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January 2022


Winter on the North coast offers unending opportunities for adventure; from quiet trails that beckon exploration to whale watching from atop the Great Dune at Cape Kiwanda. One of our favorite seasonal outings that we love to share with guests is agate hunting—it’s a special Oregon coast-specific activity that is equal parts fun, educational, and relaxing. The best time to find these unique stones is during the months of November through March, thanks to winter storms stripping away sand on the beaches of the coast. One of our favorite spots to visit is Short Beach, it’s quite possibly one of the best beaches on the North Coast to look for agates and other semi-precious stones. Short Beach is approximately a forty-minute drive north of Headlands and is located about 1.3 miles north of the town of Oceanside. Our favorite route to Short Beach wanders along part of the beautiful Three Capes Scenic Loop—we like to recommend that guests plan extra time for stops along the way to Short Beach, perhaps at Cape Lookout or Nevør Shellfish Farm.



For rock collecting you will want some sort of bag to hold your finds- a gallon zip lock bag, a small bucket works well, your pockets will do if needed! Short Beach has a stream that separates the beach into two sections, during the winter and spring it can be difficult to cross due to high-water volume. We recommend wearing tall rubber boots or waterproof hiking boots so that you can easily cross to the other side.

It is best to show up and start collecting as the surf heads out right after the high tide. It’s also much safer to search during a receding tide than an incoming tide. Our Adventure Coach Marcy recommends getting to the beach about 2 hours after high tide.

Among the basalt cobble and pebbles, you will most commonly find agates and jaspers of varied color and patterns. Both agates and jasper are a form of the mineral chalcedony. Agates are transparent and have a “glow” to them in the sun. Most commonly they are clear but can be honey-colored, red/orange (carnelian), and even black. Jaspers found on this beach are typically brown, yellow, red, or even blue-green. Other minerals you may find include calcite, petrified wood, quartz, and zeolite.



Higher up on the beach, the rocks tend to be larger and will often still have agates embedded in them. To find the loose ones you will need to look through the smaller gravel pits closer to the water

Here are some hunting tips from our team:

  • Try different angles and walk straight lines or zig zag pattern
  • Look at wet rock, it brightens the colors
  • Dig in one spot, you will be surprised at how many agates you can find buried under the surface rocks

If you need any help identifying what you found on your outing, please stop by the Adventure Center and one of our Adventure Coaches can help you identify your stones. Or join Marcy on a guided Beach Agate Hunt!

As with every adventure, there are a few things to know before you head out—here are a few tips that we always share with our guests at Headlands:

  • Remember to check the tides, surf report, and weather before heading out to any beach or trail
  • Bring rain gear regardless of the forecast and even a spare pair of socks/pants in case a wave sneaks up on you
  • If you’re planning on spending most of the day out exploring, we recommend bringing a daypack stocked with water, a few snacks, and light layers to accommodate the changing temperatures
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