Near Pacific City, Tierra Del Mar Hides in Plain Sight – Oregon Coast Travel Tips
Published 01/06/2019 at 5:53 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff
(Pacific City, Oregon) – If you blink, you’ll miss it. There’s one tiny Oregon coast village that appears then disappears quickly if you’re not paying attention. And it has some delightful, rugged secrets.
In many ways, Tierra Del Mar is simply hiding in plain sight. There’s maybe a small sign designating it as such, as you whiz down the Three Capes Route between tree-lined shoreline and clifftops covered in – again – more trees. It’s a stretch of flat beach that flits past your car window in that nearly-mile-long stretch between forested canopies. Then quickly – depending on your direction – it disappears as you rise with the hill towards Cape Kiwanda or you duck behind green and a small neighborhood with some cows on the eastward side of the highway.
Tierra Del Mar is a tiny unincorporated community that’s mostly tucked away behind that somewhat soaring forest. The beach itself is only a couple of miles long, maybe more, depending on how you think of it. Really it stretches about two miles miles in either direction before bumping into something else.
At one point, as you head to the north, the shoreline and the highway veer away from each other drastically for over a mile, with the Sitka Sedge State Natural Area filling up the land in between – a distance of almost a mile between highway and beach at some point. After a mile and a half or so of beach, your journey ends at the mushy lands of Sand Lake.
It’s all some of the most pristine Oregon coast lands in existence, as it’s really only open to those willing to hike a three-mile round trip.
From Tierra Del Mar southward, it’s about two miles of soft, sandy beaches until you reach Cape Kiwanda. Along this route, the highway and cliffs quickly ascend above you and sandstone structures with intricate details and scribblings of thousands of years burst into view. Erosion is the graffiti artist here; weathering and rain run-off the spraycan from which is drawn the most obscure of markings, and the most fascinating and mesmerizing of sights.
The big feature of Tierra Del Mar is, of course, that a portion of it is driveable. It’s about a quarter mile of beach where you can maneuver your vehicle around here. But it’s not advisable, and frankly it scares the hell out of most beachgoers.
Like any part of the Oregon coast, summer means high sand levels at Tierra Del Mar, and the patterns this creates are fun and funky. As you walk the beach, they’re not as apparent, however. But when you’re looking down from the highway just to the south, the giant globs and ribbed patterns are obvious.
Conversely, winter is the opposite. Low sand levels reveal gravel beds here, and these revelations are not apparent from above. Once on the beach, however, you’ll see the darker, grainier-looking beach, littered with little rocks and the gleefully engaging debris of winter storms.
Yet another awe-inspiring feature of Tierra Del Mar: the jump-off point for hang gliders. As the hill above the tiny town has almost crested, there’s a hidden viewpoint just beyond the highway barrier. This, by the way, is a kick in the pants to take pics of alternate views of Haystack Rock. Hop over the guard rail, and you may not be treated to just that spectacular view but also the coveted sight of adventurers setting up their hang gliding gear to make a running jump off the cliff and into the breezy salt air.
Hidden away inside this laidback gem of an Oregon coast village is Idyllic Beach Houses – an aptly named little biz that hosts two vacation rental homes inside this forest primeval. Hardwood floors, an enormous wrap-around juniper deck, a kids’ bunkhouse, and floor-to-ceiling windows are just some of what they bring to the game. You’ll also find vaulted ceilings, a second floor balcony, a wood stove and a barbecue. Amenities include fireplaces, major kitchen euphoria and they sleep nine to 10 people. 503-662-5420 or see the website. — – Where to eat – Maps and Virtual Tours
Sandlake Country Inn is a cozy B&B secret that’s close to all this action, hidden along the Three Capes Scenic Route near Sand Lake. About 15 minutes to Netarts Bay and ten minutes to the wildlife reserve. 8505 Galloway Rd. (Near Pacific City, Oregon). 877-726-3525. 503-965-6745. www.sandlakecountryinn.com.
in Pacific City is the Oregon coast’s newest upscale resort. You’ll find it right on the beach, with beachfront rentals, fully furnished. Five minutes or less to the Nestucca wildlife reserve. Some pet friendly. 33000 Cape Kiwanda Drive, Pacific City, Oregon. 888-965-7001. www.kiwandacottages.com
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