Low tide rockhounding at my favourite beach

I got out to my favourite local beach on Vancouver Island today in Nanoose Bay. It’s my favourite because of its privacy and bounty of great rocks, like our local jasper Dallasite and attractive porphyry Flowerstone.

My first meeting with Dallasite was on this beach. For a few weeks I had been thinking that there must be something I can just find out in nature that’s valuable.

My favourite Vancouver Island beach at low tide.

My favourite Vancouver Island beach at low tide.

At first I collected nice-looking driftwood. That was well and good, but on one driftwood trip to the beach a white rock caught my eye. Then another, and the rockhound addiction was on.

Rocks at my favourite beach.

Rocks at my favourite beach.


I spent the next weeks and months hounding that beach and researching as much as I could on the internet to find out exactly what was down there. Now I know Vancouver Island hosts its own unique jasper, the colourful breccia Dallasite.

That's what I'm after, Vancouver Island Dallasite.

That’s what I’m after, Vancouver Island Dallasite.

This trip to the beach was a quick one. It’s too hot for my red neck to spend the middle of the day outside right now. The tide was fully out, exposing everything.

My favourite Vancouver Island beach at low tide, another angle.

My favourite Vancouver Island beach at low tide, another angle.

But though the tide was out, I wasn’t finding a whole lot. Many rocks are covered in a black silt that obscures their looks and the farther out you go, the longer rocks have stayed in that area and are obscured by barnacles. It’s really the freshly bounced around rocks at the upper 2/3rds of tide height that have the best yield.

A good sized piece of Flowerstone. I've found a few that seem to be the shape of bananas.

A good sized piece of Flowerstone. I’ve found a few that seem to be the shape of bananas.

That said, I still had fun collecting a few pieces of Dallasite, one nice Flowerstone and other treasures. The oyster farmers didn’t even have to get wet to work today, it was all exposed for them.

Some Dallasite gets a molten yellow/brown sort of look. I tend to be most excited for the white pieces but these are interesting.

Some Dallasite gets a molten yellow/brown sort of look. I tend to be most excited for the white pieces but these are interesting.

I'm attracted to translucency in rocks but this one was too big to put in my bucket.

I’m attracted to translucency in rocks but this one was too big to put in my bucket.

Beach crabs and little sucker fish type guys.

Beach crabs and little sucker fish type guys.

Nanaimo deer that I want to eat.

Nanaimo deer that I want to eat.

  3 comments for “Low tide rockhounding at my favourite beach

  1. Liz Chepil
    February 22, 2019 at 4:25 am

    I have always had a tendency to come home with pockets full of rocks after being at the beach. 2 months ago tomorrow, I lost my mom to cancer. 4 days aftert that I was able to move into my new place a little early- a bigger place, so that I could take her cats and have room for them & my 3 fur-kids. A place that is only a few blocks away from the “dog park” part of White Rock beach.
    Shortly before she passed, she told me 3 things she wanted me to do 1) keep going to the Legion she was an important and active member at
    2) get a job with dogs bc that’s what will make me actually feel happy & I’ve been dog crazy pretty much since the day I was born, lol. (I’m just starting to work on figuring out what career to persue on that) &
    3) Look for me in the little white rocks you see at the beach

    So I started collecting little white rocks. I decided I would find one perfect little white rock every time I went to the beach and see how many I had after a year. Of course, it was never only ONE white rock I’d pick up. Earlier this week, Rain (my golden retriever) & I went down to the beach on a grey & dismal day despite the pouring rain- she doesn’t mind the rain & I thought it would help cheer me up a little. There were soo many beautiful, glossy, unique rocks that all looked extra pretty & shiny along the 2’ of wet beach we had to walk along.
    For some reason if you head left vs right, the variety of stones are completely different. I ended up stuffing litterally every pocket (of my 2 sweaters & jacket) as well as having a bunch more in my arms! I just couldn’t help it, they all looked so beautiful that day. The next day I felt like I just HAD to go to the beach and look for more pretty rocks. I carried home a tote bag full that weighed at least 15lbs…I told my sisters “I think I have a rock problem’ as I sent them pictures and spent several hours that night scrubbing and polishing them with olive oil, trying to figure out any way to make them keep that beautiful glossy shine like they did when I found them. I’ve been down there every day this week, returning home with another tote bag full of the pretty, unique rocks I’ve collected. My kitchen is completely full of shiny oily stones layed out by colour or shape as well as filling every piece of Tupperware with the sorted stones & ones still needing to be washed. It appears I may have become a little obsessed with this new hobby rather quickly, lol!
    The last few days I’ve been trying to find books I could buy to tell me what all these pretty, sparkly, speckley, multi coulored & ringed rocks were that have taken over most of my kitchen. And trying to research craft or jewellery ideas to decide what on earth I plan to do with them all. I wasn’t having any luck, just books on geology of Canada & books on “sea glass beach combers” absolutely no results for learning about collecting beach stones. I was completely baffled, how could that be right??
    So at 3am I randomly came across your entry above.. I swear I have almost the exact same stones as some of the ones you pictured in the entry! And that apparently I’ve just been searching the wrong words, I’m not a sea stone collector, I’m a Rock HOUND, and how fitting is that name for me, lol!
    So, there you have it. I’ve officially found just the right explanation and learned that I must have a good eye for this as I’ve now learned what some of my rocks are called. Thank you for that & thank you for confirming that this seems like a new hobby that was truly “meant to be” for me (& there’s also a lot more people around that are just like me & have “a rock problem” that it isn’t really a problem after all).
    Is there a way to send you a few pics of some of the ones I found that very closely resemble the ones you had posted. And can you recommend a couple “must have” books that I should get (on the less expensive end to get started preferably)? You have officially aided the birth of a new Rock hound student & enthusiast

    Liz Chepil & Rain 🙂

    • Doug McLeod
      February 27, 2019 at 4:41 pm

      Hi Liz,

      Here is the BC Lapidary Society website. http://www.bclapidary.com/ There you will find lots of info including Clubs you can join. There is one in Delta. It’s fun. I belong to the Victoria Lapidary and Mineral Society. My interest is beach pebbles. Our club has a workshop with Lapidary machines we can use. Also a library with books we can check out. There is a big Gem show in Abbotsford in April. Info on the BC Society site. Hope this gets you started. The Etsy.ca webstore is for crafts & hobbies. I just started a store, Dougsbeachjewelry. If you search beach jewelry on the site you can see lots of finished stones that are named. Not sure that they are all correct but I use it al the time. Welcome to the obsessed Rock Hounders club. We all seem to be and that’s good.

      Cheers Doug

  2. Burningstew
    February 22, 2019 at 7:40 am

    Hey Liz, thanks for the comment and touching story. Rocks can sure change your life. Send pics to my email at burningstew@gmail.com.

    I don’t know about the best books, but the best forum for rock enthusiasts for sure is http://forum.rocktumblinghobby.com

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