Winter storms and low tides on the Oregon Coast unveil hidden treasures like beautiful agates and decaying shipwrecks. In the winter, beach safety is more important than ever. Check the tide and surf tables, and keep a close eye on the water as you head out treasure hunting.
The storm-scoured beaches near Yachats are a paradise for agate hunters. “Agates come down from all the different rivers and go into the ocean and then get thrown up on our rocky coast,” says Donna Hirschman, manager of Planet Yachats, which sells rocks, fossils and minerals from all over the world. Hirschman says January and February are the best months to look for agates. “After you have a lot of wind, rain and high tides, you can find agates and even fossils that have been embedded.”
Low winter tides also make Oregon’s shipwrecks more visible as the water retreats from the bones of old sailing vessels like the Peter Iredale at Fort Stevens State Park, which ran aground in 1906. Near Horsfall Beach in the Coos Bay area, visitors can view the remains of the George L. Olson, a steam schooner wrecked in 1944, and the Sujameco, a steamboat that met disaster in a fog in 1929.
Remember to check local tide tables and surf reports before you go exploring. Always use caution when exploring on the coast, and never turn your back on the wonderful and powerful ocean.