Carl Washburne State Park

Welcome to the fun world of beachcombing on the Oregon Coast, where the waves serenade, and the sands hold secrets! The definition of beachcombing is the activity of searching the beach for natural and man-made objects. Let us guide you through all the cool stuff you can find and (may be take home) on your coastal adventure!

Oregon Coast 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, driftwood, Japanese glass floats, shells, including popular sand dollars, and other fossilized marine creatures.

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 best part is those treasures are free! (Minus the cost of gas and calories expended on picking them up). Here are some of the unique finds to look out for.

Collecting Rocks and Minerals - Oregon Coast Rockhounding

The ocean beaches of Oregon are famous and extremely popular for beach-tumbled agate, jasper, and petrified wood.

The winter months are a good time to hunt for gemstones. Generally, between November and March, sometimes April. During the summer, most agate deposits are covered by sand. The winter storms help to remove the top sandy layers revealing the treasure beneath. Any beach with gravels is likely to have agatized treasures. 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.

Tunnel Beach Oregon Coast
Tunnel Beach Treasures
Strawberry Hill Agates - Oregon Coast
Strawberry Hill Agates
Carl Washburne Agate Hunting
Carl Washburne Agate
McVay Rock Beach Agates - Oregon Coast Agate Hunting
McVay Rock Beach Agates

Numerous coastal locations offer opportunities to hunt for agate and jasper, but certain beaches are truly a haven for rock collectors.

Short Beach and Tunnel Beach between Cape Meares and Maxwell Point at Oceanside are the best on North Oregon Coast.

The best beaches on the Central Oregon Coast for rock collecting are found south from Yachats such as Neptune Beach, Strawberry Hill Wayside, Bob Creek Beach, Stonefield Beach, Big Creek Beach, and Carl Washburne State Park.

South Oregon Coast beaches at Bandon, Gold Beach, Port Orford, and Brookings provides great opportunities to find high-quality gemstones. The closer you get to the California border the higher your chance to find a rare nephrite jade. All southern coastline are excellent for agate hunting especially where the coastal rivers such as Rogue River, Six River, Hunter Creek, Pistol River, or Chetco River entering the ocean. The beaches like Garrison Beach, Bailey Beach, South Beach, Arriya's Beach at the mouth of Pistol River, and McVay Rock Park are highly productive rock collecting areas year-round.

Sea Glass

Sea glass, often referred to as 'mermaid tears,' is a fascinating product of nature's artwork and human history. These smooth, frosted gems, once ordinary glass trash — bottles, jars, lenses, and even shipwreck remnants — undergo a remarkable transformation through years of tumbling in the ocean's waves, sand, and salt. Each piece of the sea glass carries a secret story — a moment of the past. Its origins can be traced back to old shipwrecks, coastal communities, and seaside factories. This unique sea treasure comes in a kaleidoscope of hues, from translucent whites to deep blues, greens, and reds.

Sea glass can be found on the shores of beaches near areas where there has been higher human activity or sea traffic.

Sea glass

Sand Dollars

A unique coastal treasure, the eccentric sand dollar is a flattened species of sea urchin, typically found residing on sandy sea floors and forming dense groups. Sand dollars come in a range of colors, spanning from shades of white or gray to brown to purple or deep black. Recently died sand dollars, retaining their original color and some even maintaining their outer coat, are less desirable for collectors. This is due to the fact that their flesh will quickly develop a rancid odor. Therefore, collectors are advised to seek out white sand dollar shells that that are free of any remaining flesh.

Most shells you can find are damaged by surf but occasionally, you can find a whole piece! It makes the discovery of undamaged sand dollars cherished treasures. Those treasures will definitely stand out for their pale, sun-bleached discs evoking images of pirate doubloons.

Sand dollars can be found all along the Oregon coastline, but there are certain beaches that offer better chances of discovering these beautiful shells. Among the top locations for sand dollar hunting, Seaside Beach at the mouth of the Necanicum River stands out as one of the best options. Additionally, the coastline along Nestucca River, including Kiwanda Beach, Bob Straub State Park, and Waconda Beach near Pacific City, offers excellent opportunities. Other promising beaches include those south of Newport, such as Moolack Beach and Seal Rock Beach, as well as the sandy shores in Florence, North Bend, and Bandon.

Glass Floats

Glass artists handcraft exquisite orbs for yearly events held at Lincoln City and Gold Beach.

Finders Keepers Glass FloatsLincoln City hosts the Finders Keepers Glass Floats Event from mid-October to Memorial Day. Nearly 3,000 glass floats are hidden along seven miles of the public city's beaches. If you find a float, you can receive a certificate of authenticity for it. Some floats are eligible for a special prize. 300 Antique Japanese floats are placed on the beach during Antique Week. Red heart-shaped glass pieces are hidden on the beach during Valentine's Day.

Kissing Rock at Gold Beach is part of an annual festival similar to the one in Lincoln City. The three miles of South Beach become a hunting ground for beautiful glass floats from the beginning of February to the end of April.

Those handcrafted treasures are hidden in grass or among driftwood above the surf line. You are only allowed to take one with you. If your orb is tagged, check with the South Beach Visitor's Center for a chance to win a prize.

Metal Detecting

Top-Rated Beachcombing GearBeachcombing with a metal detector along the Oregon Coast can unearth (or it even the word?) items with a unique story.

