Oregon Sea Lion Caves

The Oregon Coast’s famed sea lion caves (91560 Hwy. 101 N., Florence) can be found eleven miles north of Florence, Oregon on scenic Highway 101. A great pit stop for families traveling this windy, windswept stretch of coastline, the caves offer not only a chance to get out of the car, get some sea air, and explore, but also to experience a true rarity: the world’s largest sea lion cave.

sea lion caves

Home to sea lions as well as sea birds, visitors descend to the cave (which opens up to the Pacific at the base of a bluff) by elevator, then overlook the sea lions in their natural habitat. In spring and summer, you’ll find the sea lions on the rocky ledges just outside the cave (their rookery while breeding). During the fall and winter, they are usually inside their cave.

If you have anyone sensitive to smells, give them fair warning that the cave has a very strong odor of sea, fish, and sea lion. It’s not exactly pleasant, but it bothers some more than others! And there is some physical effort required (though not strenuous). in order to make the trip, you must go up and down stairs and climb about 400 yards of paved trail. You then reach the elevator that takes you down to the cave. There are also 63 steps in the cave in order to access a lighthouse viewpoint. Visitors can go all the way down to the cave, or stop and turn back at any point.

Distance from the interstate: Right off Highway 101.

Date last visited: July 2009

Admission fee: Adults are $12, kids 3-12 are $8. Under 3s are free. Note: we thought the admission price was a little steep for what you get; after all, for our family of five, we paid over $40, which was pretty high for a spur-of-the-moment stop. However, if you plan ahead, we’ve found that knowing what you’ll be paying takes some of the sting out of it. In addition to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, which we highly recommend, the sea lion caves are one of the best exhibits out there.

Hours: Open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas day. Hours are 9 am to 5 pm.

Food services: There is a gift shop attached to the attraction which has quite a large selection of snacks, ice cream, and the like. No actual meal service is offered, however.

Website: http://sealioncaves.com/home/

Directions: From Florence, Oregon, drive eleven miles north on Highway 101.