Beachcombing is a popular activity for those who enjoy spending time at the seashore while searching for treasures that the ocean coastline reveals. A variety of items can be found on Oregon’s beaches - sea glass, pieces of driftwoods, Japanese glass floats, shells including popular sand dollars, and other fossilized marine creatures.
However, the ocean beaches of Oregon are famous and extremely popular for beach-tumbled agate, jasper, and petrified wood.
Due to beaches being accessible to the public at all times, beachcombers can keep their treasures with some exceptions. Always check the Rules and Regulations before you go to the beach.
The winter months are a good time to hunt for agates. Generally, between November and March, sometimes April. During the summer, agate deposits are covered by sand. The winter storms help to remove the top sandy layers revealing the treasure beneath. Be on the lookout for loose gravel atop sand. No real technique and no equipment, though a gem scoop and geology pick can be helpful. All you need is a fun spirit and some water resistant warm clothing.
Along the Oregon Coast, there are multiple excellent spots for agate, jasper, and marine fossils beachcombing.
The best time: November – April, after big storms and during outgoing high tide at low tide.
How to Spot Agate on the Beach
Due to agate and jasper can be found almost everywhere along the 300-mile Oregon’s Coast shoreline, beachcombing for these colorful gemstones is very popular in Oregon. Mineral and fossils are lying on the surfaces of beaches and in gravels of the riverbanks or creeks that enter into the Pacific Ocean, so no hard work is needed to get them.
Pick a rocky beach. Most of the time the gemstones are covered by sand but after strong storms especially winter storms the rock beds are exposed. Often you can find beautiful agates or jaspers on gravel beds, near ledges, and stream gravels. The main characteristics of agate - transparency, color, and banding patterns will be helpful for finding and identification. When the waters have freshly preceded, the sunlight will cause agates to sparkle making them easier to spot. Also, it is easier to see a brightly colored agate or jasper when it is wet.
Restriction: No more than 1 gallon per day and 3 gallons per year for collecting agates on the beaches.
Beachcombing on the North Oregon Coast
A wide variety of agates, jaspers, petrified wood, and fossilized agate are found on the North Oregon Coast. The best places for beachcombing are located north of Pacific City - Netarts, Oceanside, Rockaway Beach, and Manzanita; north of the Cape Falcon and the area extending between Arch Cape and Cannon Beach which also includes the Arcadia and the Hug Point.
Beachcombing on the Central Oregon Coast
The Central Oregon Coast provides great opportunities to find high-quality agates including carnelian, black-blue, enhydro, moss and sagenitic, jaspers, petrified wood, and fossilized agates. The beaches stretching from the Road's End to Siletz Bay in Lincoln City, the coastline near Newport, Yachats and Florence are considered to be the most productive areas for collecting gem quality minerals.
Over 7.5-mile beaches of Lincoln City produce agates and multicolored jaspers. The 5-mile stretch of Moolack Beach from Otter Rock to Yaquina Head, roughly 3 miles north of Newport, is good for agate, carnelian, jasper, petrified wood, and fossils hunting. Marine fossils such as shells and the bones of sea lions and whales have been found near Beverly Beach, Newport. High-value bloodstones, carnelian, moss, and sagenitic agates containing needle-like inclusions have been found south of Yachats. Check the areas along the mouths of creeks entering to the ocean - Big, Bob's, China, Cummins, Tenmile, and Squaw.
Beachcombing on the South Oregon Coast
Generally, the South Oregon Coast has some area producing a wide variety of fine agates and jaspers, petrified wood, fossils, serpentine, and jade. There are wonderful sites including parks near Coos Bay and Bandon, Port Orford, Gold Beach, and Brookings.
- Before you go for beachcombing, check tides
- Never turn your back to the ocean, the ocean conditions can change quickly
- Watch for sneaker waves
- Have your beach access available
- Avoid logs and debris
- Avoid slick rocks and stay away from cliff edges.
Attention Fellow Beachgoers
Unfortunately, our beautiful Pacific Northwest 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 generations to come!
Oregon Rockhounding Map
The Oregon Rockhounding Map provides information about some of the many rockhounding sites of the state of Oregon. Information is subject to change at any time, and the Oregon Discovery team cannot guarantee that is either current or correct. Be aware that there are some mine claims and private lands near the public collecting areas. Determining the land status and minerals' collection rules at the site is your responsibility.
Currently, this map is incomplete but new rockhounding sites and related details will be added in the future.
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