Swimming is Dangerous
Avoid the temptation of going swimming in the surf. While the water looks calm and inviting, it is very dangerous and has taken the lives of even the strongest of swimmers. Swimming in the ocean is not recommended on the Long Beach Peninsula for several reasons:
- Lifeguards do not patrol the beach.
- Ocean currents are dangerous at any time of the tide. There are longitudinal currents that run diagonal to the beach and rip currents that run perpendicular to the beach. These currents change from time of tide to type of tide. They also change by the location on the beach. No matter how good a swimmer, you cannot swim against these currents.
- Crab holes and underwater channels are everywhere. The currents are the strongest in these pockets, which can go from two to ten feet deep. There is no way to tell where they are from the surface of the water. When you lose your footing, you are at the mercy of the currents and waves.
- Waves are fun to play in but can knock you down or make you lose footing. Then the ocean currents have you at their mercy.
- Our average water temperature ranges from the mid 40s to the mid 60s. When you put yourself in water this cold, your body temperature drops, heading for hypothermia. As your temperature goes down, your judgment and motor skills are affected, which leads to drowning.
- Consider wearing a life jacket when playing near the water’s edge.
- Logs and debris come in the surf on a regular basis. If you get hit by a log or become tangled in a fish net or bundle of kelp, it could be fatal.
- Playing on logs in the surf is also very dangerous. A log will float at the water’s edge until the wave rolls back to sea. Then the very heavy water-soaked log can roll over and crush you. This can cause crushing injuries and drowning.
- Attempting a rescue of someone in the ocean is very dangerous. The same cold water, currents or debris that caused the victim to be in trouble will affect the rescuer. Without proper flotation, fins, wetsuit and training, you will very likely become a victim yourself. To make matters worse, if nobody sees you attempt a rescue, you will very likely be in trouble with the victim and alone. It is far better to call 911 for properly trained and equipped help.
- Never turn your back on the waves. Sneaker waves are very dangerous. They’re called sneaker waves for a reason. These strong waves appear without warning and come high up the beach. They can easily knock over adults and tumble you out to sea. Children are especially prone to this.
- Keep a close watch on your children. Children see the fun in the ocean not the dangers. They wander off and get lost in the dunes or go swimming and get lost in the currents.
Sitting around a campfire on the beach can be romantic and relaxing and it’s certainly not something you get to do everyday. Before you make plans to build a fire, be sure you know how to do so safely and legally:
- Do keep your campfire size smaller than 4 feet on each side and 3 feet in height.
- Do build your campfire at least 100 feet west of the dune line (No fires or barbeques are allowed in the very flammable dune grass area).
- Do not build a fire if it is windy.
- Do not throw explosive material (including glass bottles) into the fire.
- Do supervise children closely.
- Do report illegal fires.
- Do pack out your garbage.
- Do drench and bury your fire to extinguish it before you leave.
Here, you can drive along miles of accessible beach as you search for that perfect fishing, clamming, kite flying or picnic spot, or explore our expansive beach and its many wonders. Remember that our beach is a Washington State Highway and all laws apply. Common sense is your best friend when driving on the sand. Here are some tips and reminders:
- Do obey the maximum speed limit which is 25 MPH.
- Do observe sections of the beach closed to vehicles: The area between the Seaview Approach and Long Beach’s Bolstad Approach, and the area north of Oysterville Approach are closed to motor traffic from April 15 until the day after Labor Day. Benson and Waikiki Beaches in Cape Disappointment State Park are closed to beach driving year round.
- Do give pedestrians their legal right of way. Beach approaches can be crowded with vehicles and pedestrians. They are also very soft with powdery sand. Care must be taken when using these public accesses.
- Do drive only on the hard sand.
- Do not drive in the sand dunes. This is the soft sand area where beach grass grows. The dunes are protected and vehicle operators will be fined.
- Do not drive in the clam beds. This is the lower part of the beach at low tide where the clams live. The clams are protected and vehicle operators will be fined.
- Do wear your seatbelt.
- Do use your garbage bag.
- Do not drive through the surf. Not only does it cause rust and electrical problems to your vehicle. It also hides crab holes and channels that can swallow cars. Seriously!
- Do not use your vehicle in an off-road fashion. Spinning tires and cutting cookies is reckless driving and earns an expensive ticket.
- Do be aware when you park. If you are parked on the beach on an incoming tide there is a possibility of the waves washing around your vehicle and trapping it. Pay attention to the surf at all times and note the lowest stretch of beach you will need to cross to return.
