Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Back to Bandon

(The final installment of my early May trip to the Southern Oregon coast)

Oh Bandon, how do I love thee?

One of my favorite places on the Oregon coast, the charming beach town of Bandon stole my heart the first time I visited in 2015.  With the exception of 2017, I've returned every year since.

Classic Bandon beach photo

After spending three days in the coastal town of Brookings, I eagerly loaded my car for the 90-mile drive north.  Oh, it was fabulous to be back in Bandon!  I visited my favorite seafood joint and then headed to Face Rock Wayside to capture some classic beach views.  Gorse, a yellow-flowering plant, was in full bloom atop the steep cliffs.  Although considered invasive, it sure made for stunning photos.

Sea stacks

I loved the pointy sea stacks jutting up from the water.  Great lens candy!

Evening fog is rolling in

Once settled into my yurt at nearby Bullards Beach State Park, I returned to the beach in hopes of capturing sunset.  After being skunked by fog the past two evenings, the afternoon's clear skies had been encouraging.  But....climbing the stairs down to the sand, I noticed a cloud bank lingering in the distance.  (cue ominous music...)

Birds in flight

Waiting for the sun to drop, I wandered among the rocks, looking for tidepool life.  A few hours too late for low tide, the tidepools were already covered with water.  I did spot a bunch of seals perched on nearby rocks and kicked myself for leaving my zoom lens back at the yurt.  Oh well, it was fun to watch their antics. 

Sea stack peek-a-boo

As the clock edged closer to sunset time, the lingering offshore clouds began moving in until the entire beach was cloaked in a heavy fog - again!  Trying to make the best of another disappointing situation, I wandered among the tall sea stacks, looking for other photo ops.  I ran into a bunch of photographers, part of a photo workshop, tripods planted along the sand.  I chatted with one man who'd traveled all the way from Illinois, hoping to capture some magnificent beach sunsets.  I felt bad for him, paying big bucks for the workshop only to be skunked by Mother Nature.

Tender moment between momma and baby

The following morning, I awoke to overcast skies.  With clouds obscuring the sun, there was no hurry to photograph sunrise.  However, I did want to be on the beach early enough to beat the crowds, and hopefully see some wildlife.  This time I brought my zoom lens just in case.

Seal giving me the eye

I was in luck!  The seals were back on the same rocks as yesterday.  Not only were there lots of full-grown seals, I even spotted one baby with his mother.  Oh was he cute!

Mother seal and baby

I spent over an hour watching the seals, capturing lots of images.  But the seals soon tired of my presence, many sliding into the water and swimming away.  That was my cue to move on.

Baby seal scooting over the sand

There was other wildlife to see.  I spotted a pair of oystercatchers perched on a nearby rock.  Their black bodies blended so well with the surroundings, if not for their bright orange beaks I would've totally missed these birds.


After missing low tide the night before, I arrived with plenty of time to catch it that morning.  I began to notice green anemones clinging on the undersides of nearby rocks.  Every once and awhile I'd also spot an orange seastar.

Tidepool sea life

Some of the pools were quite colorful - purple and orange seastars blended with the green hues of the anemones.

Colorful sea stars

Once out of water, the anemones would transform from a light green color with fuzzy tentacles into an olive green slimy tube.  Looked like a bunch of saggy, one-eyed Dr. Seuss creatures!

Interesting tidepool creatures

The only good thing about the day's cloudy weather - even light for photography and overcast skies made the tidepool creature's colors pop.

Sea anemones

After moseying around the beach for a good two-plus hours, I was getting cold and hungry.  Time to head to my favorite bakery to fill up on cranberry-white chocolate cookies and a breakfast burrito.

Foggy ocean view

Before heading to breakfast I made one final stop at Face Rock Wayside.  Although the light wasn't great for beach landscape photos, I did notice a dozen people on the beach raking lines into the sand.  It was the famous "Circles in the Sand" crew creating another labyrinth on the beach.

Volunteers making a labyrinth on Bandon beach

Circles in the Sand is a public art project that draws intricate patterns in the hard, wet sand of low tide.  It began in 2015, and is enthusiastically supported by local fans and sponsors.  A group of dedicated volunteers are assembled for each project, all using sticks to create the winding labyrinth designs.  Once complete, the creations are opened to the public, and remain on the beach until being washed away by high tide.  To learn more go to this website:  Sandy Path Bandon.   

I chatted with one volunteer about the day's pattern.  As his group was just getting started, he invited me to stop back in a couple of hours to view the finished product.  Unfortunately, after having breakfast and packing up to go home, I never did return.  Something to save for next year's visit.

Overview of the design in progress

Yes, I will be back.  I've already got a May 2020 Southern Oregon Coast trip bookmarked on my calendar.  And hopefully next year I'll miss the fog!


  1. ...it looks like it's been TOO long since I've been to the Oregon coast. I need to do something about that!

  2. Um belo refugio para a vida selvagem, aproveito para desejar a continuação de uma boa semana.

    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa
    O prazer dos livros

  3. Those photos! So beautiful! I'm adding Bandon to my bucket list of vacation places. I love exploring tide pools.

  4. Well, I hope that Illinois Man was out and about next morning to make the best of the fine photo opportunities that you found. I would love to visit a place like that and I'm sure I could find something better to do than make marks in the sand with a stick!

  5. Beautiful photos of one of my favorite OR towns too! How neat to catch the Circles in the Sand Folks as they create their drawing. I've walked the finished design before, it is magical. I think I could live in Bandon...though I do wonder if the reality of the long wet winters would get old...

  6. That Oregon coast is certainly spectacular! I love the tide pools.

  7. I can see why you like it. Spectacular place.

  8. I love Bandon! And you stayed in a yurt! You must have planned ahead to get one.

  9. Hello, Bandon does look beautiful. I love the Oregon coastline. The birds and seals are great to see, the little seals are so cute. Lovely series of photos. Enjoy your day, wishing you a happy weekend ahead.

  10. Disappointing for you that the sunset opportunities were nil, but still a fabulous post of wonderful images. The seals are just lovely.

  11. Not heard of Circles in the Sand before, what a pity you didn't see the finished labyrinthe. Great photos of the rockpools.

  12. Linda, these are some of the best Oregon coast photographs I've ever seen. I love the seal pictures, and the bright green of the sea anemones, and the labyrinth on the beach. I've not seen this festival; will have to make a trip to Bandon to see this in person. When I was a kid, we spent a lot of time on this part of the Oregon coast, and I miss it. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  13. WOW! The Oregon coast is definitely on our bucket list. We want to drive from San Francisco to the end of Washington state along the coastal roads one day and enjoy all the sights along the way. We already did that trip from San Diego to San Francisco a few years ago.


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