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Cliffs of N. Oregon Coast's Cape Kiwanda Provide Wacky Fun, Strange Sights

Published 01/21/21 at 5:26 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Cliffs of N. Oregon Coast's Cape Kiwanda Provide Wacky Fun, Strange Sights

(Pacific City, Oregon) - The wonders never cease on top of the golden, weather-sculpted cliffs of Cape Kiwanda - the centerpiece to the north Oregon coast’s little haven of Pacific City. It’s all about the views – well, almost. It’s also about the feel of the place, the astounding surprises around each corner, and even about the sounds. The list of wonders here is multi-layered.

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First, scale to the top of the cliffs via a strenuous incline made of loose sand that makes this jaunt even more difficult. The rewards are many, however. Once there, eye-popping sights await, such as wild, craggy structures with weird color schemes resembling another world. There are secret trails leading you to more stunning viewpoints, and a small cove with minute cracks in the rocks where the tide can sometimes squirt out.

That’s just scratching the surface of this famed Oregon coast landmark.

All of it is a gateway to a stunning, even ethereal landscape, serving up hidden glimpses of parts of the cliff which jut and wriggle their ways out into the ocean. There's a nearly endless parade of incredible viewpoints you can't get anywhere else in the region. One, at the north end, provides a look at the jagged rock islands lying at odd angles in front of the cape. The ocean has worn away at Cape Kiwanda for millions of years and left these sandstone interlopers disconnected from the mother cape. One day they’ll crumble away entirely.

Then on sunny days, the cape becomes especially entrancing as the sun sets the cliffs on fire and causes the tumultuous water below to turn a deep, dark blue in stark and unforgettable contrast.

The entire area is one remarkable package of natural fun and frolic, rambling on for several hundred feet in different directions and hiding numerous treasures all over. One of them is purely sonic. Those part-metallic fences at the top sometimes catch the winds just right and make wild whistling or even howling noises.

Zip up the huge sandy hill to its top and explore the mini-forest there, or let yourself tumble down its long, steep expanse, as many children do. You'll see them shooting down on boards of various kinds - sometimes with more than one piled on top - or in some cases, even by intentionally rolling themselves to the bottom. It’s crazy to see humans coiled up like little bugs and zipping down like an uneven wheel.

This towering, neck-craning dune on top inspires kids of all ages to engage in all sorts of recreational behaviors, among the most enriching of which is simple exploration. Those post-apocalyptic-looking trees on top are cajoling to say the least.

At Cape Kiwanda’s base a world of mesmerizing little tidepools appear along the rocks at low tide, sometimes opening up sea caves for your inspection.

Offshore sits the stately Haystack Rock, almost as if it guards these cliffs. In fact, it literally does. Geologist Parke Snavely wrote in the ‘70s that if it weren’t for this Haystack Rock (there are three on this coast with such names), that Kiwanda would’ve been whittled away much sooner. The rock deflects some of the wave action. MORE PHOTOS BELOW

Staying Near Cape Kiwanda

Idyllic Beach Houses. Two lovely pet friendly vacation rental homes, close to beach. Both w/ free WiFi, DVD, eclectic libraries, DVDs, games. Guardenia Street House: nestled at edge of forest. Hardwood interiors, skylights, vaulted ceilings. Enormous wrap-around deck. Kids' Bunkhouse. Spacious, fully equipped kitchen. Fireplace; BBQ. Sleeps 9. Pier Street House: Vaulted ceilings, second-story balcony, natural wood. DVD/Blu-Ray. Wood stove, BBQ. Deck, fenced backyard. Sleeps 10. Tierra Del Mar, Oregon (5 miles north of Pacific City). 503-662-5420. Details at

Kiwanda Coastal Properties. From extravagant to elemental, most are just steps from the beach, you'll find over 50 vacation rentals around Pacific City. Most ocean view, even walking distance to soaring Cape Kiwanda. Some barbecues, large decks, cozy fireplaces, maybe a romantic beachside cottage. From two to 16 people. Pet friendly. All have fully equipped kitchens, Wi-Fi, microwaves. Most have dishwashers, televisions, DVD/VCR players, stereos, fireplaces / woodstoves, laundry Pacific City, Oregon. 503-965-7212. Website here.

Sandlake Country Inn. Relaxation and romance are the keys at this cozy B&B secret, hidden along the Three Capes Scenic Loop, one mile from ocean. 1st certified green B&B on coast. Like a small luxury hotel, with sumptuous amenities such as double Jacuzzi spa tubs, fireplaces, bubble baths, soaps, lotions and robes, along w/ large selection of movies, wi-fi. Private deck and a four-course breakfast delivered to your door. 8505 Galloway Rd. (Near Pacific City, Oregon). 877-726-3525. 503-965-6745.

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