Best Beaches in California to Find Sea Glass

Treasure troves of beautiful, frosted gems called sea glass lie on many shores along the coast of California. However, as sea glass becomes more and more popular, especially for jewelry and crafts, these valuable gifts from the sea are quickly being scooped up by collectors. Some even sell them on Web sites like ebay and Etsy.

California Sea Glass

Nonetheless, finding the most sea glass means finding the best beach locations. Even though sea glass grows scarce and many beaches have been picked over, there are still a few good places along California’s coast where you can find these recycled little treasures.

 

Sea Glass

Fort Bragg, California

Glass Beach in Fort Bragg is probably the best location to find sea glass along California’s coast. It is a little over three hours north of San Francisco just a few blocks west of Highway 1 off Elm Street.

Directions: Off Highway 1 in Fort Bragg, head west on Elm Street. At the end of Elm Street, turn left into the parking lot. Park your car and follow the paved path towards the ocean and then head south until you see the Glass Beach sign and the stairs that go down to the cove. The best time to go to Glass Beach is an hour or two before and after low tide.

The best time to go to Glass Beach is an hour or two before and after low tide.

Glass Beach

Glass Beach

When you step down to Glass Beach, you’ll notice that the shore is covered in sea glass. If you’re a sea glass lover, put Glass Beach on your list to visit. It has the highest concentration of sea glass in the world. You can actually stand on the shore near the water’s edge in many places and sink into mounds of sea glass.

Glass Beach Stairs

Sea Glass on Glass Beach

Glass Beach Map and Directions

You should also plan to visit the International Sea Glass Museum in Fort Bragg. You’ll learn about the history of Fort Bragg sea glass and see several nice specimens. The people at the museum can also help you find locations around the area where you’ll be sure to find sea glass.

Monterey, California

There are two beaches in Monterey, California where you’ll be sure to find sea glass. Seaside State Beach is located a little northeast of Monterey. It’s a long beach surrounded by sand cliffs and sand dunes. The best location to find sea glass on Seaside Beach is located north towards the rocks. For the best results, be sure to go collecting about one hour before and one hour after low tide. Nearby beaches Sand City, Fort Ord Dunes State Park, and Aptos are also good sites for finding sea glass.

Another beach in Monterey where you can find sea glass is Monterey State Beach next to Fisherman’s Wharf towards the town of Seaside.

Cayucos, California

Cayucos is famous for its annual sea glass festival, and the beach also has sea glass on its shores. Located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, the small, charming beach town stretches along a small cove among the hills on California’s central coast.

Town of Cayucos

Beach in Cayucos

 

Beach in Cayucos

 

Sea glass shards lie among lots of small rocks on the beach in Cayucos.  Collect sea glass in Cayucos a few hours before and after low tide for best results.

Cayucos Sea Glass on the Beach

Sea Glass on the Beach in Cayucos

Summerland Beach in Santa Barbara, California

Hidden away off the 101 Freeway off Padaro Lane lies a thin stretch of beach in front of cliffs where a few people let their dogs run leash free. A few serious beachcombers also stroll the sand and rocks looking for treasures like shells and sea glass.

To get to Sunnerland Beach in Santa Barbara, exit at Padaro Lane. Head west and turn right on Padaro. Drive down a residential road until you reach a sign that says Loon Point. Turn into the parking lot. Follow the path at the end of the parking lot to the beach.

sea glass in southern california

Go to Summerland a few hours before and after low tide, but be sure not get stuck in a cove when the tide starts coming back in or you’ll have to climb a cliff and wait for low tide to return. 

An outhouse is located in the parking lot on Paderno Lane, but no other facilities or lifeguards are on the beach.

Real Sea Glass Summerland Beach

 

Malibu, California

Although many private luxury homes stand along the 27 mile shore in Malibu, everything below the mean high tide line belongs to the public. In other words, most of the sand the water has touched belongs to the public.

Several of the wealthy try to put barriers up like hedges to keep the general public away from the beach in front of their homes; however, you can walk along Malibu’s beaches below the high-tide line legally and collect sea glass.

The best time to find sea glass in Malibu is after a storm.

How to Find Public Access to Malibu Beaches

Don’t worry about finding public access (aka public easements) to beautiful Malibu beaches; there’s an app for that: “Our Malibu Beaches.” Thank you, Jenny Price, for creating the App!

Find public access through beaches in Malibu such as Big Rock Beach, Carbon Beach, Malibu Pier, Dan Blocker County Beach, El Matador State Beach, El Pescador State Beach, Escondido Beach, La Piedra State Beach, Las Fores State Beach, Las Tunas Beach, Latigo Beach, Lechuze Beach and other’s with easy-to-follow directions from “Our Malibu Beaches” app.

