For more than three hundred miles, the Oregon coast has presented ever-changing pictures of beauty for photographers, travelers and sight seers to enjoy. The many grassy bluffs cascading over the Pacific offers stunning ocean views of crystalline water, smashing waves, swooping gulls and distant Coast Range peaks. The natives of the Oregon Coast welcome millions of visitors each year to share in the beauty of the region as well as give vacationers the opportunity for one of a kind recreation like fishing, hiking, camping, golfing, boating, scuba diving and surfing, but the more sought after attractions arethose hidden in the offshore rocks that shelter marine mammals like the playful Sea Lions of Florence, Oregon.
A visit to the Sea Lion Caves is worth your while as the sea cave is magnificent. It is the largest in the world, and its colors make it the most beautiful. The ocean surges in and out of the cave where a herd of wild, golden Steller sea lions and their black pups take shelter. In the summer during the breeding season, enormous bulls weighing up to 2000 pounds joins the herd on rock ledges just outside the cave. The Sea Lion Caves, home of wild Steller sea lions, has been called the treasure of the Oregon Coast.
Located on U.S. highway 101, this crowd pleaser sits directly in the middle part of Oregon’s coastline in Florence, Oregon, and it is primarily underground, although the entrance can be seen from the highway. The stadium size natural cavern is partly flooded with water that flows in through a tunnel that connects to the open ocean. It’s a subterranean lagoon, serving as a preserve for two species of sea lions at their only known west coast breeding ground. The caves offer close-range sight seeing privileges at what biologists describe as marine relatives to terrestrial bears. Some of the 12-foot-long bull Steller sea lions may lounge about 30 feet from the viewing platform.
From a gift shop on the bluff above, visitors will walk a rocky terrain type scenic trail carved into the cliff to the elevator, which descends onto a ledge inside the cave about 30 feet above sea level, and don’t be surprised if a powerful fishy stench wafts up from the boulders below, as this smell is almost synonymous with these beautiful mammals, but its worth violating your nose as and the caves below are carpeted with dozens of the 500 to 1,500 pound sea lions and their pups.
It is recommended that you bring a good pair of binoculars to watch the sea lions and nesting sea birds. Flash photography is prohibited in the cave, so bring film for low-light conditions if you plan to take pictures inside. It’s cool and damp inside, so a long-sleeve shirt is recommended. Sea lions are in the cave year round, but in the spring and summer more can be seen on the rookery outside the cave. Admission is $7.00 for adults and $4.50 for children between the ages of six and sixteen, children five and under get free admission. The cave opens daily at 9:00 a.m. year-round, with the exception of Christmas day when they are closed. For more information go to: http://sealioncaves.com/