Lincoln City Beach Fun

The Beach is Our Playground.

We want you to enjoy all the things the beach has to offer, but please be safe. One rule of beach safety is to stay off logs. Tides and undertow can make a large log flip or turn and cause serious injury. So when on the beach, play it safe - stay off the logs. Storm watching is a great beach activity too, so when storms approach, watch as they come across the sea, but do it from a safe place.

Cuddle up next to someone special at an evening bonfire or exchange vows in front of loved ones on the beach. While you're here, share some special moments and take home special memories.

Beachcombing is one way to explore the coastline, but consider going by horse! Horseback rides give you a unique perspective and an opportunity to see more beach. If reliving your youth is what brought you here, we have some of the best kite flying in the region. Grab string and a kite and run down the beach to catch some wind!

If getting wet is your thing, crabbing, clamming and digging for mussels gets you into the water a little. For more exposure to the Pacific, take a dip in the Ocean. And for those bravest of souls, kayaking, windsurfing, and surfing are all popular activities.

Beachcombing

As any dedicated beachcomber can tell you, the best of the sea's treasure comes ashore after a big storm and an especially high tide. You'll find beautiful driftwood, agates, shells, sea creatures, fishing boat equipment, and if you're lucky, a Japanese fishing float shaken loose from the seaweedy depths, or a multi-colored handblown float from Lincoln City's Glass Floats Event. The mighty Pacific gives up treasures, large and small, for Lincoln City beachcombers who have the patience and luck to find them.

For some, there's no prize like an agate. The semi-transparent stones are pieces of quartz, carnelian, chalcedony and jasper that come loose from the headlands during storms and are left behind when the waves recede at low tide. Agates come in all colors, but most of them are clear or milky. Some even contain tiny fossils.

Japanese glass fishing floats are highly valued by dedicated beachcombers. Some of these absorbingly beautiful finds are huge, up to two and three feet in diameter; most, however, are between four inches and a foot wide. They come in various shapes, colors and sizes, but the most common are ball-shaped and are blue or green. They are becoming increasingly rare as fishing boats around the world convert to modern materials like plastic or Styrofoam to float their nets. When the glass versions do appear, they are usually very old and have spent many years drifting in the Pacific Ocean.

But floats and agates are only the beginning. Part of the fun of beachcombing is finding a mystery, a piece of something that could be flora or fauna, man-made or naturally occurring. Old bits of ocean-worn glass, boat equipment from around the world, netting, rope and other curiosities abound.

Perhaps the most fruitful season for beachcombing is the winter, after a particularly high tide and after a big storm. But beware: that's also the most dangerous time to be on the beach. When looking for good things on the Oregon coast, be on your guard. Keep a sharp watch for so-called "sneaker waves" that can sweep the unwary out into the surf. Also, stay away from logs and timber that can be caught by the waves.

Walking the beaches of Oregon can yield a treasure trove - agates, shells, nets, driftwood, a multitude of gifts from the sea. But in Lincoln City, beachcombers can also find brand-new art glass floats, gifts from the City of Lincoln City as part of its yearly Glass Floats event.

Tide Pooling

The tide gradually recedes, leaving behind exposed rocks with many little pools of still salt water. In those pools many colorful, exotic creatures make their homes - starfish, sea anemones and urchins, and tiny fish. Children and adults alike can gaze in wonder at the tidepools, ocean habitats in miniature. There are several good areas to explore tidepools in the Lincoln City area. One of the best is near the Roads End Wayside, a corner of the coast which offers intertidal life that rivals Yaquina Head and Seal Rock. Starfish live side-by-side with sea anemones and sea urchins. The starfish are red, orange and pink; the sea anemones are a rich purple and green; and the sea urchins a rich, dark purple. Tiny fish dart among the shallows. Hermit crabs dart, much more quickly than the snails they resemble, from one shelter to another. Rocky residents like mussels and barnacles thrive in the intertidal zone. Mussels have a long, tapered dark blue to black shell. The vivid, orange flesh of the mussel is edible, and a prized delicacy in many parts of the world. You're allowed to harvest up to 72 mussels per day, per person. Barnacles are small, and usually white, and cluster on rocks and pilings.

