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In Need of Wave Pyrotechnics? Four Oregon Coast Spots Pack the Punch

Published 02/09/23 at 6:39 AM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

In Need of Wave Pyrotechnics? Four Oregon Coast Spots Pack the Punch

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(Oregon Coast) – Glorious chaos: that's often what happens when storm season comes along on the Oregon coastline. Waves firing up in the air, that sudden CLAP that can make you jump, and all the stark, raw beauty. Come rain or shine it's something you can't get enough once you've seen it while wandering. (Above: Yaquina Head, photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

Yet plenty of times it's not full-on storm season. Where to go to get your rowdy breakers fix? Some places can even provide this in almost stormy weather.

Yaquina Head, Newport. A looming lighthouse and a giant former quarry are not all the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area have to offer. Indeed, there's bundles of basalt fun to be had here, along with hiking trails, a surreal beach full of “magic rocks” and plenty of birding.

Yaquina Head storm

Some of the biggest thrills are the gargantuan waves that come crashing in from a distance. In these deeper waters, they haven't yet lost all of their power. Those equally-massive basalt structures straight out towards sea get slammed with ferocity on a regular basis. The resulting oceanic explosions can tower over those rocks, then come tumbling back to sea with a mighty crash.

It's even a bit alarming to watch at times.

Hit the north face of the parking lot and you'll find a viewpoint of bird-stained basalt structures and vast stretches of ocean and beach. This is a birding hotspot, and a funky little cove that also creates some tidal commotion. Hotels in Newport - Where to eat - Newport Maps and Virtual Tours

Rodea Point, Depoe Bay. While the Depoe Bay area is well known for its oceanic displays, one spot just south of town is especially incendiary. Rodea Point, under many conditions, can create tall, towering waves that crash with startling intensity. Not just with your eyes, but the booming noises this place makes is a tad frightful at times. It is probably the unsung hero of wild wave-watching spots on the Oregon coast and rather unknown.

They can reach a good 50 feet high, soaring over you.

At night, they are a thrill ride to watch. Here is a vivid quote from a 2009 article on Rodea Point at night from Oregon Coast Beach Connection:

“Enormous swells rumbled into existence less than 100 feet from the edge of the rocks. They would rise in an ominous fashion to an imposing height, making that slightly thunderous noise – and they hadn’t even hit anything yet. These were monsters. Seriously.”

The interesting thing here is that Rodea Point doesn't take a lot to get frothy and unruly. Even milder storms that don't do much elsewhere turn into sizable displays here. Hotels in Depoe Bay - Where to eat - Depoe Bay Maps and Virtual Tours

Photo courtesy Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more

Shore Acres, Near Coos Bay. There's little that tops this south Oregon coast maker of monsters (although granted it takes a bit of an offshore storm). In fact, in terms of wave height, literally nothing can in this state. Waves can tower some 200 feet high.

On top of it, you can feel the place shake as it gets slammed.

How do these get that high?

As two regional geologists told Oregon Coast Beach Connection, it’s a combination of what seems to be a deeper ocean depth, an incline that goes down towards the east, and the fact those waves hit a surface so suddenly. They also don’t have much time between when they’ve turned into larger waves offshore and when they smack into in an object. Why Shore Acres Waves Are So Big: Height Measurement, Geology | S. Oregon Coast

Yachats 804 Trail. The vast majority of Yachats is one jaw-dropping moment after another, really. But the 804 Trail and Smelt Sands really takes the oceanic cake, plus it gives you a front row seat to savage sights – quite literally.

A little over half the time the tides are manic and wild here, creating some awe-inspiring spouting horn action. Sometimes, it's not too wild and you can get surprisingly close to these otherwise very dangerous watery pryotechnics. But mostly, you want to keep your distance.

You will be rewarded, however, with not just with spouting horns that fire water into the air but rocky shelves that make for constant battering ram target practice from the tides, which then can turn upwards into mesmerizing combinations and shapes.

A stunning secret: the very southern edge of Yachats, on the other side of the bay, hosts a mini-cove of incredibly powerful tidal displays as well. Hotels in Yachats - Where to eat - Yachats Maps and Virtual Tours





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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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