Kite flying, sandcastle building, sunbathing, riding bicycles, surreys and horses… activities on the beach are endless. Visitors and locals alike enjoy spending endless hours on the 28-mile stretch of sand known as the Long Beach Peninsula. Whether splashing through sand puddles and exploring tide pools, surf fishing or bird watching, most visitors have a few questions in common.
Can I go wading & swimming?
Our stretch of the Pacific is beautiful to behold, but isn’t very user friendly. Swimming is strongly discouraged with the exception of Waikiki Beach in Cape Disappointment State Park. Waders must be aware of frequent and treacherous rip tides (side currents), sneaker waves (large, random waves), and undertows. These, along with very low water temperatures (even in summer) get even strong adult swimmers in trouble before they know it. Watch children wading VERY CLOSELY and be aware that we have no lifeguards. Take a look at our page on beach safety.
How about surfing and belly boarding?
If you don’t have a wetsuit, forget it! And even if you do, proceed with caution. Because our ocean waters are very cold and the tides and currents are tricky, even the most experienced surfers must approach the surf with extreme caution. Take a look at our page on beach safety.
Can we camp on the beach?
Tent and RV Camping are not allowed on the beach or in the dunes. There are a number of fine private campgrounds and RV Parks, as well as Cape Disappointment State Park which has yurts, cabins, tent camping and RV spaces.
Can we build a bonfire / cooking fire/ recreational fire?
Recreational beach fires are permitted 100 feet west (that’s toward the ocean) of the highly flammable dune grass. Fires can be up to 4? x 3? x 3? in size. Check to be sure a burn ban isn’t in effect (360.665.3508), be aware of wind direction and be sure to completely extinguish the fire before leaving the area. Please bag all refuse from picnics or celebrations. Do not attempt to burn or bury it.
Can we drive on the beach?
Yes! Some sections of the beach are closed between April and September, and the tip of the Peninsula is closed year round; please see our page on beach driving for details. The beach is designated as a State Highway, with a speed limit of 25 mph and all the regular rules of the road.
What do I do if I find a baby seal or injured bird?
Harbor seal pups are born between mid-April and June. The pups stay with their mothers for about 4-6 weeks and join the adult seals during their haul-outs (daily resting and warming periods that last several hours). Seals are less mobile and therefore more vulnerable while they are out of the water. Adults will flee to the water if they are disturbed or approached and may leave their pups behind. If the disturbance near the pup goes away, the female is likely to return to the shore and reclaim her pup, but if activity continues near the pup, she may eventually give up trying to return. The pups and mothers have successfully reunited up to 48 hours after separation.
If you see a seal on the beach, give it room, at least 100 yards. Observe from a distance using binoculars if you really want to see the animals close up. By all means, keep pets away. Baby seals can easily fall prey to dogs and older seals may bite in self defense. Some diseases are infectious to both dogs and seals, and people can also be at risk if they come into direct contact with an infected animal.
The pup may have been left on shore to warm up or to rest. Do NOT handle, cover, attempt to feed, or pour water on the pup. The kindest thing you can do for the seal pup is to back away and watch from a distance. If the pup has been unattended for 48 hours, or is clearly injured, contact the Seaside Aquarium Marine Mammal Stranding Network at (503) 738-6211.
Seals are federally protected from harassment and capture by the public. If you observe incidents of people or pets tormenting, disturbing or attempting to remove a seal from the beach, contact the NOAA Fisheries Enforcement Hotline at 1-800-853-1964 to report a violation.
If you encounter an injured bird, call the Wildlife Center of the North Coast at 503.338.0331. If you can safely capture the bird place it in a ventilated cardboard box in a warm, quiet area and keep human contact to a minimum. Be aware that any wildlife species can cause injury or transmit disease to you.
Can we play on beach logs?
Logs and beach debris cannot be trusted to stay put! A perfectly stable looking log can be lifted up by a sneaker wave at any time, causing serious injury. Please stay away from logs on the beach and keep your family outing safe and enjoyable. Take a look at our page on beach safety.
Why are all these Tsunami (tidal wave) signs around? Is there a real risk?
Tsunamis, or tidal waves, are huge waves caused by an earthquake out in the ocean. While we haven’t had a tsunami in this area in hundreds of years, earthquakes affecting our coastline are possible. Should a tsunami hit our coast, there may not be much warning time (how far away the epicenter of the quake determines the amount of warning time). Follow the tsunami evacuation route signs for high ground at least 50 feet above sea level and stay there until further notice as the waves come in multiple sets. Pay close attention to emergency officials and return only after they say it is safe.
Can we ride horses on the beach?
Absolutely. Horse rentals are available on the Sid Snyder beach approach in Long Beach, or you can bring your own horse to the beach. Horse camping and stables are available. See our page on horseback adventures for more information.