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Spring Break on S. Oregon Coast: Coos Bay / Charleston's Wilder Sides

Published 03/13/22 at 4:25 AM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Spring Break on S. Oregon Coast: Coos Bay / Charleston's Wilder Sides

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(Coos Bay, Oregon) – The rollicking rocky cliffs and their dizzying ledges, the occasional bout of tidal madness, long expanses of sandy beaches, and a variety of not-so-obvious natural amenities: this is the Coos Bay / North Bend / Charleston part of the southern Oregon coast. There's enough spring break action for kidlets and their older counterparts to fill a good week of exploration and repose. (Photo of Cape Arago / Simpsons Reef courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast)

You just have to know where to go.

They call it Oregon's Adventure Coast, and that's the name of the tourism promotions entity that overlooks the area. Janice Langlinais is head of Oregon's Adventure Coast, and she said this time around there isn't something different in the way of events being hosted by the region during spring break, but there is the, well, adventurous outdoors side.

Sunset Bay, Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more

For instance, one of the biggies is tidepooling at Sunset Bay State Park or Cape Arago State Park. Langlinais said there is lots of tidepool life at Sunset Bay and Cape Arago State Park. Those rocky chunks at Arago and the edges of Sunset Bay provide enormous colonies of fun stuff to gawk at.

She said you'll be able to to spot sea stars, sea slugs, snails, chitons, limpets, crabs, worms, barnacles, mussels small and octopods. You'll be able to see how they hold on, and maybe even how they're moving or eating.

However, she notes – as do all Oregon coast experts – you should not touch anything in there. Certainly, leave them be and do not take anything out of the tidepool. However, even touching them can be harmful to them.

Charleston Marine Life Center

On weekends, the Charleston Marine Life Center is open, and a perfect opp for the kiddies – or the grownups with an intact sense of wonder. On Fridays hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Saturdays it's 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. You'll catch tidepool touch tanks, a giant whale skeleton, and up close glimpses of wildly-colored sea slugs to freaky octopuses brewing schemes in their underwater lair (they're astoundingly intelligent). 541-346-7280.

“Go crabbing or clamming in Charleston,” Langlilais said. “Basin Tackle and Bites On Tackle are both great at helping folks get gear and instructions.”

On this part of the southern Oregon coast, the low tides at the Empire district to Charleston are the best areas to go looking for these tasty morsels.

Courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast

Or try cycling the Whiskey Run Trail. About 10 miles from Coos Bay or Bandon, the rather new Whiskey Run Mountain Trail is a distinctive, unique feature on the south Oregon coast, where you wind through 22 miles of pristine coastal forest. Sweeping views on dramatic rises, thrilling dips, and a blend between flow and cross-country style biking make for a perfect high-energy bit of recreation with the kids or your grownup friends.

However, you'll want to avoid them if it's too soaking out and the trails are muddy. Keep an eye trail reports or call the local biking shops in Coos Bay.

Courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast

Then of course there's always the famous tumbling dunes near Coos Bay. The area is at the southern edges of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area and those mountains of sand that provide endless means of distraction. Spinreel Dune Buggy and ATV Rental is the big vendor for the area, with those large, thrill-inducing vehicles that make for unforgettable moments at the beach.

In case of rain, North Bend Lanes Cosmic is the venue for cosmic bowling. Kids of all ages will dig the laser lights, disco lights, black lighting and other dazzling forms of illumination. There's also some legendary flatbread pizza in the Back Alley Pub that's attached.

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