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The Tiny U.S. Travel Destination with the Gargantuan Oregon Coast Experience

Published 06/01/23 at 11:20 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

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(Oceanside, Oregon) - Fancy yourself a bit of a pirate, looking for treasure? Do you like secret caves? Have a hankerin' for finding agates? Ever been to the ocean before, much less seen a wild storm of massive waves?

One little place on the north Oregon coast comes packed with scenic treasures, some of which take a little digging – figuratively speaking – to get to. Oceanside, along the Three Capes Tour, is a mere few blocks long, even counting the beach. Yet the place has layers, stacked on top of each other, in a way, as Oceanside rises above the sands and leads you to some remarkable sights.

Some sights, you could say, are where the hamlet reaches new heights.

Minuscule Oceanside began almost exactly 100 years ago, back when tents were the only coastal lodgings for tourists. Some 500 of these summer-only dwellings were here at some points in its early history, way more than the three or four motels you find now and the fair amount of vacation rentals present. At one time, this was one of the busiest resorts on the burgeoning Oregon coast.

Now, it's busy again, as each year more and more folks discover it.

First, you approach this adorable U.S. destination from the south, as a hilly drive suddenly opens up its forest to sprawling views. The first decent place to park and take it all in is Symons State Scenic Viewpoint, a perfect spot to watch if winter storms are bashing the area.

A few blocks away is Oceanside itself, where one parking lot gives way to the only access for a couple of miles around. This is also a great place to watch those major winter storms the Oregon coast is known for, with really sizable weather systems creating some monster waves that fire upwards from the point.

That small headland is known as Maxwell Point. And you may notice there's a tunnel there.

Don't approach it if it's rainy, and do not hit that beach if stormy conditions are occasionally sending waves up to the small cliff.

The tunnel, however, is one of the more engaging places to explore on the whole of the Oregon coast. It gets really dark and spooky in there, accentuated by the fact you're walking over all manner of uneven terrain and large sea-tossed objects.

On the other side, this is where you wind up feeling like an explorer. You emerge onto what truly feels like a hidden beach, and if it wasn't for the fact many now know Oceanside, you'd be fairly correct. Still, you can't help feel a bit like you're one of the first to tread here.

A rare sight: Maxwell Point is passable without the tunnel due to high sand levels

It's called Tunnel Beach (and sometimes Star Trek Beach, which we here at Oregon Coast Beach Connection prefer). And there's a major cave at the very end of this thin stretch called Lost Boy Cave.

Along this untamed little stroll agates can be prolific. There's also a weird phenomenon that can happen when sand levels get really low (in winter), where the polished stones make a rattling noise when attacked by the tides, known as a “magic rocks” noise.

Getting deeper into Oceanside means moving upwards along the neighborhood streets, which sometimes zig-zag their way higher in elevation. Keep following the road and if you're lucky you may find the top of Maxwell Mountain. It's one of the more magnificent views on the entire coastline, including the epic sensation of looking down on the massive Three Arch Rocks that dominated the view while you were on the beach.

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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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