• Tunnel Beach is accessed via a man-made tunnel through a huge basalt cliff of Maxwell Point
• A hidden beach at the smallest wilderness area in America
Tunnel Beach near the town of Oceanside is a hidden gem tucked away among the rocky cliffs and multiple sea stacks. This sand and cobble beach is a 300-yard long shoreline sitting south of the basalt headland of Maxwell Point between Oceanside Beach and Lost Boy Beach.
The Oceanside Beach State Recreational Site has parking with a pathway that will take you to Oceanside Beach. Take a walk on this gorgeous sandy beach and enjoy the view of the mighty Pacific Ocean with the gorgeous Three Arch Rocks Refuge, refreshing ocean breeze, and coastline wildlife.
Walk to the north end of Oceanside Beach to see the unique feature of this spot, a man-made tunnel carved through the base of Maxwell Point leading to a scenic coastline. This is an easy 0.8-mile round trip from the parking lot which would take you to a more rugged and secluded spot compared to the main beach.
The 90 feet long tunnel was built in 1926 by the Rosenberg family, who owned a resort at Oceanside, to let guests access more of the coast shore. The tunnel construction starts with a round concrete bunker-like corridor. As you move through the tunnel, the concrete floor and walls are replaced with rocky walls and a rugged floor with huge boulders and driftwoods that were brought by huge waves and king tides into the tunnel. Though some light is coming through and allowing you to see some part of the underground trail, a regular flashlight or a smartphone flashlight can be very helpful.
Once you see the ocean and come through the oval portal, you will find yourself on the romantic secluded beach, surrounded by huge cliffs and lined with numerous sea stacks. During super low tide, you can reach Tunnel Beach just by walking around Maxwell Point.
Lost Boy Beach and Short Beach are located north of Tunnel Beach. A legend says that Lost Boy Beach was named after a boy who disappeared in this area over hundred years ago. This beach is a pretty secluded 1,000-foot cove with no direct road or trail access. The Lost Boy Beach access from Tunnel Beach or Short Beach is unsafe and not recommended. Those who decide to explore this area should use common sense, so they will not get trapped by the incoming tide. Super low tides happen rarely on the Oregon Coast. Exploring Lost Boy Beach can only be done at extremely low tides at least minus 2 feet which only happens a few times a year and lasts for a short period of time.
Oceanside and Tunnel Beaches are known for their scenic interdial area. During low tide, visitors can explore the beautiful marine world including colonies of mussels, anemones, and sea stars.
The Three Arch Rocks area consisting of numerous sea stacks, islands, and rocks lying half a mile offshore is designated as National Wildlife Refuge by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907. The smallest wilderness area in the United States supports breeding seabirds including tufted puffins, cormorants, and common murres. The refuge is the only pupping area of the North Coast for Steller Sea Lions. The Three Arch Rocks Wilderness is closed to public access.
Tunnel Beach is popular among rock collectors for opportunities to find very interesting materials. During winter months, waves and king tides remove a top layer of sand revealing coastal treasures underneath. The best time to find the best materials is during outgoing tide at low tide. Most commonly you will find clear agates, green, blue and yellow jaspers, zeolites, and marine fossils.
Cautions: Beware of changing tides, rip currents, driftwoods, sneaker waves and never turn your back to the ocean.
Tunnel Beach | General Description
Managed: Oregon State Park
Activities: Rockhounding, hiking, fishing, and wildlife watching
Accommodations: Lodging in Oceanside and Tillamook
Distance from the parking: 0.4 miles
Road access: Any vehicles
Day-use fees: None
Popularity: Moderate to high
Tunnel Beach is located:
- 9 miles west of Tillamook
- 81 miles west of Portland.
- 82 miles northwest of Salem.
Attention Fellow Beachgoers
Unfortunately, our beautiful Pacific North West beaches are stained with trash, especially plastic. We, at Oregon Discovery, as well as other unaffiliated groups of nature lovers made a commitment to do our part in keeping our beaches clean, but we need your help too!
Every time you go out to enjoy nature at your favorite spot, please bring a garbage bag or two and help us pick up garbage. Even picking up a little bit here and there will make a huge difference long term.
Please, help us save our beautiful nature for the generations to come!
From US 101 in Tillamook,
- Take OR 31 west (3d Street) and head west 8.8 miles to Cape Meares Loop
- Bear left onto Netarts Oceanside Highway and continue 0.2 miles to the parking area entrance on the left.