Beachcombing Grays Harbor
Looking north from Moclips, you can see the sea stacks off Point Grenville that are part of the Copalis National Wildlife Refuge. Photo credit: Dani Dooley

Grays Harbor: A Beachcomber’s Paradise

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Grays Harbor’s 50 miles of ocean coastline are a beachcomber’s paradise. Treasures range from driftwood to shipwrecks and everything in between. In years past, treasure hunters have found household debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami, and Nike shoes and rubber duckies from container spills. With some basic knowledge and a little luck, you too can discover something amazing or interesting on the beaches of Grays Harbor.

Carl Ebbesmeyer is a researcher that tracks the treasures floating across thousands of miles of ocean. He calls his study flotsamology. Experts like Ebbesmeyer suggest the best treasures will be found after a storm along the wrack line — the swath of debris deposited by the previous high tide. Follow the descending tide for deposits of driftwood, bullwhip kelp, bottles, plastics, glass, balls, buoys and more. Watch for shells, rocks and agates as the tide nears low.

Beachcombing Grays Harbor
A stunning sunset and low tide combine over beachcombers searching for sea glass. Pack a flashlight to extend your search at the beach. Photo credit: Dani Dooley

Check the weather and tide tables for your planned beach before heading out, and make sure to take some supplies to be prepared. It’s always a good idea to have a first aid kit, snacks and plenty of water in your car. Rubber boots and rain gear as well as some good plastic-coated garden-type gloves will be helpful in muddy conditions. Of course, you’ll want a container to stow your finds in, and a camera for restricted items or treasures too big to take home.

Most beaches will gather flotsam as the tide goes out, but in Grays Harbor there are a few beaches that stand out as treasure troves of desirable debris. Grayland Beach is one of the best. The local area hosts a yearly Driftwood Show and Glass Float Hunt and is so well known that the beachcombing here is competitive. Be sure to arrive early and follow the tide out. After a big storm, you will find sand dollars, driftwood, bullwhip kelp, sea creatures, cool rocks, shells and incredible amounts of flotsam. You may drive on this beach year-round, but beware of soft sand at the beach approaches. It’s always a good idea to have shovels, tow ropes and lumber to assist in towing a stuck car.  Read more here: