Known as "The Big Hill" to the native Siuslaw Indians, Heceta Head Lighthouse sits atop the rugged outcrop of what is now called Heceta Head. Bruno de Heceta was a Spanish sea captain who sailed up the Pacific Coast in 1775, and was the first to discover the entrance to the Columbia River Thee Lighthouse and Keepers' House is at Devil's Elbow State Park, a popular beach and picnic area north of Florence. Tide pools and tiny sea caves are filled with shells, sea anemones, star fish and mussels. A trail leads to the Keepers House and Lighthouse, where you can climb up to the frensal inside.
Sea Lion Caves
The Guiness Book of World Records has recently confirmed Sea Lion Caves as the largest sea caves in the world. It is the only known remaining home of wild stellar sea lions on the North American mainland and has attracted people from all over the world since its opening 65 years ago to the public. 11 miles north of Florence, open 9:00 am.
40 miles of dunes, many over 300 feet high begin in Florence and stretch to the North Bend area. Plenty of recreational activities can be found on these massive dunes, from horseback riding to dune buggy tours. Take a walk on the many trails through the dunes or view the wavelike mounds, that sit among little forested islands, through enclosed viewing platforms at the Dunes Overlook south of town.
Whales & Sea Life
Gray Whale migration whales migrate past on their way to and from the waters off Alaska and Mexico. We watch whales in the winter from mid-December through January. Spring watching begins in March with the peak near the end of the month and finishes in June with mothers and babies traveling north. Summer brings whales that feed along our coast from July to mid-November.
Killer Whales are seen in less abundance than gray whales although they generally show up around the same times as they feed on baby gray whales, seals and sea lions. They are typically seen between Florence and Lincoln City.
Both the Stellar Sea Lion and California Sea Lion make their home along the rocky shores at Sea Lion Caves, just north of Florence. The larger Stellar Sea Lion uses the cave as a breeding area and wintering home, while the male California Sea Lion is usually only seen in winter.
Seal species that can be seen in the Florence area include the Northern Elephant Seal and the Harbor Seal, and less frequently the Northern Fur Seal. Typically they will be spotted bobbing in the water or river, and occasionally taking to the docks or to the north at the Seal Rock shoreline.
Sea Otters have been extinct along the Oregon Coast for about 100 years. Once every 4-5 years an otter from the Northern California colony is caught in the currents and floats into Oregon waters.
Siuslaw Estuary - 3,000 acres of tidelands and lower salt marshes extending from Duncan Inlet to the mouth of the Siuslaw River which is home to the western sandpipers and wintering area to tundra swans.
Coastal Important Bird Area is a protected area overseen by the Portland Audobon Society that includes the Ten Mile Creek Sanctuary, Pine Tree Conservatory, Rock Creek & Cummins Creek Wildernesses and Siuslaw NF. The area provides critical habitat to the Marbled Murrelet and Spotted Owl as well as hosting the Hermit Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Hermit Thrush, Pacific-slope Flycatcher and more northwest songbirds.
Heceta Bank Important Bird Area includes Heceta Bank, Perpetua Bank, Stonewall Bank, and surrounding waters. This area is important to a variety of seabirds as the ocean upwellings bring food to the surface.
Exposed beach/Jetty break that usually has waves. Summer offers the best conditions for surfing. Offshore winds blow from the northeast with some shelter here from north winds. Most of the surf here comes from groundswells and the ideal swell angle is from the southwest. The beach breaks offer lefts and rights. Rarely crowded here. Beware of rips and sharks.
Oregon’s ocean offers a variety of fishing opportunities. For the ocean-going angler, whether on a private boat or a charter, there’s trolling for halibut, tuna, salmon and bottom fish.
From shore, anglers fish for rockfish and other bottom fish near rocky jetties, or surf perch off sandy beaches.
Crabbing is at its hottest between August and November. Locals crab the docks in Old Town or head up the South Jetty to the old Coast Guard dock. Cages can be rented at many locations, day old poultry is the preferred bait. Limit 12 males, 5 3/4"
Both mud clams and razor clams can be taken in the local area. Mud clamming at low tide along the Siuslaw River on Hwy 126 is a favorite. Others prefer the tasty razor clam that can be found at the Hobbit Trail beach and others. 15 Razor Clam, 20 Bay Clam Limit.
Limits: 72 Mussels, 1 Abalone, 10 Starfish
North Jetty Scuba Park Officially designated an underwater park in 2003, the North Jetty Access is q unique diving spot on the Oregon Coast, best for drift diving and bringing up some crab. It was once a fish hatchery and has an old ladder that has been converted to an entryway for divers. Saltwater is home to a variety of fish, cockles, horseneck clams, mussels, sculpin and Dungeness crab. Many people dive for their dinner, license required.
Whale Watch Week
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