The Complete Guide to Beachcombing in the Pacific Northwest

Post Summary: Guide to Beachcombing in the Pacific Northwest

From geocaching to metal detectors, collectors and curious minds alike will fall in love with the diversity of Pacific Northwest beaches!

If you love looking for little treasures, you need to try beachcombing.

Beachcoming is an experience that can be brand new every time you head to the beach!

Gold Beach on the Southern Oregon Coast

Because of the ever-changing conditions of the ocean, beaches change yearly, weekly, hourly…even by the minute!

Berty and I have been coming to the Pacific Coast for years, and we’ve learned a thing or two about the best beachcombing locations and best collection practices.

In this post, we’re sharing our favorite tips, guidelines, and suggestions to plan your next curious adventure!

Emily Mandagie at Mackenzie Beach

What is beachcombing?

The beachcombing definition, according to Cambridge Dictionary, is “the activity of walking along beaches looking for objects of value or interest”

Basically, it’s the art of finding cool treasures on the beach!

Generally, you’ll find people scanning the shoreline, possibly with a bucket in hand to pick up anything of interest.

It’s a great activity to do with the whole family, because everyone can participate by running around the beach!

Beachcombing Tools

What kind of tools should you bring to find these ocean treasures?

Here are some tried and true products we think will help elevate your adventure:

Handle Sand Scooper

Sand Scoop for Metal Detecting - Beachcombing

This sand scooper with a handle is great for beachcombers who don’t mind getting down on their hands and knees to scoop up chunks of sand.

Long-Handled Sand Scoop

Long Handled Sand Dipper - Beachcombing Tools

For those who prefer walking and scooping (as opposed to bending over), using a long-handled sand scoop will allow you to sift smaller items in finer sand, while still standing.

Mesh Bags

You’ll need a bag to store all of your items! Pick a mesh one to allow everything to air dry as you walk. Here is a shoulder bag option, a mesh fanny pack, and large pocket mesh bags.

Sand Rake

Sand Rake For Beachcombing

These are great for digging into sand piles, scooping, and sifting.

This version is easily collapsible for easy packing, and can withstand sun, sand, and saltwater exposure.

Beachcombing on Mackenzie Beach

How To Go Beachcombing in the Pacific Northwest

PNW beachcoming is unlike any other experience in the world!

The things found beachcombing on PNW shores include everything from unique seashells, sea glass from ships, and unique treasures all the way from Asia!

Before heading out on your adventure, here is a handy beachcombing guide to follow for safe and ethical practices.

Emily Mandagie Beachcombing on the Washington Coast

1. Check tide charts before heading out.

The best time for beachcoming is when the tide is receding, ideally after high tide.

This will expose the most treasures! Low tide happens twice a day and it’s not always consistent, so always double check your beach’s tide times before heading out.

Bonus points if you go beachcombing during a negative tide. When looking at a tide chart, whenever the number is below zero, it’s a negative tide! That means is receded back WAY more than usual!

2. Double check beachcoming is permitted

Beachcoming on the Washington Coast

If no signs are present forbidding it, it’s okay to take a handful of treasures. Most beaches allow that.

However, there are some Pacific Coast beaches that strictly prohibit collecting.

Marine gardens and marine sanctuaries in particular forbid beachcombing. Some beaches just simply restrict certain rocks or marine life. Always double check signs in the parking lot!

3. Bring a collection vessel.

From buckets to bags to containers, bring something to store your treasures.

We mentioned a few beachcombing tools at the top of this blog post, so scroll up to read out suggestions!

Beachcombing Tips: If you’re feeling a little extra, bring a sharpie to label what you bring home, and when and where you found it too!

4. Collect responsibly

Use the foragers rule of thumb. Take only 10% of the goodies you find. Don’t clean up the beach with everything you discover!

Simply take home your favorites and leave plenty for others to discover after you.

Best Places For Beachcombing in Oregon

Notice: In the State of Oregon, each person is allowed to collect up to 1 gallon of small stones, shells and other non-living items for personal use per day, up to no more than 3 gallons per year.

The Northern Oregon Coast provides some of the best spots for beacombing and collecting treasures.

Big spans of shoreline provide great opportunities to walk up and down the shore!

Some popular places for Beachcombing in Oregon include:

  • Netarts
  • Oceanside
  • Rockaway Beach
  • Between Arch Cape and Cannon Beach (includes Arcadia and Hug Point)
  • Driftwood Beach State Recreation Site

Afterward, check out some of these epic Oregon Coast towns for great food, shopping, and hotels to stay longer!

Read More: The Ultimate Oregon Coast Road Trip Itinerary (5 days to 2 weeks!)

Emily Mandagie and Alina beachcombing on Ruby Beach in Washington state

Best Places to Beachcombing in Washington

Curious about where to go beachcombing in Washington State? Lucky for you, it’s not just limited to the Pacific Coast!

Washington has the Puget Sound, with miles and miles of shoreline that are among calmer waters on the sound.

Some top spots for beachcoming in Washington include:

  • Rialto Beach (Olympic Peninsula)
  • Kalaloch Beach (Olympic Peninsula)
  • Port Townsend
  • Bottle Beach State Park (Grays Harbor)
  • Damon Point State Park (Grays Harbor)
  • Salt Creek Recreation Area (Tongue Point Tides)

Read More: 30+ Incredible Things To Do In Washington State, 10 Gorgeous Beaches in Washington State

tide pools in Cape Kiwanda

Popular things to collect when beachcoming

Curious about what beachcombing finds you can expect?

Here are some really common items to collect in the Pacific Northwest:

  • Agates
  • Sea Glass
  • Fossils
  • Petrified Wood
  • Seashells
  • Message in a bottle? Who knows!

What are some other tips for beachcombing in the Pacific Northwest? Share them in the comments!


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