- Do not risk driving on the beach if you do not have a 4-wheel drive vehicle. Getting towed off the beach will cost anywhere from $50 to $100. Getting towed out of the surf will be considerably higher. If you get stuck and the tide goes over your vehicle it will be totaled.
- Don’t dig caves in the dunes. Wet sand will pack but there is no support to keep it in place. Tunnels and caves will collapse leaving the person buried, possibly under many tons of sand.
- Don’t walk too close to dune cliffs. Vertical dune faces, especially those with overhangs, can collapse, burying a person who will likely suffocate before being dug out.
- Pay attention to where you are in relation to vertical dune faces. Tidal surges can trap vehicles and walkers between unstable sand walls and eroding ocean waves with fatal consequences.
Rock Cliffs and Jetties
Climbing on rocks seems attractive, especially to fisherman and children, but our unique tidal situation and the rock in this area make climbing a very dangerous activity. Assume that all cliff edges and rock jetties are unstable.
- The rock in this area is very fragile and crumbles easily; large parts are known to break off when any weight is put on them. As a result, the cliffs and rocks around the area are not suitable for climbing.
- The jetties and Fisherman’s Rock in Beards Hollow are areas that are susceptible to tides. You may get on the rocks or jetty at low tide but be trapped at high tide. During extreme tides, the rocks have waves going completely over the top of them.
- Wear proper footwear and stick to the trails when hiking. Stay behind guard fences and railings and don’t get too close to the edge. Wet trails or soft sand and earth can make for unstable footing. Rocks can be slippery even when it isn’t raining.
There are many types of wildlife that live on the beach and in the surf. Learning to enjoy them from a responsible distance will help ensure that wildlife thrives for years to come. Take the time to learn how to enjoy animals without endangering them or yourself:
- Seals and sea lions are known to come up on the beach to rest. They may look cute, but they can be very dangerous and have been known to attack people.
- Seals often leave their pups on the beach when they go hunting for food. If they are touched in any way, the mother may abandon them. Please stay a safe distance away.
- Injured animals can be unpredictable and should be avoided.
- Dead marine mammals and sea birds wash up on the beach occasionally. These carcasses carry diseases that can infect humans and pets. Do not touch them.
- Whales (dead or alive) are a protected species. Dissecting, dismembering or removing parts can spread disease and is against the law.
- Intentionally running over sea birds or mammals is against the law—and just plain mean. Remember, you are driving on a State Highway and all laws apply.
- In case of emergency, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife can be contacted through 911.
Sunbathing and Picnics
While it can feel as if you have the beach all to yourself much of the year, during peak season, you’ll see plenty of beachcombers, sand castle builders, kite flyers, Frisbee flyers, horseback and bicycle riders, runners, joggers and walkers with or without their children, dogs or friends, as well as people playing volleyball, golf or horseshoes, picnicking, barbequing, sunbathing, sunset-watching or just plain relaxing.
- The area between the Seaview Approach and Long Beach’s Bolstad Approach is closed to motor traffic from April 15 until the day after Labor Day. Benson and Waikiki beaches in Cape Disappointment State Park are closed to beach driving year round. These areas are the safest for pedestrians, sunbathers and picnickers.
- Do pack out your garbage.
- Do not set up your picnic on the hard packed sand at the water’s edge where vehicles drive. This is extremely important at higher tides or when there are larger crowds.
- Do not set up your picnic at the end of the beach approach roads, as vehicles use these as a main entrance to the beach.
- Do not bury people in the sand or build sand castles in a high traffic area.
- Do not do anything in a main traffic area that you would not do in the street in front of your house.
We hope you never need to make an emergency 911 call but, if you do, stay calm. Take a deep breath. Speak clearly. State the problem you are reporting. Listen carefully to the questions asked and the information given. Our area has some unique information related to 911:
- Using a Pay Telephone:
There is a pay phone on the Ocean Park Approach and in the downtown areas. 911 will work from these pay phones without coins. Depending on your cell phone provider and local area code, you may not get the Pacific County 911 Dispatch Center. Confusion can arise due to the similarity of town names up and down the Washington coast. For the fastest response, make sure to tell the person who answers that you are looking for the Pacific County 911 Center. Note: Cell service does not cover the entire Long Beach Peninsula. The areas around North Head, Beard’s Hollow and south of Klipsan Beach have very poor coverage. If you have no service, just try moving to a different location.
- All 911 Calls:
Tell the dispatcher approximately where you are and stay in that location until the emergency responders arrive. You will be required to give exact directions and help direct the emergency personnel to the area they are needed. There is signage at each approach indicating your location. Make note of the nearest approach name as you enter the beach.