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What You Should Be Looking for This Summer on Oregon Coast: Beaches Look Different

Published 07/22/22 at 5:05 AM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

What You Should Be Looking for This Summer on Oregon Coast: Beaches Look Different

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(Oregon Coast) – Mid summer on these beaches can mean all sorts of wonders, especially one rather like this one. A calm ocean brings more than just pleasant conditions for bouncing around the Oregon coast and lounging in the sands. (Above: Arcadia Beach near Cannon Beach could look this vastly different)

There's something you should be looking for out here, like increased access to many of your favorite spots. It's as if the tide is much, much farther out than normal – and it stays that way. You'll see a good one hundred feet or more added to the beach, and rocky areas you couldn't get to may all of a sudden may be easy pickings.

This faux low tide situation is caused by lots of sand piling up. Summer's mellow waters do that: sand builds and then it forms a barrier to the ocean, keeping it farther and farther out.

Where to look for this? Just about everywhere may present some new sight or adventure – but it depends.


Bandon's Elephant Head Rock, courtesy Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more.

Bandon, down on the southern Oregon coast, often gains a lot of new beach. Those various caves and arches hiding in the rocks become more accessible, with less of a chance there's high tides covering them.


Photo courtesy David Prasad / Flickr

At Meyers Creek / Ariya's Beach near Gold Beach, there's an arch in one of the big sea stacks that isn't accessible many times of the year. The flat-topped Cave Rock is also normally off limits. Low enough tides combined with high sand levels can make it possible. Some photographers have caught a hole in the ceiling of Cave Rock.


Larger pocket beaches can appear at Yachats

Often in summer, extremely high sand levels keep the tide farther away than usual at places like Oceanside, Yachats, Pacific City and Gleneden Beach. Sand levels sometimes drop back o normal for a while, at least, but then they rise again to reveal some quite rare facets of those beaches.

Case in point: the big fin-like rock at Arcadia Beach near Cannon Beach (known as Lion Rock), which is normally immersed in the tideline. Occasionally, summers let you walk out an astounding 50 feet beyond the structure and look back at it (as in the photo at top).

Large pools of water collect around these big rocky blobs, often showing off plenty of starfish and other creatures.

Look to Harris Beach down near Brookings as well: sometimes that giant crack almost becomes a doorway.

Another rarity sometimes visible is the arch at Arch Cape, which the village was named for. Sand levels often keep the tide so far out it's easy to walk along the tidepool areas and around the point – which is normally smothered in raucous waves.

Around that point is the arch, which was actually three arches at one point, but they fell apart in the '40s.


Arch Cape, like many Oregon coast hotspots affected by this fascinating phenomena, can get those sort of checkered patterns all along the sand, looking a bit like mud flats of a bay after the tide has gone out. These flat but patterned features are often a telltale sign you're dealing with really high sand levels.

Oregon Coast Beach Connection has spotted them during some summers at Waldport, Tillicum Beach, Cape Kiwanda and Lincoln City in the past.

One of the biggest thrills of this high sand level situation happens at Oceanside, where the tide is pushed so far out for a time you can walk out well beyond Maxwell Point. There's even been one report this summer of easy access (for a brief period) to a very secret beach connected to Oceanside.

These conditions may not last for long, or then they may reappear should there be a good run of calm, warm weather. For now, however, it's a good idea to keep your eyes peeled on the coast. This is even more true during the “Second Summer” that comes in September and early October. Look then and see if your favorite spot has some unusual, spectacular accessibility.

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