These are but a few of the many creatures that live in the tidepools. You can also enjoy the activity of the sea birds as they feed on the exposed bowls of wildlife. As always, take care when walking or climbing on the rocks. The sea growth on the rocks makes them very slippery, and a fall can be very serious. Also, check the tide tables so that you know you are exploring in a safe time. Many tidepoolers have become trapped on the rocks when high tide starts coming in - a particular danger if you're heading north from the Roads End Wayside. Another reason to be cautious when you're searching for wildlife is that it's their home too. Anemones, starfish and mussels all live in a delicate environment that is easily damaged; too much handling and destruction of barnacle growth can disturb their habitat.

Enjoy the beautiful creatures, but, aside from mussels, take nothing live from the beach – it's against the law. Be careful, and enjoy safe tidepool exploring.

Riding the Waves

When the ocean's swells encounter the rocky reefs and sandbars offshore, the water piles up into monster waves that crash upon the beaches. Those are the conditions that surfers seek. People looking for surfers, and how they operate, can spot them all along the beaches close to Lincoln City.

Balance, coordination, timing, good physical conditioning and strong swimming skills are needed to become a good wind or traditional surfer. Beginners should start slowly, buying or renting a short, wider "boogie board," Forse said. "That way they can get familiar with the feel of the board, the waves and currents," he said. Another tip for the novice, he said, is to find other people on wide body boards in more passive coves. Many beginners try out the Otter Rock and Pacific City areas where gentler waves are encountered.

Of course, those who ride the chilly Oregon waves must dress for success. The water is very cold most of the time; and wet suits, along with booties, gloves, and a hood, are necessary. As with all ocean sports, caution is key. Before heading out on the breakers, inquire about wave conditions and safe surfing areas.

In addition, there is great windsurfing opportunities on the Ocean and Devil's Lake, so if traditional ocean surfing is not your style, you can still hit the water on a board!

Whale Watching

Every spring and fall thousands of people flock to the Oregon coast to watch the Pacific gray whales that are on migrations of their own. Some might query who is watching whom. Those who have seen a pod in motion, the spume in the air, the backs, the fins raised out of the water as if to wave hello, keep coming back for more.

The gray whale was once an endangered species, but protection measures have brought the great sea creatures back to healthy numbers. The species was removed from the endangered species list in 1994. The whales migrate each year, about 12,000 miles round-trip, from northern waters off Alaska to the Gulf of California in Mexico, and back.

Watchers can spot them on their way north in the spring, or returning south in the fall and early winter. The pods usually stay close to land, generally from one-half mile to three miles offshore. In the fall and winter, the groups of two to 10 individuals are led by pregnant females on their route south. The whales winter over in shallow Mexican waters where the mother whales give birth to their young. In late winter and early spring the whales head back north, where the young will feed and grow in the Bering and Chukchi seas.

Some gray whales take up year 'round residence on the Oregon coast. Several remain in the shallow waters off of Depoe Bay, where the nearby feeding grounds are excellent. The whales live on krill, a small shrimp-like creature, that inhabits the mud flats and kelp in the area around Depoe Bay. Watchers can see them diving for food in the area off the Depoe Bay sea wall and in an area about one mile south called Rocky Creek State Park.

During the Christmas and spring school vacations, the Oregon Parks Department and the Oregon Division of Fish and Wildlife join private sponsors to conduct whale watching weeks. Volunteer interpreters are on hand from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at locations on the coast to help the novices spot the whales. Look for signs that say "Whale Watching Spoken Here." The best place to see the migration is from any elevated location. Early morning, before the wind begins to below, is the best time to glimpse the shooting vapor the whales expurgate after a dive. Keep watching the place where the spout rose from, and you may soon see the dark back of a whale as it comes up for a breath. Lucky viewers sometimes see them spy hopping (when they stick their heads out of the sea) or breaching (when the whale jumps out of the water and falls back in with a great splash.)

Good spots in Lincoln City for spotting whales are at Roads End, the NW 21st Street beach access and SW 40th Street.

You can receive additional information about visiting the Oregon coast by contacting the Lincoln City Visitors Association at 1-1-800-452-2151 or by visiting their website.