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Sublime Pleasures and Secret Sights of Oregon Coast After Dark

Published 02/03/22 at 5:32 AM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Sublime Pleasures and Secret Sights of Oregon Coast After Dark

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(Oregon Coast) – Believe it or not, just about any beach along the Oregon coast that you can safely get to is amazing at night. Even if it is harder to see the wonders around, wandering the sands after dark can be a sublime pleasure. Some beaches, in fact, have some distinctive, remarkable qualities long after the sunsets have gone. (Above: Depoe Bay)

However, first, a bit of warning about such exploration. 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 them. Yachats' rocky slab-filled shores are definitely not a good idea in the evening; they're best viewed from above. However, the 804 Trail can be pure magic and if you stick to the concrete trail or overlooks, you're just fine.

Boiler Bay - by Depoe Bay - should never be attempted at night, no matter how much lighting you have with you. Stay off the ledges of Shore Acres near Coos Bay after dark – that's also a seriously bad idea. Any place that require a good deal of ambling or with no barriers is a dumb move. Stay far from most of the Samuel H. Boardman Corridor at night as well.

All this doesn't mean, however, that you have to stick to well-lit beaches. In fact, some of the best for nocturnal exploring are pitch black at night. But you will want to find beaches that are accessed easily, without steep, tricky trails meandering down that could cause you to fall.


Yachats

Many spots in the Gleneden Beach and Lincoln Beach areas are easy to get into at night. Between Depoe Bay and Lincoln City is where you'll find these sandy stretches. In Gleneden Beach, the State Park access is prohibited after dusk, and it's a bit tricky at night anyway. So wander the neighborhood streets in back of Gleneden Beach Rd. and you'll find several accesses where you walk directly from concrete steps or small trails to fluffy, sandy entrances.

In Lincoln Beach, the vast majority of accesses are via the neighborhood streets. Once on the beach, the homes above provide some faint light, enough to prevent you from walking into the water blindly. The steep bluffs of coarse sands at the tide line make for some interesting wave action. The waves come in crashing loudly, then dissipate in power fast because of the incline here.

Most beaches in Lincoln City, Florence, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Bandon, Gearhart, Pacific City, Oceanside, Seaside and Newport are easily accessible at night. Chunks of Newport, Bandon, Port Orford, Lincoln City and Seaside are even quite well lit. Some are dimly lighted - or not at all - but still large enough to cause no worry about the tide. 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.


Newport

In Lincoln City, head to the NW 15th St. ramp, which has a well-lit stairway and ramp going down to the beach.

Some spots in Lincoln City are trickier than others, with numerous spots sending you down long, stone walkways. These can be treacherous if not lit well or if they're rather long. But many aren't extensive - or they're flat entrance ways - and thus great for getting onto a nocturnal stretch of sand.

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, there's virtually no barrier to the sandy beaches of Seaside from the Promenade or the sidewalk area next to the beach on the southern side of town. Most the beaches here 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 Pacific City's Bob Straub State Park or the tiny town of Oceanside. Arya's Beach with its looming sea stacks is downright magical as well.

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, or the boardwalks at Coos Bay or Bandon. 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.

Once you get onto the beach at night, you'll find yourself mesmerized by the tides in this situation. Creating a bonfire (in areas where it's permitted) with some friends can be a remarkable experience. Wade in the midst of the breakers and experience that rush of seeing waves appear out of the darkness and head for you. Or simply wander the beach and tideline and see a different world, full of all sorts of atmosphere and mystery you can't find during the day.

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