The Do’s of Enjoying Bandon’s Beach this Summer

Although Bandon is a place that is enjoyable year-round, most people get a chance to visit the beach in the summer.  It’s hard to go wrong when walking the sand, but some tips from one who knows are always handy.  This began as a “Do’s and Don’ts” list, but it seemed much more fun to look at it all from the DO perspective!

DO bring a sweater.  You may have come from a place where summer sun means 90-degree temperatures, but don’t let the Oregon coast sun fool you.  The average temperature in July is in the mid-60s, and there is often a north wind that can be pretty strong.  You may encounter a rare windless day that feels nice and warm, but always plan to dress in layers.

DO get your feet wet.  Take off your shoes, and walk close to the water’s edge.  As waves engulf your feet, you get a shock and thrill of cold water that can be invigorating.  The Pacific Ocean can be pleasant in Southern California, but its personality changes as one travels north.  The Oregon Coast is not a place to play in the water for extended periods of time; the water temperatures on the southern Oregon Coast hover between 51-53 degrees in the summer compared to mid-60s in Santa Barbara and upper 60s in Santa Monica.

DO bring your dog to the beach!  The dogs’ unbridled joy on the beach is a sight to behold.  Free of leashes, fences, and the straight and narrow, they run, dig, bark, chase, and splash.  The length of their tongues hanging from their smiling mouths are visible testaments to their happiness.  Keep an eye on Fido while he frolics.  Not everyone (and not everyone’s dogs) loves dogs, and we all need to help protect sea life and their habitats.  Keep your dogs away from birds, seals, and any other animal on the beach, and follow some simple rules of etiquette.

DO build a driftwood fort.  There is plenty of building material and plenty of time, so get to work!  When you’re done, enjoy your new home for a while, then leave the driftwood on the beach.

DO stay for the sunset.  With its sea stacks and rock formations jutting up out of the sand as background, Bandon’s sunsets are some of the best on the Oregon Coast.  Take lots of pictures, but don’t take your attention from the sky and its changing colors as the sun makes its way to and disappears into the ocean.

DO bring a picnic.  You’ll want to stay on the beach for several hours, and you won’t want to leave for a meal.  Keep in mind, however, that the summer winds plus dry sand can equal sand in your food, so find a spot to eat where the wind is blocked.  You’ll get nice and warm and enjoy a meal where the only thing that crunches is your fresh vegetables or chips, not grains of sand.  Just keep an eye on your trash; the wind will grab it and take it away very quickly!

DO take pictures.  Lots and lots of pictures!  Whether you bring a fancy SLR camera and tripod or your phone, capture every moment you can.  Photograph starfish, sea anemones, seals, bouncing dogs, birds, and each other so you’ll never forget your beach day.

DO be respectful of sea life, birds, and their habitat.  You will likely see harbor seals, crabs, and lots of birds, but please remember that the beach and the ocean are their homes, and they’d prefer to be left alone.  Birds nest on the tops of the beautiful sea stacks that Bandon is so well known for, so there are strict rules about climbing them.  Read this from the City of Bandon’s website:

Bandon’s sandy beach is unique in that it is home to so many huge “sea stacks” (erosional remnants of an ancient marine terrace), which lend beauty and majesty to the coastline. Some of them are on the part of the beach which is not covered by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service rules: any rock that is surrounded by water at mean high tide is off limits (illegal) to climb and that includes Elephant Rock and Coquille Point Rocks (even though these are reachable from the beach) and Cathedral Rock (across from Face Rock Wayside), Table Rock and Rock 105 (Haystack). This rule is to protect the sea birds and seals that use these rocks for nesting, resting and caring for their young. 

DO run around, do a cartwheel, jump.  There’s something about the beach that makes dogs and kids go wild.  Maybe it’s the wind or the cold water or the expansive beach without fences or cars to look out for.  Whatever the reason, join in!

DO take off your shoes.  The sand feels amazing on your feet and between your toes, and without shoes, you will be able to walk across the shallow streams that cross the beach on the way to the ocean without worrying about getting your shoes wet.  Besides, who really wants to spend 10 minutes knocking the sand out of their shoes?

DO keep your eye on the ocean.  Sneaker waves (disproportionately large waves that come up onto the beach much further than the ones before them) have been known to cause trouble.  Most of the time they simply make people laugh as they are forced to run towards shore to avoid them, and often someone’s feet will get unexpectedly soaked, but these waves have also carried swimmers out into the sea.

DO talk to others.  Bandon’s beaches draw all kinds of people from all over the world, even those of us who live right here in Bandon, and this means there are hundreds of interesting people to meet.  Fortunately, almost no one is in a hurry around here, so reach out and meet some new people!

DO walk a labyrinth.  Bandon is so fortunate to have Denny Dyke, labyrinth artist, among its residents.  Many mornings throughout the year, he can be seen with a group of helpers drawing elaborate pathways in the sand for walking and meditating.  The labyrinths are typically drawn in the sand below the Face Rock Viewpoint.  If you see one, join in!  For the best view, climb the stairs to the Viewpoint above.  Check the schedule so you don’t miss it!


DO consider the sea stacks.  The rocks that seem to have shot up out of the sand all along Bandon’s beaches are actually part of what used to be the headlands that was worn down with wind, water, and time.  Some of the most distinct are Face Rock, the Cat and Kittens, Komax, Cathedral Rock, and Elephant Rock.


DO give thanks to Governors Oswald West and Tom McCall.  Walking the miles of beaches in Oregon, one will never encounter a fence or a “Private Property” sign.  Thanks to two Oregon governors and their love of the state’s beautiful coastline, Oregon’s beaches are public.  Pause just a moment to say thank you to their memories!

DO pick up some trash.  Although it’s not a huge problem on Bandon’s beaches, there are always bits of trash that can be disposed of.  Besides being an eyesore in a beautiful setting, it’s bad news for the sea life that eat it and get tangled in it.  Check out Washed Ashore for one artist’s response to trash found on the beach!

DO take a horseback ride.  Ever pictured yourself on horseback on the shore at sunset?  It’s possible in Bandon!  Bandon Beach Riding Stables has been leading horseback rides on the beach for years, and you’re sure to have a great time.

DO ride a bike.  “What?  In the sand?” you ask?  Modern fat-tire bikes are perfect for floating on top of our summer sand and offer an easy way to cruise the beach!  Check out the rentals at South Coast Bicycles, or bring your own!

DO wear sunscreen.  It may not feel hot on the beach, but don’t let the temperature fool you.  It’s still possible to get a sunburn!  Lotion up, and stay out there as long as you want!

DO catch some fish.  The best place for fishing off the shore is at the South Jetty.  Anglers catch perch and rockfish, and those who don’t catch anything can still have a pleasant day on the beach!

DO gaze at Face Rock.  Look closely at it; do you see the face of a young woman with her head tilted up to the sky?  This particular sea stack has a sad and beautiful Native American legend that goes with it.  The best place to see it is from the Face Rock Viewpoint on Beach Loop Drive, and it is particularly lovely at sunset.

There are so many wonderful and amazing things about Bandon and its world-ranked beaches.  Be sure to plan several days to enjoy it all!

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