Agate Beach, California

New visitors to Agate Beach are often perplexed by the sight of people walking slowly with their heads bowed, intently studying the ground as though they've lost a contact lens, or of other people sitting down and methodically sifting through the beach gravel beds.
What are they looking for? Oysters? Clams? Pirate treasure? The answer is implicit in the beach's name: agates. The translucent, semi-precious stones are regularly churned up by the powerful waves, and many folks make a habit of visiting the beach on a regular basis to search for these and other pretty rocks. In fact, many local residents have been agate hunting for years and have large mason jars full of stones to show for it. Even more precious moonstones and jade can sometimes be found, as well as the more expected beach flotsam of shells, bits of crab shell, driftwood and the occasional fishing float.

Beachcombing is just one of the attractions of this long, remote beach. For some, Agate Beach is the ideal spot for watching wildlife. Whales, sea lions and numerous shore birds share the beach with humans. The occasional purposeful flight of Brown Pelicans along the beach is just one of the many natural treasures to be experienced.
With a sharp drop-off and powerful rip tide, Agate Beach is definitely not for swimming, and visitors are cautioned to exercise the utmost care. Never turn your back on the waves, or trust that you can remain standing in what you think is a minor wave. It's not worth the risk. But sitting well back from the water, Agate Beach is a perfect place to contemplate the awesome power of the sea, and to fantasize about the exotic places far over the western horizon.

Agate Beach is accessed from either Patrick's Point State Park--leave your car at the Agate Beach campground and take the long flight of stairs down to the beach--or from the Big Lagoon County Park day use area. Bring a picnic, bring a kite, and be prepared for a wonderful day of seaside adventure. Just be careful how far you walk--you'll be returning with your pockets full of stones!

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