Difference between East Coast and West Coast Oysters

It’s important to know the difference between East and West coast oysters as their differing flavors mean knowledge is required in order to order those best suited to your preference.  This article looks at these differences more closely and discusses some of the accompaniments that help enhance the oysters natural taste.


East Coast Oysters: 

East Coast Oysters

Whilst all East Coast oysters are the same species they are sold under regional names and vary slightly in brininess (saltiness) and flavor.  The four different types you can have are known as Wellfleets (found at Cape Cod),  Blue Points (Long Island), Chincoteagues (Virginia) and Apalachicolas (Florida).  East Coast oysters are grown sub-tidally and have smooth shells and a mild, crisp flavor.

West Coast Oysters:

West Coast Oysters

The only native species of oyster left on the West Coast is Olympia due to over-farming, as a result of this, oysters are now flown in from other places such as Japan and grown intertidally.  They are the about the size of a silver dollar and have sweeter notes of seaweed and fruit like flavors.  They’re described as creamy and smooth in texture.

Comparison chart

East Coast Oysters West Coast Oysters
High salinity Sweeter taste
Smooth shells with rounded edges Jagged shells with ridges and points
Shades of brown, green and white Shades of purple, pink, black, white and green
Bigger shells Deeper shells
Slightly chewy Creamy and smooth texture
Best with Asian flavours Best with crisper flavours such as cucumber

East Coast vs West Coast Oysters

What is the difference between East Coast and West Coast oysters?

  • East Coast oysters are known for their high salinity, particularly as you move further down the coast line in comparison to the much cleaner flavor of West Coast oysters that range in their brininess.
  • The shell on East Coast oysters are generally smooth with round edges and in shades of brown, green and white.  This vastly contrasts West Coast shells which, due to the Pacific oceans roughness, have jagged edges with points and ridges and have a range of colors from  purple to white, green, pink and  black.
  • West Coast oysters are smaller than the East Coast which can be up to six inches in diameter, however, their shells are deeper resulting in plumper meat.
  • West Coast oysters are described as creamy and smooth in texture and taste as opposed to the more mineral, chewier texture of those on the East Coast.
  • Although oysters are good on their own, if you were to give them accompaniments, it is recommended that for West Coast oysters you add sweet notes and Asian flavours.  East Coast oysters are better suited to crisper flavours such as cucumber.


To give you an idea of how different these oysters can look this short video will show you each in turn: