One man’s flotsam is another man’s find, and it seems that the farther away you live from the ocean, the more interesting and exciting the everyday stuff from the tides seem to you.
Combing the beach in Oregon is a very different adventure from many beaches around the globe, and that’s mostly because of the driftwood that makes its way down Oregon rivers to the sea. Dramatic new shapes wash in almost daily, and a favorite sandy cove can look entirely different from one day to the next, especially in stormy weather. Agates are another local treasure, a colorful stone that’s considered a real prize; December through April is the best time to spot them, as well as jasper, fossils and petrified wood.
Really exciting is finding a Japanese glass float that’s come in on the Kuroshio current, traveling thousands of miles, sometimes over many years. Savvy combers head out in the early morning in March after a storm to search for these green glass bulbs. (If you’re not an early riser, you can also find them for sale in Gold Beach gift shops and just fib to your friends back home.)
If you prefer treasures of the living kind, the best tidepool areas include Agate Beach and Rocky Point North of Town, and Myers Creek, and Lone Ranch Wayside to the South. For low tide periods, check the paper or pick up a free guide at the Visitor Center. Of course, tidepool critters are protected, so as a general rule, photos are the only way you can take them home.
Tidepooling, beachcombing or just strolling, be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye on the water. Oregon has what’re called sneaker waves; one can rise suddenly and powerfully from an otherwise regular set, knocking down and carrying out even strong swimmers. With children especially, time your visits during low tide, and know when it’s coming in.