Sea Lion Caves earned its name honestly. It is the largest sea cave in the world and is filled with hundreds of charismatic sea creatures along with scores of sea birds and plenty of great ocean views. Once you step into the cave, you’ll hear a sound like never before: a combination of barking sea lions, singing birds, and crashing waves.
Touted as the biggest sea cave on earth, it is is as tall as a 12-story building and as long as football field. The history of the cave, formed out of basalt rock, stretches back for millions of years. Its more recent history as a tourist attraction begins in 1880 when William Cox found the marvel. The tourists starting coming in 1932 when people started motoring up the coast for Oregon vacations. In the years since, special care has been taken to preserve Sea Lion Caves and to make it comfortable for the visitors and the animals alike.
As soon as you arrive at Sea Lion Caves Oregon, you’ll be greeted by a large statue of a group of sea lions called “The Family.” The bronze statue was installed in 1982 in recognition of the 50th anniversary of Sea Lion Caves. You’ll want to bring your camera along with you. If you frame the shot just right, you’ll get the Heceta Head Lighthouse in the background along with some crashing waves. This is a great place for a family photo for the scrapbook or your your online profile.
It’s easy to find Sea Lion Caves Oregon. The site is right off Highway 1, the famed route that traces up the Pacific Coast from California into Washington. The caves are 11 miles to the north of Florence and about 40 miles to the south of Newport, both exciting beach towns with plenty of cool places to shop, stay, and stroll the beach. Tours begin daily at 8:30 a.m. Regardless of the weather and continue into the dinner hour. This is with the exception of Christmas and Thanksgiving, the only days when they’re closed. Depending on the season, you may have to walk to different parts of the cave to see the sea lions. They hang out inside during the fall and winter and head outside to the rocky outcrops in the spring and summer.
It does take a little walking to see everything. There are some stairs as well as some uphill and downhill walking at a somewhat steep grade. If you want somebody along for the walk, you can pay a bit extra for a guided tour when you purchase your tickets. A naturalist will join you and explain the unique natural history and the world of the sea lions. They might even point out a passing killer whale just off the coast. It takes about an hour, and this is one of those things to do that will be most interesting to older kids and adults.
Kids need to be at least four to take the tour. Anyone younger can visit sea lion caves Oregon for free for a self guided tour with their parents. Admission is also discounted seniors and kids 8 to 12. Parking is free, which will make the driver on your vacation happy. After your tour, you can head to Newport or Florence to grab some dinner and find a comfortable place to stay for the night.