Treasure Hunting Comes to Life in This Oregon Coast Town

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We know you don’t need any additional reasons to make an excuse to visit the Oregon Coast. With its stunning beauty, fascinating towns, and breathtaking wildlife, this part of Oregon is a destination that is all unto itself.

But in the city of Lincoln City, they have a program that just may have you coming back again and again throughout the year. That program is the Finders Keepers glass float search.

Sunset in the Oregon coast with colorful glass floats on a rock and a sandy beach and the ocean in the background
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History of Glass Floats in the Pacific Ocean

Through the first half of the 20th century, Japan’s fishing fleets buoyed their fishing nets with small hand-blown glass floats. Over this time, many of these floats broke free and drifted around the waters of the Pacific for decades!

Although the use of these floats was phased out in favor of cheaper plastic and foam floats, the old glass floats can still be found on beaches along the Pacific coastline.

While it is rare to find one on the busy beaches of the continental United States (although not impossible!), you can still find some on remote Alaskan beaches.

Japanese glass float
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Lincoln City’s Glass Floats

Back in 1997, Lincoln City decided to embrace the history of beachcombing for these glass floats and started its Finders Keepers program.

Every day of the year (minus some very stormy days), the city hides hand-blown glass floats made by local artists along its seven miles of sandy beaches.

Per the Explore Lincoln City website, there are a few basic rules for finding these treasured pieces:

  • Floats can be found above the high tide line and below the beach embankment.
  • Floats are placed on the beach during daylight hours only.
  • Floats are hidden throughout the day, not just at one time.
  • Floats are out there every day rain or shine. On rare occasions, weather and ocean conditions can create unsafe situations. Official notice of any cancellations will be made on our social media channels and website.
  • Be mindful of the environment when hunting. Be kind to the Coast.
  • One float per household, per year. Spread the love!

Every float is labeled with an ID number, which can be entered to find out more information about the local artist who made your float!

Art glass float on sandy beach with calm ocean
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Special Drops

Over the course of the year, the city does 17 special glass float drops to commemorate holidays, events, or the changing of the seasons. These drops include extra floats that may be colored to match the season or holiday, like orange and black glass for Halloween.

Here is the special drop schedule for the rest of 2024:

  • Aug 31-Sept 2, 2024: College Ball: 20 Green/yellow and 20 Orange/black floats
  • September 7-8, 2024: Fall Kite: 10 floats
  • September 11-14, 2024: Celebration of Honor: 50 Red/white/blue floats
  • Oct 31-Nov 2, 2024: Halloween: 50 floats*
  • Nov 28-Dec 1, 2024: Harvest Drop: 50 floats*
  • December 14-15, 2024: Holiday: 50 floats*
Driftwood covered beach at Lincoln City, Oregon
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How to Find Glass Floats in Lincoln City

The best chance of finding a float of your own is to visit in the off-season or during a special drop when extra floats are distributed along the coastline.

This program is incredibly popular, so there is no better strategy than walking the beach as much as possible.

The floats are hidden (usually in plain sight, so don’t spend too much time looking under logs) between the high tide line and below the beach embankment, so it is easy to scan the entire area while doing a lap down the beach.

Heading out during less-than-ideal weather is another great way to increase your odds, as it will greatly reduce the number of casual beach walkers.

Best Times to Visit

Some of the best times to visit during the rest of 2024 will be for the Celebration of Honor drop (September 11-14: 50 extra floats), Halloween (October 31 – November 2: 50 extra floats), Harvest Drop (November 28 – December 1: 50 extra floats), and December Holiday (December 14-15: 50 extra floats).

In addition to these dates being in the offseason, the additional daily floats will make it far easier to find your own to bring home!

About the author
Derek Carlson
Pacific Northwest native, cross-country skier, hiker, mountain biker, wannabe fly fisherman, writer and owner of Roam the Northwest