Friday, March 13, 2015

Cape Kiwanda

How had I missed Cape Kiwanda?

After living in Oregon nearly 27 years, I've visited quite a bit of it's magnificent coastline.  But one stretch remained unexplored.  And it was less than a 2-hour drive from my front door. 

Huge sand dune

Photos from a favorite Oregon photographer brought Cape Kiwanda's lovely beach into my cross-hairs.  Located south of Tillamook, but north of Lincoln City, it had been overlooked in my quest to visit the surrounding towns.

Textured beach sand

One sunny Sunday in February, Cape Kiwanda came calling.  Deciding today was the day, I packed up my photo gear and got an early start, hoping to catch some morning light on the beach.

White crashing waves

Cape Kiwanda is a wave-sculped, sandstone headland jutting out into the Pacific Ocean.  To the landward side is a huge sand dune.  Upon my arrival, I was pleased to observe early morning light illuminating the sandy cliff and dunes a lovely shade of gold.  I grabbed my camera and hustled to the beach.

Pool of gold

I got lucky and arrived at low tide  The wet sand reflected the headland's golden light wonderfully, creating brilliant pools of gold.

Another Haystack Rock

Although most Oregonians are familiar with Cannon Beach's Haystack Rock, I discovered Cape Kiwanda has a Haystack Rock of it's own.  And it's equally as scenic.

Surfer dude

Cape Kiwanda's tall cliffs create a natural breakwater for the sea.  A perfect place for surfers to launch their boards, I glimpsed quite a few of them bobbing in the waves.  And, yes, in the cold Pacific Ocean wetsuits are worn nearly year-round.

Artsy wave and colors

The sheltered beach directly south of Cape Kiwanda is also a perfect place for launching dories - an open-hulled, flat-bottomed fishing boat that is pushed or rowed into the surf directly from the beach.

Launching a dory

While strolling along the waterline, I was lucky enough to catch one of these boats being launched.  Vehicle are allowed to drive onto the sand, and back their trailers right into the surf.  About that same time, I also witnessed another dory landing.  It slid right up onto the sand!

These flat-bottomed boats run right onto the beach

During later research I learned that these boats are unique to this particular beach.  Dories have been in use since the early 1900s here, and commercial fisherman still use them to this day.  These sturdy vessels have an incredible safety record.  In over 100 years of use, only 6 dorymen are known to have lost their lives.

Golden reflections

After watching both dories take on passengers and bob back into the ocean, I continued my walk along the shore, admiring the colorful patterns of reflections in the sand.


At the base of these mighty cliffs were a series of flat rocks, all smoothed by eons of wave action.  In the shadow of these outcroppings, tidepools flourished.

Checking out tidepools

The area was packed with people.  Kids splashed in shallow streams, dogs ran about chasing balls, and teenagers hopped from rock to rock.

Tidepool creatures

But I was only interested in photographing the tidepool creatures.  Like these purple-hued anemones.

Colorful layers in this rock

Or this colorful layered rock, polished smooth by constant wave action.

Ocean view from tidepool area

Scrambling upon the rocky shelf, I was treated to a magnificent ocean view.

Interesting rock formations

The green lichen and blue water weren't too shabby either.

Climbing the big dune

Reaching the headland's base, I noticed lots of young people climbing the gentler cliffs.  Towards shore, the headland transitioned into a massive sand dune.  Several beach-goers were hiking to the dune's summit.  Of course, I wanted to check it out, and followed the well-worn path in the sand.

Top of dune beach view

It was a tough trek.  My foot, although nearly healed, didn't care for the loose sand's uneven footing.  I had to slow my stride, and pick my path, each step placing a foot in an existing footprint.

Waves crash against steep cliffs

But once on top, the views were so worth it!  In one direction was a grand overlook of the entire Cape Kiwanda Beach and adjacent town of Pacific City.  Another path led visitors to the brink some high cliffs, where waves crashed far below.  A wire fence kept unwary people from the unstable edge (although I noted quite a few folks ignoring the posted warnings.  More natural selection!) .

Surfer reflection

There were several paths criss-crossing the dune's very top.  I wanted to explore more, but my foot, not happy with the shifting sands, put up a protest.  So I slid back down the dune to find firmer footing near water's edge.

Cape Kiwanda side view

Although mid-morning sun had faded the colors somewhat, I still managed to find some more gorgeous reflections to photograph.  And I enjoyed watching a bunch of surfers paddling across the foamy waves.

Layers of color and water

A popular beach, by midday it was beginning to fill up with people and their vehicles.  So I decided to take an early lunch break at the nearby Pelican Pub.  After enjoying an excellent bowl of clam chowder, it was time to pack up and head further south to explore another "new to me" portion of the coast - Cascade Head.  Join me for my next post and you'll hear all about it!

