Big Lagoon bar (a.k.a. Big Lagoon spit) is a sand bar separating the Pacific Ocean from Big Lagoon.  It is about 3 miles long and 500 to 700 feet wide.  The lagoon's watershed is sufficient that it overfills the lagoon during the rainy season, and it eventually breaches the bar at the northern end.  Water rushes out, the lagoon partially empties, and the water level drops several feet.  The ocean rebuilds the bar and the cycle repeats.  There are typically several breaches each year, depending upon rainfall.

[Photo of the ocean side of Big Lagoon bar]

The photo above shows the ocean side of the bar.  The beach and wave-front slope are steep.  Surf roars, and the air fills with salt spray.  Agates abound on the pebbly beach. However, never turn your back on the ocean because large waves come unexpectedly, the undertow is treacherous, and the water is cold all year.

[Photo of the lagoon side of Big Lagoon bar]

The next photo shows the quieter, warmer side of the bar as it slopes gently toward Big Lagoon.  The sand is partially covered by dune-mat plants.  We are well above the ocean waves, yet the logs you see were delivered by big waves during winter storms.

[Photo of quiet beach along the lagoon side of the bar]

The dune mat gives way to open sand below the level that Big Lagoon sometimes rises.  This makes for a beautiful, sandy beach that is very popular.  Shallow water along the lagoon margin is also ideal habitat for wading birds.

Photos by Jim Popenoe