my top 7 tips for finding sea glass

Have you ever walked for miles down a sandy beach, searching high and low for ocean treasures, only to come home with wind-blown hair and empty pockets? While no beach walk is ever a waste of time or total disappointment, it can be discouraging when you feel like everyone else finds all the goodies and you never do. That’s why I want to share with you my top tips for finding sea glass and shells!

Tip 1: Get off that idyllic beach

While we all love a beautiful, clean, sandy beach that stretches for miles, it’s not generally where you are going to find the good stuff. This is not a hard and fast rule, but it often proves true. Beachgoers usually like beaches with soft sand and not many rocks, and those beaches have probably been frequented by tourists for a really long time. But what is sea glass? It’s essentially garbage. Which means people had to throw out their garbage at some point, and it’s not likely they would’ve done that in an area where lots of tourists were going. Are you following me here?

So, look for dirty beaches. Or rocky or pebbly beaches. Pebbles have the added benefit of trapping glass and tossing it around, making it worn and smooth.

Often these beaches are off the beaten path and may not be easy to get to. Look at Google maps for an arial view and to help you find roads to help you get there. Take a friend and be safe. Remember to check tide charts and don’t take unnecessary risks.

sea glass marble on a pebbly beach

 Tip 2: Take a trip in a time machine

Chances are that you don’t have access to a time machine, but what I really mean is to think about the history of an area. Was there ever glass manufacturing nearby? Are there historical buildings near the water, such as forts or castles? Are there any abandoned factories? What did the town historically do with their garbage?

For example, in Fort Bragg, California the community started discarding waste on the beaches in 1906, and this practice continued until 1967. Today there is what is known as “Glass Beach” near MacKerricher State Park. If you can ask around or read some local history of an area you might get some good clues of where to look.

Tip 3: Go slow

Beachcombing is a relaxing and mindful activity, but it’s not great for burning calories. If you really want to find treasures you need to slow down, even bend or crouch down so you can look closely. Look for pockets of pebbles collected on the beach, maybe at the high tide line, or if you go at low tide then check closer to the water. Look for things that sparkle, focus your mind on looking for specific colors or shapes or textures that are not the same as the pebbles. This can take time, training your eye how to spot those treasures takes practice, but it’s still fun in the meantime!

plastic bag full of trash found on the beach while looking for sea glass

Tip 4: Be a good citizen of our planet

With all that ground you are covering, you are likely to see some garbage, especially plastic. Take a trash bag with you and collect as much plastic waste as you can. Often, it’s while we are doing this that we actually find some great treasures! And remember, each piece you pick up and dispose of properly is one less piece of plastic that could potentially harm a sea creature.

Speaking of sea creatures, if you’re collecting shells, NEVER take home a shell that is still occupied. Obviously the same goes for starfish, seahorses, and other marine life. Appreciate the beauty, take a picture, then carefully place the creature back in the water.

Tip 5: Don’t be a “fair-weather” beachcomber

Often big sorms bring great treasures, so don’t wait for the weather to clear up before you go. Even overcast days are often better for spotting sea glass because there’s less harsh shadows. Get yourself a good rain jacket and fleece headband, and get out there! You’ll also have less competition.

beachcombing looking for sea glass in a rain jacket on a rainy day
Beachcombing bag for holding your sea glass

Tip 6: Take a beachcombing bag for your sea glass treasures!

I have two Yoake bags from Reverse Gem, and they are perfect. They are made with durable waterproof mesh that can handle heavy loads (sea glass, sea pottery, shells, rocks, driftwood, etc). It keeps sand out and it dries fast.

You can get yours here: https://www.reversegem.com/product-page/yoake-beachcombing-bag

Tip 7: Have fun and be mindful

Remember, there’s much more to beachcombing than bringing home treasures. Whether you go alone or with a friend, enjoy your time. Stop to look around you, breathe deeply, meditate on the wonders of our natural world. If you pray, this is a great time to do so and express gratitude. No day at the beach is a bad day! If you follow my tips, you will go home refreshed and recharged, and hopefully with a few treasures as well!

white, green, pink and teal sea glass