Friday, June 14, 2024

Beach Time at Bandon

Bandon, Oregon.  The town with my all time favorite ocean beach.  It had been well over a year since I'd visited this gorgeous piece of heaven.  Time to plan a return trip!

Classic Bandon beach view

Spring is a perfect time to visit the Oregon coast.  Wildflowers are blooming, birds and other aquatic animals are having their babies, and increased daylight means more time outdoors.  I made yurt reservations at Bandon's nearby state park for late April and counted down the days.

Pretty oceanside cliffs

The first thing I always do when pulling into town is head directly for the beach.  Bandon's main beach is stunning, with craggy seastacks, tall cliffs decked in yellow wildflowers, and a wide expanse of sand (at low tide, anyway.)  On this day the beach was littered with thousands of small jellyfish-like creatures.  Called velella velella, these sea animals float on the ocean's surface, propelled by a small sail.  At the mercy of prevailing winds, colonies of velella velella are often subject to mass strandings on ocean beaches.  Such was the case today where I observed tiny blue bodies everywhere.

Lots of velella velella washed up on the beach

I'd seen this phenomenon once before many years ago.  Apparently velella velella mass strandings happen on some sort of cycle.  Mother Nature or not, it was sad to walk along the beach stepping over so many of these lifeless organisms.  

Velella velella close up 

After checking into my cozy yurt, home for the next two nights, I returned to the beach for sunset.  Bandon's beach is known for fabulous sunsets, the ocean sky framed by tall rock pinnacles.

Horse riders on the beach

Of course, I was a bit early.  So I entertained myself by photographing other things.  A group of horse riders trotted along the sand, and I couldn't help capturing a few pics of them.

Almost time for sunset!

Per usual, it was a bit windy on the beach.  Still having a hour to wait, I moved near the cliff, hoping it would break the wind.  It wasn't a bad view at all - I considered just staying put for sunset.

There she goes!

But in the end, I elected to wander a bit.  I walked up and down the beach, checking out the surroundings.  It's always difficult for me to chose the best sunset spot.  What should I include in the foreground?  The cluster of seastacks?  The interesting rock in the sand?  This time I tried to include both.

Post-sunset light

It was a beautiful evening.  The sun sank behind a cloud layer on the horizon, shooting up a few last rays before disappearing for another day.

Coquille River Lighthouse with lovely clouds

The next morning dawned cloudy, so I didn't bother getting up for sunrise.  After a bit of breakfast, I drove over to nearby Coquille River Lighthouse.  Although not in use anymore, the lighthouse is maintained by Oregon State Parks as a tourist attraction.  Sitting on a scenic spot along the Coquille River, I love photographing this landmark and always pay it a visit when in town.

Beautiful morning at the lighthouse

The yellow gorse was blooming around the lighthouse, which made for a pretty foreground.  Climbing out onto the surrounding jetty rocks for another perspective, I was delighted to see blue sky peeking through the clouds.  It didn't take long for blue to overtake the grey, leaving lovely puffy clouds in the sky.  A perfect backdrop!

Wildflowers at Devils Kitchen beach

After a quick stop at Bandon Coffee Cafe (highly recommended!) for a latte and second breakfast, I headed over to check out Devils Kitchen Beach, a place I'd never visited on all my prior trips.

Interesting rocks

Pulling into the parking area, I was greeted with a huge spread of wildflowers covering the grassy dunes surrounding this beach.

Sea stack

There were a bunch of interesting sea stacks here too.  Along with more washed-up velella velella bodies.  I spent a happy couple of hours wandering this beach, snapping copious photographs.  

Oystercatcher with it's lunch

Then with low tide approaching, I headed back to Bandon's main beach to check out the animal life.

Two oystercatchers

Walking near Elephant Rock, I spotted two oystercatchers searching the rocks for food.  These birds with their black bodies and bright orange bills are interesting to watch.  I noticed another lady with a long lens also photographing these birds.  We struck up a conversation, and discovered she too was traveling solo and loved to come here to photograph the sights.  The lady was staying in the same campground as I, camping in her van.

Harbor seal enjoying the day

After watching the oystercatchers for awhile, we moved over to where several Harbor seals were perched on the rocks.  No action happening in seal-ville, they were all just chilling.  Nothing much bothered these seals, even when waves from the incoming tide splashed over their bodies.

Harbor seal getting splashed

I spent so much time chatting with my new photographer friend, I nearly missed low tide.  Some of the larger seastacks have amazing tidepools around their bases.  By the time I got out there however, the water was flowing back with many of them already underwater.  I did manage to get one nice shot of an orange seastar, surrounded by velella velella bodies.


The incoming tide seemed to be bringing in even more of these little blue sailors.  The beach was littered with their squishy bodies, so much so that I couldn't avoid stepping on them.

Thousands of velella velella on the beach

After dinner at Tony's Crab Shack (another local favorite) I returned to capture sunset number two of my trip.  Parking at Coquille Point, I decided to set up on top of the bluff instead on the beach.  High tide was coinciding with sunset, and I didn't think there would be enough beach left.

Evening light

The sinking sun lit up Bandon Beach with some of the most beautiful light.  It turned the water a bright shade of blue.  While waiting for sunset, I enjoyed watching white, frothy waves crash over the seastacks.

Sunset number two!

It was another nice sunset, cut short by thick clouds near the horizon.  I still enjoyed some nice colors in the sky before packing things up for the evening.

The end of another great day

I got lucky with two dry, partially sunny days during my time in Bandon.  Tomorrow I planned to head to the town of Brookings, the southernmost point on the Oregon coast.  I'll recap the rest of my trip in the next post.  Stay tuned!


  1. ...thanks for taking me along on the fabulous tour.

  2. Sad to see all those jelly fish left stranded on the beach. Great shots of the beach with the rocks and wildlife. Sounds a great place for a getaway.

  3. Bandon is my favorite OR beach town too! So very beautiful...

  4. The beaches of Oregon always look spectacular in your photos!

  5. Amazing photos! The beach, animals and wildflowers look really beautiful.


Don't be shy! Please leave a comment.