Character descriptions.

Rae Chang
played by Kelly Hu (1/7―6/5/97)

Dr. Rae Chang first appears in Sunset Beach as a physician for the town hospital. She decides to settle down and buy a house and goes head to head with the local lifeguard Casey Mitchum, who also tries to buy the same house. After reaching an understanding to buy the house together and split the cost, Rae and Casey begin restoring the house and inviting their friends to come and join them. With time, Rae falls for Casey, and in an accidental development lies to her parents about being married to Casey in order to get them off her back for arranging a marriage with another man.

Rae and Casey develop a relationship which is strained when Wei-Lee Young, the man that her parents chose for her, arrives in town with hopes of winning Rae over. Rae finds herself in a dilemma - to follow her heart or listen to her parents. She chooses the former and becomes the black sheep of her family. Eventually, Rae decides to leave Casey and Sunset Beach behind, and decides to get married to Wei-Lee. Rae was the very first contract character to be written off the show.

Sara Cummings
played by Lauren Woodland (4/28―5/8/98)
and Shawn Batten (5/9/98―present)

Always being in her sister Meg's shadow was never easy for Sara. In order to get a new life, Sara becomes an intern for Congressman Blythe in Washington until a sex scandal sends her to seek shelter in Sunset Beach. She is well received by her sister who had been living there for awhile and by her parents, who had just lost their farm in Kansas. Sara lies to her parents about being involved with the Congressman, and she gets a friend in Casey Mitchum, a local lifeguard, who realizes the truth and urges Sara to confess to her parents.
Sara reunites with her friend Melinda Fall from Washington and asks for advice, unaware that Melinda followed Sara in an attempt to tape her confession about sleeping with the Congressman and publishing it to become famous. Thinking that her life is over, Sara attempts to drown in the sea only to get rescued by Casey, who once again advises her to tell the truth. Still, Sara doesn't, and when Melinda published the tape, her lies are discovered. It is then when Sara realizes how much her family loves her by giving her support.
Sara starts a new life and goes on a cruise with Casey, where she is once again being followed by Melinda, who is this time trying to fain information for a book she plans to publish. Sara refuses to believe Melinda when she tries to apologize, but Melinda gets her way by drugging Sara and Casey on the boat and taking intimate pictures of them together. Sadly for Melinda, she loses her cameraman and film when the boat is hit by a tidal wave and turns over. Casey and Sara end up washing ashore a private island where they bond as a couple for the first time before being rescued by Meg and Ben.
Back at home, Casey and Sara finally manage to beat Melinda at her own game when she returns with another threat. Sara then begins on building a relationship with Casey. Her insecurities get the best of her when Tim plants a seed of doubt in Sara's head about Meg and Casey always being close. Realizing that Ben could go back to his ex-wife Maria at any time, Sara starts to meddle in her sister's life until Meg warns her that she won't talk to her unless she stops. Sara and Casey almost break up, but then go back to building a relationship together as Meg and Ben struggle to stay together, especially after Maria's supposed son shows up with a nanny.

Eddie Connors
played by Peter Barton (1/6/97―5/18/98, guest 3/19/99)
The perfect way to describe Eddie Connors would be cunning, charming and dangerous. Eddie works for the Sunset Beach Police Department and has a crush on his fellow co-worker Paula Stevens. After being rejected by his part-time lover Annie Douglas, Eddie decides to win over Paula who is having troubles in her relationship with Ricardo Torres, a detective at that station. Unfortunately for him, Paula goes back to Ricardo, and Eddie decides to exact his revenge on the couple by kidnapping Paula on the night she was supposed to elope with Ricardo. Eddie holds her in an unknown warehouse and decides to cover his tracks by setting loose a serial rapist named Ralph Meyers to finish off the job. His plan, however, ends with Ricardo and himself rescuing Paula from the rapist. Paula returns to Ricardo, and Eddie gives up on Paula.

His secret is never revealed. Eddie then moves on to more important stuff: stealing the worthy Deschanel jewels. He leaves his police work behind and travels away, only to realize that he has been tricked by Annie and that he doesn't have the jewels after all. However, he finds a birth certificate inside which helps him solve the case of the Del Douglas murder. Eddie becomes a private investigator after he is fired from his job, and occasionally works for Gregory Richards. When he is hired for a suspicious job by Ben Evans, Eddie comes to a stunning realization that Ben is actually Derek - Ben's twin brother, and he holds that information over Derek's head in order to collect money from him. Sadly for Eddie, Derek kills him before he can succeed in his plans. Eddie is later shown working in Hell along with Del Douglas and Francesca Vargas, both murdered during the run of the show.

