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Four Magical Oregon Coast Places: Paradise Point, Shore Acres, Rockaway Beach, Kiwanda

Published 08/19/21 at 7:02 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Four Magical Oregon Coast Places: Paradise Point, Shore Acres, Rockaway Beach, Kiwanda

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(Oregon Coast) – From the north to the southern Oregon coast, these 364 miles of beaches and cliffs provide decades of exploration and scenic magic. It would take you that long to explore it all. But with each comes one form of wonder or another. Here's a sampling for four places that will capture the imagination and make you think of something otherworldly. (Photo of Shore Acres courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast)

Rockaway Beach

Those iconic Twin Rocks looming offshore pop into view briefly in the Twin Rocks section of Rockaway Beach, at its southern end. As you drive past Minnehaha St. on 101, you'll catch a fleeting glimpse as the dunes dip ever so swiftly, and the two sea stacks appear as two giants peeking out from the beach accesses. They don't appear again until you're in the middle of town or on the beach. At the access at Minnehaha St., they are at their closest to the beach. Once you get up onto the main beach access parking lot by the trolley, Twin Rocks are in the distance, but they show another side. This angle allows the arch to become more pronounced and obvious. It doesn't look as thick from this angle as it does at the southern end.

This beach goes on for seven miles and is still one of the coast's more pristine, in spite of it being so well known. It's like a hidden bustling tourist resort, existing well on those contradictions in terms for decades. Numerous hotels, a few eateries and several “touristy” shops inhabit this lengthy town, yet it never becomes bogged down in that commercial feel, no matter how hard it tries.

Cape Kiwanda and Haystack Rock

This sea stack, with its arm-like structure hanging at its side, is one of three on the Oregon coast that share the name Haystack Rock. Being a monolith, it stands alone just a ways from the golden, wind-carved cliffs of Pacific City's Cape Kiwanda. Sometimes, you'll see fishing boats wandering somewhat close to the giant basalt structure – and you'll feel a little jealous. “Why can't I inspect it at such close quarters?” you ask yourself.

Climb Kiwanda to catch dozens of amazing views and structures you won't see anywhere on the coast. From weirdly colored, pockmarked landscapes that look like an alien world, a giant bowl of rock and sand with surprise geysers of sea water to incredible craggy cliffs of varied shapes to the brilliant gold of the cape that seems to catch fire when the sun hits it right.

Coos Bay Curiosities

Photo above courtesy Brent Lerwill

Coos Bay's Sunset Bay and Shore Acres State Park are known for a lot of things, especially those oddball diagonal folds within the tilted rock features here and those blobs and globs of intriguing shapes all over. The two southern Oregon coast hotspots are directly linked, with one giving way to the other.

Both spots are pockmarked by all sorts of knobs and puzzling little features that look like a Dr. Suess landscape gone mad. Yet many of these have completely different origins, geologically. Some are concretions, basically loads of geologic layers compiled over time that cement together, often into those cannonball shapes. Others are a strange mix of salt water piling up and forming small spikes, or maybe there are twisted, bent shapes that create little arches. It's an intriguing mish mash of stuff here. See Bizarre Rocky Details of Oregon Coast: What's Really Going On 

The most dramatic designs come in the giant cliffs of Shore Acres and Sunset Bay themselves, where you can see layers that are titled upwards at odd angles. This is the result of geologic uplift: the area has been smooshed together for millions and millions of years by tectonic action just offshore and other geologic elements, making for more intriguing contours.

The whole thing is a striking alien landscape all around. Someone needs to get Star Trek: Discovery to film some scenes down here. See Coos Bay, Charleston, North Bend Complete Guide: Southern Oregon Coast Travel

Port Orford's Paradise Point State Recreation Site

Photo courtesy FlickR / Anita Ritenour

Paradise Point State Recreation Site itself isn't very large, though it's part of a stretch of beach that goes on for a few miles to the north until it reaches Cape Blanco, and its exact borders aren't clear. To the south less than a mile is Agate Beach (the other Agate Beach, not the one at Newport).

In any case, the farther north you go along this stretch of southern Oregon coast the more you're alone, and the state park isn't usually busy in the first place so you'll likely have this area to yourself.

And what an area it is. Expansive, often dark sands meander below grassy cliffs and bluffs, usually made of sandstone. Things are crumbling quickly here at times: the undulating, serrated shapes of the cliffs show that. Those cliffs also fire up in spectacular glory during sunset as those colorful rays paint them and greatly accentuate the yellows and oranges. They almost seem to burn with brightness.

Paradise Point State Recreation Site is unabashedly unadorned as south coast beaches go. No sea stacks or intriguing rock structures jutting up out of the sands, like that towering surprise at the end of the first Planet of the Apes movie. It's just sands – all sands, and gobs of driftwood.

Those sands, being a darker gray, may hold an enticing secret. Darker granules like this often mean a bit of a mineral content, meaning gold. Gold is more easily found in black sand beaches of the south coast, but you may get lucky.

There are also plenty of agates and sometimes floats that wash in, and don't be surprised to spot the random goat goofing around the area on occasion.

The beach can be short here, and high tides or winter storms can turn this adventure into a dangerous no-go zone. Paradise Point State Recreation Site has plenty of parking and a small restroom facility.

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