexpensive lodging prices are available, making
this the most interesting and varied season on Oregon’s coast.
Sands Condominium Motel, Lincoln City. Free, fresh baked
cookie upon check-in is just the start. All rooms beachfront and
up against Lincoln City's most famous stretch of beach: the D River.
Each room comes as a suite or mini-suite, and has a kitchen and
balcony or patio. Some w/ gas fireplaces, while all have a DVD Players;
movies to rent come with free popcorn. Heated indoor pool, a spa,
and this fabulous beach is lit at night. Rooms sleep from two, four
to six - including a deluxe fireplace suite. Gift certificates orspecial
occasion packages. www.dsandsmotel.com.
171 S.W. Highway 101. 800-527-3925.
Paradise Suites & Vacation Rentals - Seaside
Unique Luxury Accommodations in Seaside. 1BR Suites,
1BR & 2BR Duplex Units and 3BR Houses, units for 2-8 people.
Rent entire property for 20-26. Close to beach, river and Broadway
Suites are designed for two adults; vacation rental units for families.
All units have kitchen and many have fireplace, deck and jetted
tub. Comfy robes, slippers, luxury bath amenities, quality linens
and more. 741 S. Downing St., Seaside. 800-738-6691. www.SeasideSuites.com
Rockaway Beach. All rooms are immaculate and have TV’s, VCR’s
and in-room phones w/ data ports. Oceanfronts have queen bed, a
double hide-a-bed, kitchen, cozy firelog fireplace and private deck.
Both types sleep up to four people. Others are appointed for a two-person
romantic getaway, yet still perfect for those on a budget. Elaborate
oceanfront Jacuzzi suite has two bedrooms, kitchen, double hide-a-bed,
fireplace and private deck, sleeping as many as six. For family
reunions or large gatherings such as weddings, some rooms can connect
to create two-room and three-room suites. Some rooms pet friendly.
523 N. Pacific St., Rockaway Beach. (503) 355-2112 - 1-800-824-0938.
at Cannon Beach. Beautifully wooded natural setting at quiet south
end of Cannon Beach. Great during winter storms with a new book by
the fireplace – or when the sun is out for family fun and beach
strolling. Handsome beach cottage-style architecture. Lush flowering
gardens and naturalized courtyard pond. Warm, inviting guest rooms.
Continental buffet breakfast. Warm Cookies. Family and Pet Friendly.
Welcome gifts. Smoke-free. Complimentary Wireless Connectivity. Wine
and book signing events. 800-321-6304 or 503-436-9085. Hemlock At
Surfcrest, Cannon Beach, Oregon. www.atcannonbeach.com.
CLIFFTOP IN NEWPORT
POINT Newport - Offers only the finest in luxury condominium
lodging. Every unit is focused on the beauty of the sea and the
All units boast two bedrooms, two bathrooms, designer kitchens,
wireless broadband Internet, fireplaces, Jacuzzi’s and private
decks. Friendly staff dedicated to high quality and superb customer
service. 140 NW 48th Street, Newport. (541) 265-3751. (800) 870-7795.
Than 20 Reasons for a Late Spring Oregon Coast Jaunt From
lonely beaches, live music pleasures, weird storms sights to lodging
Transformations of Oregon Coast Beaches Seasons change
and so do beaches, revealing different sides and a variety of eye-popping
Found on Oregon Beach May Be 80,000 Years Old - They
are the remnants of a forest apparently 80,000 years old, found at Hug
or Night Mysteries and Merriment on Oregon Coast It's
more than just nightlife that comes to life, but the beaches offer major
Wines and Wine Bars on the Oregon Coast Wine shops
and wine bars are a growing part of coastal tourism
coast mileage chart & map
trips, suggested itineraries
Coast Lodging Specials
BeachConnection.net's 1,000 pages
Coast Real Estate
TAKE THE VIRTUAL TOUR
Where the Columbia
meets the Pacific, Land of Lewis & Clark and loads of
atmosphere & history
Tillamook Head, family fun & broad, sandy beaches
lighthouse, upscale yet earthy, a huge monolith, fine eateries
& an art mecca
beaches, Nehalem and Wheeler's quirky beauty; laid back Rockaway
Barview, Bay City, Tillamook & an oceanfront ghost town
secret of the coast: Cape Meares, a lighthouse, Oceanside,
Netarts and Pacific City
A spouting horn
downtown, freaky hidden cliffs and whales, whales, whales
Time-tripping Nye Beach, a bustling
bayfront, marine science-central and two lighthouses
Constantly dramatic wave action, a mix
of the rugged & upscale
A lighthouse, ancient bayfront and miles
and miles of fluffy dunes
City Vacation Homes
Something for everyone: smaller homes
with a view to a large house that sleeps 15. All are either oceanfront
or just a few steps away – all with a low bank access and
fantastic views. Most are in the Nelscott area; one is close to
the casino. You’ll find a variety of goodies: fireplaces,
multiple bedrooms, dishwashers, Jacuzzis, washer/dryers, hot tubs,
cable TV, VCR, barbecues; there’s a loft in one, and another
sprawling home has two apartments. Pets allowed in some homes
– ask first. Each comes with complete kitchens. Most have
seventh night free. Prices range from winter $85 to summer $230
per night. www.getaway2thecoast.com.
Ocean Lodge. There will not be another property built
like this in Cannon Beach in our lifetimes. Rare, premiere ocean
front location; handsome, dramatic architecture and tasteful, fun
(nostalgic) beach interiors. Overlooks Haystack Rock. 100 percent
smoke free. Imaginative special occasion packages. Massive wood
burning lobby fireplace. Library w/ fireplace, stocked with impressive
book collection. Pet and family friendly. Lavish continental buffet
breakfast. In-room fireplaces, mini-kitchens. Jacuzzi tubs in select
rooms. DVD players, complimentary movies. Morning paper. Warm cookies.
888-777-4047. 503-436-2241. 2864 Pacific Street. Cannon Beach, Oregon.