Leo Deschanel
played by David Mathiessen (7/22/98―3/24/99)
Just as Sunset Beach is hit by an earthquake, a young man saves Gregory Richards and A.J. Deschanel from certain death at the construction site. He is revealed to be Leo Deschanel, A.J.'s son and Cole's brother. Leo is surprised when he finds out that he has a half brother and that his father is trying to build a relationship with him. A.J. and Leo quickly work on their problems, and Leo joins the teen gang consisting of Sean, Emily, Amy and Brad. Leo is momentarily thrown in the middle of Amy's plots to win over Sean, but he helps Sean and Emily get back together and doesn't hide his animosity for Amy or Brad. Leo then rarely appears before A.J. decides to send him back to Sweden during the murder investigation of Francesca Vargas.

Derek Evans
played by Clive Robertson (1/16―7/6/98, 11/13/98, )

Derek enters the scene during the New Years' Eve celebration in 1997 when a group of Sunset Beach residents decide to have a party on a remote island away from town. He follows the group of friends to the island and begins murdering them just because he has a vendetta against his brother, who was always praised as the good one. After murdering Mark Wolper, one of Ben's closest friends, Derek learns that the group managed to escape back home, and he follows them back there. His initial plan consisted of getting rid of his brother, but when he learns that Ben built quite a nice life for himself in town, he decides to pose as Ben. He traps Ben in a warehouse, but his plan is compromised by Eddie Connors, a nosy private investigator.

Eddie blackmails Derek until Derek murders him as well. Derek begins his new life as Ben and successfully manages to fool everyone, including Ben's fiancee Meg Cummings and his old friends. Derek's new plan consists of killing Ben so he would take his place for good - a medical examiner convinces Derek that Ben is killed, and Derek sets out to have a romantic date with Meg at a cabin. Ben, meanwhile, escapes from the arms of an obsessive woman that was taking care of him, and rushes to the cabin to save Meg. Derek's world is crushed when Meg beings suspecting and he tries to kill her, but Ben manages to come in time to save Meg. The brothers fight to death, and Derek ends up falling down a ravine to his death, apparently. His body is never found.

Derek's further back story is revealed when Ben explains that his presumed-dead wife Maria presumably slept with Derek unaware that Derek was Ben. Derek explains to Ben that he never slept with Maria before falling down the ravine. It is widely believed that Derek is dead until the following year, when...

Virginia Harrison
played by Dominique Jennings (3/17/97―3/4/99)

Virginia is a person that fights for what she wants, and she knows how to get it; she is a widow raising her son Jimmy, and she relies on the help of Michael Bourne, the man that accidentally shot her husband in a gang war. When she learns of Michael developing a relationship with a reporter named Vanessa Hart, she decides to fight for what she claims as hers, and she infiltrates Michael's life in order to get of her. Claiming that her neighborhood isn't safe because of constant robberies, Virginia gets Michael to give her a place to stay at Surf Central, a house where Michael lives with a number of his other friends. Virginia doesn't hide her feelings for Michael in front of Vanessa and she makes it clear that she wants Vanessa gone. When Michael explains that he sees Virginia only as a friend, Virginia refuses to back down and only becomes more keen on breaking up Michael and Vanessa. She follows Michael and Vanessa one day to the cabin where they arranged a private evening, and sets the cabin on fire in order to prevent them from making love.
After successfully covering her tracks, Virginia goes on a private New Years' Eve celebration with Michael, Vanessa and the rest of the Surf Central gang, where her life is put at a risk when a serial killer is on the loose. Virginia gets a chance to get rid of Vanessa, but instead decides to help her out when they find themselves in harms way. When they return back to Sunset Beach, it appears that Virginia has finally given up on removing Vanessa from her life, but in reality Virginia is only faking a friendship. Virginia realizes that she needs to go to extreme ways to get rid of Vanessa, and when she learns that Vanessa's mother is suffering from a rare genetic disease called Martin's Syndrome, she decides to use that info for her benefit. She goes to see a dark magic expert named Mrs. Moreau, who helps her make a potion that makes Vanessa believe that she has the disease. Vanessa leaves town in order not to hurt Michael, and Virginia finally has her victory - that is, until Michael discovers that Vanessa hasn't really left town.
Virginia accidentally walks in on Vanessa and her doctor named Tyus Robinson in an embrace when they experiment with a drug that could cure Vanessa, and it gives her an idea on how to get rid of Vanessa once and for all. However, when the town is hit by an earthquake, Virginia thinks that her son Jimmy died and she is convinced that God is punishing her for her crimes. She covers her story, however, when she learns that Jimmy is alive. She then goes forward her most evil plot ever - impregnating Vanessa with Tyus's sperm which she steals from a local sperm bank. She does so, and then blackmails Dr. Green into changing Vanessa's due date. Michael and Vanessa are finally broken up when Vanessa lies to Michael about who the father of the baby is, and Virginia berates Vanessa for lying. Her world comes crumbling down when Michael investigates Dr. Green and overhears Virginia threatening him. Virginia confesses her crimes to Michael and Vanessa before being carted off to a mental institution.

