San Simeon State Beach agates
What you can find: Agate, jasper pieces
Ease of access: Very easy, beach is only a few hundred feet from parking lot.
Equipment needed: Bag or pocket to put your finds into.
Safety considerations: Remember to keep an eye on the ocean.
San Simeon beach is a popular spot with local rockhounds, not least because they can hang out on a sunny beach all day and still claim to have been out rockhounding.
The best time to go is right after a storm, when fresh rocks will be washed down the creek and out of the ocean. Sunlight will help you spot the agates more easily, but it is not a requirement. [You can still claim it is, if you want to wait for a sunny day].
The agates range in size from tiny specks to around the size of a half-dollar, on average, although I have seen one or two as big as a person's fist. They have a white rind on the outside, sometimes intricately patterned, and are usually clear to honey-colored when held up to the light. If you're very lucky, you might find a piece of carnelian [red agate] here as well.
The locals often call these agates Moonstones, presumably for their white coloration and the way they seem to glow when held up to the light. [True moonstone is actually a type of feldspar, but it's still a nice name].
The majority of the material seems to wash down from the creek, so be sure to look in the creekbed for larger chunks of jasper, and for pieces of agate that have not yet been rounded in the surf. Some of the agate may have sagenite inclusions [a fine, hair-like mineral] - these can make very attractive cabochons. I've heard that some of the jasper the washes out of the creek has pyrite or marcasite inclusions.