With seven miles of beach to explore in Lincoln City, there is no knowing what you might discover! From treasure hunting to whale watching, there are miles of smiles to be had for any visitor.
The best of the sea’s treasure comes ashore after a big storm. You’ll find beautiful driftwood, agates, shells, sea creatures, and if you’re lucky, a multi-colored handblown glass float from Lincoln City’s defining event, Finders Keepers.
After a big coastal storm, the beach is a great place to hunt for these gemstones. The semi-transparent stones are pieces of quartz, carnelian, chalcedony and jasper that come loose from the headlands during storms and are left behind when the waves recede at low tide. Agates come in all colors, with some even containing tiny fossils. Agates can be found along beaches and rivers where they wash out to the ocean and get polished in the surf over time. In the summer, agates on sandy beaches are deep beneath the sand.
In days gone by, visitors searching Oregon’s coastline often found treasures from the far-east: blown glass floats in intriguing shades of green and blue. Used by Japanese fishermen to float their nets, these spheres were as small as two inches or as large as two feet. They were collected, polished, and admired: the ultimate find for any dedicated beach comber. Today, fishing vessels around the world use buoyant plastic, making glass floats a rare find – except in Lincoln City where these treasures can be found every October through May during the Finders Keepers season.
Every year, between Mid-October through Memorial Day, over 2,000 brightly colored glass floats are carefully hidden along the seven miles of beach in Lincoln City, from Roads End on the north side of town to Siletz Bay on the south end. Floats can be found above the high tide line and below the beach embankment, and are always hidden during daylight hours. If you find a glass float, you get to keep it!
To learn more about Finders Keepers, please visit our page here.
Although beach combing may be fun, it’s always a good idea to keep safety in mind when visiting the Oregon Coast. The ocean conditions can be unpredictable, which is why you should avoid turning your back to the water. Watch for logs that wash up on shore. Make sure to dress for cooler weather, as it can get rainy and windy on our beach. For more beach safety tips, please visit the Oregon Parks and Recreation Website.
The tide gradually recedes, leaving behind exposed rocks with many little pools of still salt water. In those pools many colorful, exotic creatures make their homes – starfish, sea anemones and urchins, and tiny fish. There are several good areas to explore tide pools in the Lincoln City area. Two of the best are at Roads End State Park and at the 15th Street beach access. Starfish live side-by-side with sea anemones and sea urchins. The starfish are red, orange and pink; the sea anemones are a rich purple and green; and the sea urchins a rich, dark purple. Among this cornucopia of colors are tiny fish and hermit crabs darting from one rocky shelter to the next. Rocky residents like mussels and barnacles thrive in the intertidal zone. Mussels have a long, tapered dark blue to black shell. The vivid, orange flesh of the mussel is edible and a prized delicacy in many parts of the world. Barnacles are small, and usually white, and cluster on rocks and pilings.
Crabbing and Clamming
Crabbing and Clamming are great activities for any group, any time of the year. Siletz Bay at the south end of Lincoln City is a prime spot for both. Large Dungeness crabs can be harvested right off shore, after the high tide. And at low tide, the bay becomes a mud flats, perfect for clam digging. Look for the small shotgun-like holes in the ground, dig a couple inches, and reach down for fresh purple varnish clams. If you don’t know how to catch these coastal culinary delights, learn at one of our Crabbing and Clamming Clinics.
Led by local expert Bill Lackner, these clinics are a great way to learn how to catch your dinner right off Siletz Bay. Each clinic begins with a brief orientation, where proper techniques as well as regulations and best practices are discussed. Then it’s off to Siletz Bay for crabbing and clamming. Each participant must have a valid Shellfish License in order to harvest crabs or clams. Some equipment is required. To learn more, visit our Crabbing and Clamming Page.
Riding the Waves
People looking for surfers, and how they operate, can spot them all along the beaches close to Lincoln City. If checking it out in person is what you’re after, visit the annual Nelscott Reef Tow In Surf Competition.
Of course, those who ride Oregon waves must dress for success. The water is quite chilly and wet suits are highly recommended. As with all ocean sports, caution is key. Before heading out on the breakers, inquire about wave conditions and safe surfing areas.
In addition, there is great windsurfing and kitesurfing opportunities on the Ocean and Devil’s Lake, so if traditional ocean surfing is not your style, you can still hit the water on a board!
There are a variety of shops in Lincoln City to help you with your surfing gear needs, including boards, wetsuits, clothing and equipment, along with lessons and lots of first-hand information:
Gray whales were once an endangered species, but protection measures have resulted in their removal from the endangered species list in 1994. The whales migrate each year, about 12,000 miles (19,311 km) round-trip, from northern waters off Alaska to the Gulf of California in Mexico, and back.
The whales usually stay close to land, generally from one-half mile to three miles offshore. In the fall and winter, groups of two to ten individuals are led by pregnant females on their route south. The warm waters of Mexico make for a perfect environment to welcome a new baby calf, and once born are the size of a small bus! After giving birth, mom and her baby make the slow trek back to Alaska in the spring.
During the spring and winter, Oregon State Parks hosts whale watch weeks for visitors along the Oregon Coast. Volunteer interpreters are on hand from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at locations on the coast to help curious visitors spot the whales. Look for signs that say “Whale Watching Spoken Here.” The best place to see the migration is from any elevated location in early morning, before the wind blows to see them spouting water high up in the air. Lucky viewers sometimes see them spy hopping (when they stick their heads out of the sea) or breaching (when the whale jumps out of the water and falls back in with a great splash.)
The best view in Lincoln City to spot one of these majestic mammals is at the 10th floor of the Inn at Spanish Head. This location is an official whale watching spot, as part of the Whale Watching Spoken Here program.
If you prefer your views more up-close and personal, then visit Depoe Bay just ten minutes south of Lincoln City. The official “Whale Watching Capital of the World”, Depoe Bay is home to the Oregon State Parks Whale Watching Center as well as several charter companies.