Elaine Stevens
played by Leigh Taylor-Young (1/6―12/17/97)
Elaine is an owner of Elaine's Waffle Shop in Sunset Beach, and is a much beloved member of the community, and close friends with Olivia Richards and Bette Katzenkazrahi, the members of the town's elite. She doesn't like her daughter Paula's boyfriend Ricardo and often tries to get Paula to realize that Ricardo is a player. Still, Elaine seems content and peaceful in her life until she is revealed to be the murderer of Del Douglas. In the past, Del stole Elaine's child from her and she decided to have her revenge by shooting him. At the same time, Elaine learns that her son is actually alive, and she begins to build a relationship with him.

The son is Cole Deschanel, a jewel thief. Cole shows up at the last minute of Elaine's trial to save her, and Elaine is released from the charges. She then goes back into the background, while slowly connecting with Cole. Shs is wary of Gabi Martinez, a woman who arrives in Sunset Beach and turns out to be Paula's half sister. After Gabi accuses Ricardo of rape, Elaine takes Ricardo's side and believes he is innocent, while Paula has her doubts. After the trial, Ricardo is cleared of all charges, and Elaine travels out of town with Paula, never to be seen again in town, but only occasionally mentioned by her son Cole.
Paula Stevens
played by Laura Harring (1/6―12/17/97)
Paula is a police officer working at the Sunset Beach Police Department and involved in a relationship with Ricardo Torres, a man who had just been promoted to detective. She tries to hide her jealousy when she begins thinking that he is a player, but she learns soon that Ricardo is committed to her. Ricardo asks Paula to elope with him, but on that same night Paula is kidnapped by Eddie Connors, a fellow employee who has a crush on her, but she never returned any feelings. Paula is held up in a warehouse and raped by a serial rapist before being rescued from certain death by Ricardo and Eddie.

The rapist is caught, and Paula begins recovering from the events, unaware that her boyfriend had almost spent the night with Gabi Martinez, a new girl in town. Paula is shocked when Gabi turns out to be her half sister, and is wary of anything Gabi has to say. However, she eventually decides to trust Gabi and they begin forming a bond. Ricardo and Paula overcome the difficulties after the rape, but Gabi's presence ruins the romance for Ricardo. Paula is once again shocked when Gabi suddenly accuses Ricardo of rape, and she takes her sister's side over Ricardo's. When Gabi turns out to be traumatized by an event from her childhood, Paula realizes that Ricardo was innocent all along. Paula packs her bags and leaves town after that.

Tiffany Thorne
played by Adrienne Frantz (1/6―5/15/97)
and Jennifer Banko-Stewart (5/20―8/29/97)

Tiffany is a teenage runaway, always fighting for a place to stay or something to eat in order to survive. She first appears in town running away from the lifeguards after being caught sleeping on the beach, and misguided as she was, she decides to steal a backpack from a girl on the beach, Meg Cummings. Tiffany goes through her things and learns about Meg's love story with a guy named S.B., whom she recognizes as the town's widower and business owner Ben Evans. She uses the information to her benefit to infiltrate Ben's life, but her world is soon turned upside down when Ben refuses to have anything to do with her.