In closing, I'd like to thank Barb for pointing out that my blog's Facebook and Instagram "follow" buttons no longer worked.  This issue has now been corrected.  Now not only can you follow my blog via these mediums, thanks to my new GoPro, I've also added an icon for my new, ever-expanding youtube channel.

Sharing with:  Scenic Weekends and Weekend Reflections and Weekly Top Shot


  1. Living near to a low-lying coast I'm always excited where the sea comes into contact with hard rock. The stretch of coastline you've shown us has reawakened that need in me!

  2. I am swept away with all this beauty of water, rocks and beach views. What a grand place to wander with a camera. The macro detail of the rock layers particulalrly intrigue me. Great photos.

  3. The beach is really fascinating, and I'm glad you finally made the trip. So lucky that you only live a 2 hour drive away from it. I love the smooth dunes as well as the rugged shorelines. You should post the links to your social media on the blog somewhere, would love to follow you there as well. (I looked in your about section but couldn't find it).

    Mersad Donko Photography

  4. As always Linda these are just wonderful images. I have never been south of Tillamook, something else to discover. Tom The Backroads Traveller

  5. You did well climbing the dunes. I think it's hard even with two healthy feet. :) I agree the trek was worth it. Funny how you can live so close to a place and never have visited it before.

  6. Absolutely stunning pictures! A few of them caused me to stop and gaze for a long time. Thank you so much for sharing this with me. I'm glad I got to visit this spot with you! :-)

  7. Big change from your usual mountain skiing, but awesome pictures!

  8. What an amazing area! Your images are spectacular. "White crashing waves" really stands out.

  9. What a great place to visit, that dune is awesome! I enjoyed all your photographs:)

  10. What a gorgeous place! Magnificent photography!

    Happy Weekend to you,
    artmusedog and carol

  11. Beautiful place, Linda, and your photos are gorgeous!

  12. Hi Linda, Your photos bring back memories of our trip up the coast a few years ago. We stayed at Kiwanda (across the street in the motel) for a couple days. One early morning we were treated to a rainbow over the ocean as we walked the beach. We also did the hike on the dunes. An area I liked even better was Yachats - did you ever visit there? So scenic! PS Enjoy your last ski week! Temps rising here - not good news for our mountains either.

  13. What a beautiful place, I wish I was here, looks so nice and warm :) Lovely pictures ..

  14. Hi Linda,
    a super beautiful scenery, water slaps on the Cliff wow, that was certainly a great trip !!
    greet Frank

  15. what a beautiful collection on the beach... Excellent photos and reflection is magnifique...

  16. Such an amazing area, captured beautifully. Perhaps (it's hard to really choose) my favorite thing of all about the coast is the creatures in the tide pools. They're fabulous and fascinating!!

  17. What a great series of shots from the surfer to the sea creatures, just fabulous.

  18. You certainly are fortunate to have such magnificent scenery to photograph. You do a great job of capturing these scenes. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Great post linda - I'd be all over those dunes. I love climbing on stuff like that.

  20. I really like Cape Kiawanda. Been there a few times. I love the cave in the big rock. I like your photo of it. Not been that close to get it...good times and lovely photos. Thanks!

  21. So that's what it looks like up top -- very pretty! Love the reflections, the dories (always) and tidepool life!
    Looking forward to seeing Cascade Head through your lens.
    Blessings, Aimee

  22. What a wonderful find for you! The more I see of your coast, the more I'm reminded of some of New Zealand's coastline.

  23. Ohh these are so awesome views. How wonderful it is that you've shared them with us. Those tidepool creatures are kinda cute.

  24. Wow, all the beauty so close to home! I'm amazed by the sand...I picture that all rocky. I had to stop at the tide pool pictures, seeing them in California is something my family will never forget!

  25. What a truly beautiful area!

  26. Oh, you bring back so many memories!!! I've been longing to visit the beach's just a LOOOOONG way from our lil' corner here in the SE. But, we plan on coming in the next couple of years...horses in tow. I lived at Seaside for a couple of years and ran a dude string taking people on the beach for rides at Warrenton many years ago. I still remember riding in t-shirts in February on the beach! Thanks for the memories~Karen

  27. Marvelous pictures! Love the gold tones!

  28. Gorgeous photos from the beach! I love the cliffs and the waves.

  29. fabulous beach and ocean views. Oh how I wish I lived closer to the ocean too.

  30. Your photos of the crashing waves and of the tidepool creatures are my favorites, though I thoroughly enjoyed them all! Makes me miss the ocean!

  31. I haven't seen the entire coast line of Oregon, but this spot is my favorite so far. Great tide pools, the dune is fun to climb and we've seen whales from here. Great photos!


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