Alternate Reality of Oregon Coast Beaches After Dark
Published 09/17/2015 at 5:24 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff
(Oregon Coast) – The beach takes on a whole other dimension of atmosphere after night falls, creating a different world. You'd be surprised what you can see in the dark of an Oregon coast beach. At first it's unnerving, and even annoying: staring out into that blackness with the sound of the ocean becoming rather spooky. Then, within a minute, you find your eyes have suddenly adjusted a bit, and a new way of seeing the beaches is opened up to you. (Above: southern Cannon Beach).
Colors are muted and grayish, to be sure. But there's a different quality to the light, and if you look carefully you'll start to see shades you hadn't seen before. Utilize a camera and tripod (sorry, a flash from an amateur camera won't cut it), and because the camera sees things we don't, you'll open up an entirely new universe. An alternate reality of the Oregon coast, really.
Other pleasures and delights include possibly seeing the infamous “glowing sand” on Oregon beaches – tiny flashes of blue/green that are created by a form of nearly-microscopic phytoplankton. (See video and learn more about glowing sand). Or better yet: shooting stars and roaming satellites are fairly common in those lightless skies.
First, a bit of warning about such exploration. The big rule of thumb: stay clear of the tide and make sure you have a flashlight so you can keep an occasional eye on where it is in the dark. Stay away from any beach at night during storm conditions. (Above: Yachats is spectacular at night, but stay above the bluffs).
Some well lit beaches include chunks of Newport, Lincoln City and Seaside. Others are dimly lighted - or not at all - but still large enough to cause no worry about the tide. These include spots like Manzanita, Rockaway Beach, Waldport, the Warrenton area, and southern Cannon Beach – to name a few.
These are the distinctly magical spots, as long as you carry some small flashlight with you for safety reasons. Usually you're alone out here in the black, save for the sound of the waves. And you'll want that flashlight to get a better glimpse of some of the marvels surrounding you, and how different they look at night.
In Lincoln City, head to the NW 15th St. ramp, which has a well-lit stairway and ramp going down to the beach. You can take your car down here after dark and park on the sand - a perfect opportunity for getting hypnotized by the waves while leaning against your vehicle. (Above: Lincoln City's Siletz Bay at night).
Manzanita's beach accesses are all very easy to crawl down, although there are some parking restrictions after 11 p.m. the closer you get to Neahkahnie Mountain. This place is especially enchanting, with part of Neahkahnie above lit up at night, looking a bit like a giant ghost hovering over the beach.
In Seaside (above), most of the beaches have playground equipment that's rather fun for goofing around on after midnight - for those adults who are kids at heart. The stony area of the cove - at the southernmost end - isn't advisable to walk around on at night, however.
If you really want to find yourself alone after dark, explore the sandy stretches of Neskowin, the areas south of Cannon Beach's Tolovana area, or the startling sands of Lincoln Beach and Gleneden Beach south of Lincoln City.
Other wonderful, nocturnal non-sandy moments can be had by loitering on the long crabbing pier on the southern side of Newport's Yaquina Bay. With the sound of the waves in the distance and the lights reflected on the water, it's unforgettable. At Depoe Bay, wander the lookouts along the seawall or above the channel. It's well lit enough so you can see the waves pounding the rocks below.
More About Safety:
Some spots are better than others for walking on in the dark. Even if you're armed with a big flashlight or two, really craggy, rocky places could be a recipe for disaster for either injuring yourself or getting walloped by the tide.
So, stick to wide beaches with lots of room between you and the surf so you can keep an eye on it. Most places between Yachats and Florence - where there's a large amount of rocky structures - are pretty much a no-no, unless there's a good deal of sand between the tide and the vegetation line. Yachats' rocky slab-filled shores are definitely not a good idea after dark; they're best viewed from above. They are still spectacular from above, however.
Oceanside is not a good place for nocturnal exploration. Especially dangerous at night is the tunnel.
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