Tiffany seeks comfort in the arms of her loyal friend Mark Wolper, unaware that Mark is harboring feelings for her, and instead she falls for Sean Richards, a son of another local business owner, Gregory Richards. This time, Tiffany has to battle for her relationship with Sean when Gregory desperately tries to separate the two, feeling that Tiffany isn't worthy of his son. Tiffany and Sean manage to overcome the involvement of Gregory and his wife Olivia, but ultimately Olivia forces Tiffany to leave town with a load of cash.

Francesca Vargas
played by Lisa Guerrero Coles (7/16/98―4/26/99, voice-over 5/13―6/8/99)

While attending a cruise with her husband Phillip Vargas, Francesca is shocked when she finds out that her ex-lover Cole Deschanel is there with his wife Caitlin. Francesca still has feelings for Cole, and it is something that her husband has always been aware of. Phillip tests Francesca and sets out to kill Cole, but Francesca fights to save Cole's life. The ship ends up turning over due to a tidal wave caused by an earthquake, and Francesca battles for her life with the rest of the survivors. When her husband is killed, Francesca temporarily moves to Sunset Beach. She promises that she won't get involved in Cole's life, and she sets out to correct some of her past mistakes - including a job that she did years ago where she stole expensive jewels from a little town called Rosario. Francesca's job of returning those jewels to the owners is, however, very difficult because the jewels are cursed, and she, along with some of her friends, manages to save the day in the nick of time by returning those jewels back.

Having survived near death once again, Francesca is now even more determined to get Cole back to herself. She begins making enemies with several residents in town - Olivia Blake hates her when she tries to destroy Caitlin and Cole's marriage, and when she tries to separate Olivia and A.J. by Gregory's orders; Cole hates her for what she did to his marriage after Francesca reveals to Caitlin that Cole had an affair with Olivia; Caitlin hates her for revealing the truth and constantly trying to end her marriage; and she even makes enemies with the local priest Antonio Torres after she accidentally tapes Antonio having sex with his brother's girlfriend Gabi Martinez.

Realizing that she has nothing else to do, Francesca blackmails Gregory into giving her a lot of money for the services she provided, and even blackmails Antonio and Gabi into stealing money so she wouldn't tell Ricardo the truth. She steals Trey from the Richards household when Cole rips into her for revealing the truth, but when she returns to hotel room someone enters with a gun and shoots her. Francesca is accidentally stuffed inside a cake when she gets mixed up for a prostitute, and she falls out of the cake in front of half the town. She's taken to the hospital where she dies, and is sent to Hell where she meets Del and Eddie, other murdered residents of the town. Although now dead, Francesca continues haunting the people that hated her. Olivia is stunned when "Francesca" begins calling her and requesting that they meet, and both Gregory and A.J. are shocked that Francesca is supposedly alive. It is revealed that Annie and Cole had been working together, with Annie posing as Francesca to catch Olivia as Francesca's killer. Annie is shocked when Gregory turns out to be Francesca's killer.

Mark Wolper
played by Nick Stabile (1/6/97―1/20/98)
Had it not have been for Ben Evans, Mark Wolper probably never would have graced the screens of Sunset Beach. Saved as a teenager by the local business owner Evans, Mark begins developing a life for himself in town and quickly becomes friends with several people when he moves into Surf Central, a house that Casey Mitchum and Rae Chang buy. There, Mark develops a crush on Meg Cummings, a girl that had just arrived there from Kansas. While helping her get her life together, Mark tries to get something going with her but nothing happens because Meg harbors only friendly feelings for him. Mark, meanwhile, helps out another teenage runaway, Tiffany Thorne, to get her life together even though she's a tough one to handle. He develops a crush on her as well, but she only has eyes for Sean Richards, with whom Mark doesn't get along with until Sean accidentally ends up hurt and Mark decides to back away.

Mark decides to drop his pursuit of Tiffany and instead focuses on his music career as a DJ. He then falls for Gabi Martinez, a troublesome woman who tries to destroy her sisters' life. Unaware of Gabi's intentions, Mark sees her as a victim until he realizes what she had been doing all along. Still, Mark forgives Gabi, but they never develop anything beyond a friendship. For the New Years' Eve celebration, Mark decides to attend a party on Ben's private island, where he falls victim to a serial killer whom he believes to be Ben, unaware that it is his twin brother.