El Matador State Beach Malibu

 

El Matador Beach malibu

El Matador Malibu Beach

Stairs at El Matador Beach

La Jolla, California

Find plenty of tiny sea glass shards in La Jolla, California. La Jolla’s popularity draws people from all over the globe; however, many ignore the shinny recycled frosty glass gems lying on the sand. Most of the shards are small, but a few larger ones lie here and there.

For the best sea glass experience, be sure to plan your La Jolla trip around low tide. Go two hours before and after low tide.

Besides finding sea glass in La Jolla, you’ll also enjoy its charm, beauty, and ocean activities like kayaking, boating, and scuba diving.

La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove Sea Glass

La Jolla Cove Sea Glass

Sea Glass Beaches in California

Many beaches in California have sea glass. To increase you odds of finding sea glass, be sure to go to the beach a few hours before and after low tide and look for beaches that have small pebbles and rocks. In California, beaches with smooth sand rarely have sea glass.

Other factors like weather, moon phases, wave activity, and prevailing winds also affect the odds of finding sea glass.

Please share in the comment section below about places in California where you’ve found sea glass.

Good luck with your search for sea glass in California!

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5 Responses to “Best Beaches in California to Find Sea Glass”

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  1. Ms C. says:

    Glass Beach, the one with some glass still left, in Fort Bragg can be a risky adventure for many. The cliff that one has to climb is daunting.

    At my last visit, I passed on the climb and so did my very athletic husband (he rides 100+ miles a week on his bicycle and is very healthy.) Several women took one look and turned around. One guy in his 40’s made the climb, but it took him 20 minutes going down very carefully and another 15 coming back up. Even a young skinny teen shrugged his shoulders and went back south.

    Why this hasn’t been made safer baffles me. This is the area where the fence was, a short walk north.
    I remained at the top of the cliff, and saw just a tiny bit of white shards about the size of half a fingertip.

    I also saw a sign on the south part of the beach that no glass is to be removed. It was a city sign. A police officer was also checking on the area, as well as a park official.

    The fence, from what I heard, is gone. That area is private land.

    My one question: is it even legal to remove glass from any of the beaches? I know some do gather the glass, as I’ve seen sellers from all around the Fort Bragg area sell it, but are they within their legal rights? This whole safety and legal issue has really puzzled me!

    • Cathy says:

      Hi, Ms. C, Thank you for your comments. Part of Glass Beach (sites two and three) is located in Mecherister Park, so it may be illegal to take sea glass from these two sites. Site one, however according to my research, is not located in Mecherister Park, and it is legal to take sea glass up to the high tide mark. Anything below the high tide mark is considered out-to-sea. Right now the only way to get to site one legally is by boat or kayak through the water because the cliffs above the cove have no trespassing signs. When I visit Glass Beach I go by kayak–as long as the water conditions are safe–to site one.

      If you check my article “Glass Beach Map and Directions,” (http://www.findseaglass.net/glass-beach-map-and-directions/) you’ll see exactly where all three sites are located on Google Maps. Yes, it can be dangerous to climb down the cliffs above sites two and three, but although the first time was daunting for me, I’ve done it quite a few times since, and I usually launch my kayak off site two. I’ve also helped people climb up and down the cliffs.

      Yes, you’re correct about the fence being removed, but the good news is that the city of Fort Bragg is currently renovating the areas above all three Glass Beach sites and according to locals, creating paths so people can access all Glass Beach sites more safely. One of the first things they did was remove the fence. The construction should be completed by summer 2015. Also, when I was in Fort Bragg about three weeks ago, I noticed they removed the sign stating that taking sea glass is illegal.

      I hope you have a chance to visit Glass Beach again after the construction is finished and have a better experience getting down to the coves to see the sea glass.

  2. Sheri says:

    We discovered Fort Ord State Park near Monterey California just last week. I didn’t think there were any good beaches for sea glass and shells in Monterey. Thought you had to go to Carmel for that. But then we found Fort Ord State Park when we were just looking for a quiet beach to have a Sunday picnic. We found lots and lots of bright green and blue sea glass, some very fascinating rocks and more shells than we have found on California beaches ever. The biggest plus about this beach is that it is a bit out of the way not exactly easy to find the access road, so when you get there, it isn’t crowded like so many beaches. It was lovely and we had a good time.

  3. Deanna says:

    It is illegal to take glass from Glass Beach accoding to the visitor center in Ft. Bragg. That may be why, according to a previous post, that it is unsafe going there. Please research, again. Save Glass Beach. Quit advertising that it is ok to steal.

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