You might find modern (to pay for your metal detector) or vintage coins, perhaps something lost by an oceanside wanderer 100 years ago.

There's a fair shot at finding jewelry—rings, earrings, and even the necklace, lost by a modern or past beachgoer.

You can often encounter old fishing weights and boat fittings as a remnant of Oregon's rich maritime culture, lost to time and tides. Or something brought by the waters from the other place.

And if the metal detector beeps with a particularly enthusiastic tone, it could very well be historical relics like pieces from shipwrecks or artifacts left by early explorers or indigenous tribes.

Each find, from the mundane pull-tab to the silver dollar, is a page in the history of humanity in the Pacific. So, keep swinging that detector because you never know when the next beep might be your ticket to an untold story.

Boring Legal Stuff

Using a metal detector is legal without a permit in many spots on the ocean shore and at state parks. However, it is always a good idea to double-check the legalities of your specific area of choice. I don't want Officer Friendly to fine you.

Check the current rules and regulations on the Oregon State Parks website.

Tidepool Watching

Oregon Coast TidepoolsWhile collecting ocean treasures, take a moment to enjoy the intricate ecosystems within the natural aquariums - tide pools. Rocky shorelines represent exceptional repositories of intertidal creatures. The exploration of tidepools is a popular and educational pastime.

While you can't keep the living creatures of the ocean (please, don't disturb the fragile ecosystem!), you can view the beauty of their shapes and colors!

You can see a variety of marine flora and fauna, including starfish, anemones, urchins, crabs, and more.


Best Times To Beachcomb

Secret Beach - Oregon Coast BeachcombingThe best times for beachcombing on the Oregon coast revolve around the seasonal shifts and tidal patterns that wash ashore various oceanic gifts and remove the mass of sand and gravel, revealing the previously hidden treasure.

Winter and early spring after stormy weather are the best times since the powerful waves make hidden treasures surface.

Low tides, especially extreme low tides that occur a few times a year, reveal the hidden beach areas. Check the tide tables for those events.

Early morning is also an ideal time to find treasure since items freshly deposited overnight are undisturbed.

Be aware of various coastal dangers more frequent during these times, including sneaker waves.

For more effective and fun beachcombing, check my guide on the best tools to pack with you.

Oregon Coast Beaches & Landmarks

North Coast

Cannon Beach CityThe breathtaking North Oregon Coast is about 100 miles long extending from the mouth of the Columbia River in Astoria to the Pacific City. Despite such a relatively short stretch of the coast, the variety of landscapes here is truly remarkable. You can see massive dunes, dense old-growth forests, expansive sandy beaches, towering sea stacks, broad gravel bars, and weathered basalt cliffs.


Central Coast

Otter Rock SurfingStretching for about 100 miles from Lincoln City to Florence and Winchester Bay, the Central Oregon Coast beaches combine incredibly diverse scenery and landscapes. 2rom basalt outcropping, tree-top cliffs, and colossal sea stacks to flat sand areas, extensive dunes, and broad gravel bars -- you can see them all here in Oregon!


South Coast

Otter Point & Agate Beach (Otter Point State Recreation Site)The beaches of the South Oregon Coast stretch from North Bend and Coos Bay all the way down to the California border. The South Oregon Coast is an amazing destination, full of natural beauty, breathtaking shorelines, picturesque hiking trails, and a variety of places to visit that will, no doubt, make your trip memorable.


Safety Tips

  • 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.

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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!

Whenever you go out to enjoy nature at your favorite spot, please bring a trash bag or two and help us pick up garbage. Even picking up a little bit here and there will make a huge long-term difference.

Please help us save our beautiful nature for generations to come!


  1. Awesome! Thanks for the great outline! Taking my kids on a hunt after the next storm!

  2. Yes, we do have coastal jade. I’m on the southern oregon coast. I found a piece of jade last week, on the beach. I have a picture that’s backlit and it’s magnificent.

  3. We absolutely *DO* have nephrite pieces on the southern Oregon beaches. Especially around the mouth of the Rogue. What’s really surprising is that there aren’t apparently economic-sized deposits in the Klamath mountains of Oregon — surprising, because the geology is quite favorable.

    Also, after collecting every single little agate-type stone you can find — even the tiny ones, *especially* the tiny ones — make sure to have a real close look at all of them before you toss any back on the beach. Save any with evident crystal faces for further examination, because they just, might, *possibly* be diamonds (yes, there are diamond deposits in the Klamath mountains — somewhere, possibly lamprophyre intrusions, or just weathering out of the upper-mantle section of ophiolites. These are subduction zone diamonds, which aren’t super well understood).

    The southern Oregon beaches also have very fine gold and platinum group deposits in the black sands.

  4. So I recently visited Oregon’s beaches between Bandon and Florence . Among the petrified wood , agates , fossils and shells was a plain white flat rock . Upon closer inspection at home I noticed it had glassy orange veins . I cut back the edges and WOW ! A beautiful piece of amber hidden inside . There’s a few identical pictures of rough amber online to reference. My dilemma is that I can’t find anything about Amber found in Oregon , and are the photos I’m comparing to actually another stone ?

    1. So its either Quartz, Agate or Chalcedony, and the “amber” inside is Carnelian. They can range in color from yellow, orange, to red. They can dominate the whole mineral, so its glowing or have swirls inside or a combination of both.

      Very hard to tell without seeing a picture, but in my experience that sounds like what you have there. Good find!

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