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Really Odd U.S. Tourism: Rare Oregon Finds That Will Blow You Away

Published 04/04/2014

(Oregon Coast) – Where can you find extremely rare and mind-blowing sights like the green flash at sunset, sand that glows or spouting horns where the ocean fires upwards in a tight stream? The Oregon coast, of course. (Above: Cook's Chasm).

Some of these are incredibly rare on these beaches, but they are worth looking out for.

Spouting horns are tremendous displays only found on the central Oregon coast. They're slightly rare – but they are spectacular and worth the drive. They are basically crevices in the rocks that compress the wave action and then some hole nearby releases that pressure in a geyser-like fireworks show of ocean water.

The two biggest are at Depoe Bay and a ways south of Yachats at Cook's Chasm. Both are highly dependent on tidal conditions. But if you've never seen ocean water fire off as high as thirty feet in the air, you're in for a treat. Especially when you consider it's all because of a relatively small hole.

Depoe Bay's geyser is more dependent on bigger waves, so you're chances of seeing it are less in summer. The one at Cook's Chasm, however, is more common, and it makes a wild hissing noise. It sounds and looks a lot like a whale's blowhole.

Another smaller one is on the southern end of Yachats Bay, and it also hisses. Devil's Churn near Yachats has wave action that sometimes resembles a blowhole, but it technically isn't – though it can be downright jaw-dropping. See the links for directions to each.

If tidal conditions are extremely wild, you might see something similar at Oceanside's Maxwell Point on the north Oregon coast. There is, unfortunately, nothing of the sort in the rest of the north coast, such as at popular spots like Mananzanita, Seaside or Cannon Beach.

One wild rarity – and it is rare – is called the Green Flash At Sunset.

This phenomenon usually shows up as a tiny section of the sun suddenly turning a tad green, or showing a green blob of sorts. It can also show up on one part of the sun’s sliver, or as a kind of halo around it at times. Each one is very different.

This effect is the result of refraction in the atmosphere. In very simplified terms, longer bandwidths of light get knocked out by atmospheric conditions until you’re left with just green. Basically, the path between your eye and this portion of the sun are filled with just the right conditions to cut out all other colors coming from the sun, except green.

Wait a while, until it gets truly dark, and you may get really lucky and see glowing sand on these beaches.

That's right. Sand that glows.

It shows up as tiny, greenish/blue sparks when you're walking near the tide line. You have to be walking on wet sand and it has to be almost completely dark around you. They can be extremely faint sometimes.

Most spectacular – but rarer – is when you step in a puddle of sea water that's been around all day and a whole galaxy of them explodes beneath your feet. It's absolutely gasp-inducing.

The cause of this is a form of phytoplankton called dinoflagellates – part of the family of microscopic plants that form the bottom of the food chain for marine life. This particular brand is bioluminescent, meaning they give off a glow when disturbed or bumped through internal chemistry processes, much in the same way a firefly does.

When there is a lot of sun earlier that day, the last two days, you're chances of seeing it are better. Also, look for signs of gobs of other phytoplankton, such as an extremely foamy beach or even brownish waves. This often means the right kind of microorganisms are out there. Where to stay for this - Where to eat - Maps and Virtual Tours

Unfortunately, it's too faint to be photographed. More about the Oregon coast at night below.


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A famous little family eatery where the seafood practically gets shuffled from the sea straight into your mouth. Soups and salads include many seafood specialties, including cioppino, chowders, crab Louie and cheese breads. Fish 'n' chips come w/ various fish. Seafood sandwiches with shrimp, tuna or crab, as well as burgers. Dinners like pan fried oysters, fillets of salmon or halibut, saut�ed scallops.
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