Many beaches around the world contain sea glass. The best sea glass beaches are usually located where people have dumped a lot of trash nearby or there has been a lot of shipping traffic, especially over the past couple centuries.
You’re also more likely to find sea glass on a beach where a river or stream runs into the ocean. In populated areas along river and streams, trash has been tossed into the water and much of it makes its way to the ocean where the glass turns into sea glass.
Some Beaches Have Reputations for Their Abundance of Sea Glass
Beaches on the northeast coasts in the United States, some beaches in northern California, Oregon, and Washington, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Nova Scotia, Australia, Italy, northwest England and southern Spain are famous for their bounty of sea glass.
Best Beaches in California to Hunt for Sea Glass
Just eight miles north of Mendocino, a beautiful coastline along Fort Bragg holds many sea glass treasures. For several years, the locals dumped their trash and even their old cars and appliances over the bluffs onto their beaches. Even though the city began cleanup programs in 1967, much of the glass still made its way to the shore to become the smaller translucent colored pieces of sea glass that cover the shore today.
A lot of the sea glass has been carted away by collectors, but quite a bit still remains on the shore. The best known place for collecting sea glass is Glass Beach, which is located inside MacKerricher State Park. You can enter Glass Beach from Elm Street and Glass Beach Drive. However, much of the sea glass on the northern section of Glass Beach has been taken, but you can still find the sea glass south of Elm Street outside the boundaries of MacKerricher Park.
Because of the popularity of the beach for sea glass collectors, the California State Park became concerned over diminishing sea glass and has discouraged the practice of taking it. Some people say it’s illegal now to collect sea glass from Fort Bragg, but others say that because California beaches are public, it’s okay to collect it up to the mean high water mark.
If you decide to go to Fort Bragg to collect sea glass, be sure to check with the California Department of Parks and Recreation to find out where it’s appropriate to collect sea glass. Make sure to respect the rules and surrounding private properties to get to the beaches. If you just want to collect a few good specimens and you follow the rules, you should have a pleasant sea glass hunting trip in Fort Bragg.
Update: In August 2014, the city of Fort Bragg began its Coastal Restoration Project. The grand opening of the area above Glass Beach is scheduled for August 2015. Before you make plans to visit Glass Beach, be sure to check the city’s Coastal Trail updates.
Glass Beach in Benicia, California
Another glass beach with a high concentration of sea glass is Benicia in northern California. According to Wikipedia, the beach is located in Benicia, California off the 12th Street Park. Some locals have reported the beach is off Elane Way and Cove Way. Look for Public Access sign and follow to water.
Be warned, however, that much of the glass has sharp edges, so wear sturdy shoes. Much of the sea glass is not weathered with smooth round edges because the beach is located in Carquinez Strait, which is basically a bay with little wave activity. Beaches with the best sea glass have a decent amount of wave activity because the movement of the water acts like a giant tumbling machine and helps toss and turn the glass into frosty sea glass with rounded edges.
You should also check San Francisco tide times and go at low tide when the sea glass is exposed on the shore.
Best Glass Beach in Hawaii is on the Island of Kauai
Another Beach where you’ll be sure to find a high concentration of sea glass is Glass Beach on the Island of Kauai in Eleele. The sea glass has been picked over; however, there is still a lot on the beach.
Glass Beach in Kauai is surrounded by an industrial area, but it’s still a beautiful beach with a lot of small white and brown sea glass shards. If you look diligently, you will likely find some jelly bean shaped and rare colored sea glass like, yellow, sea foam and teal.
To get to Glass Beach in Kauai, head towards Port Allen. Turn left on Waialo Road, and turn left onto Aka Ula Road. Drive until you come to a dirt road. Park and walk a few steps to the beach.
Rancho Palos Verdes Beach
Los Angeles’s best keep secret is Rancho Palos Verdes Beach, and yes, you can find sea glass there too, especially after a storm. The beach is stunning, but best of all the parking is free in the Trump National Golf Course. The city of Rancho Palos Verdes made a deal that parts of the golf course must be open to the public. The parking lot is small, so if you’re planning a trip on a weekend summer day, be sure to go early.
If you’re planning a sea glass hunt just follow the trail down to the beach. It’s a little steep in a few places. When you get down to the beach, go to the left and start looking for sea glass among the rocks during low tide. The sea glass is not as abundant compared to other beaches, but it’s there.
Besides enjoying a good sea glass hunt, the beach is also excellent for a fun family day at the beach or a romantic get away. The sand is a little rocky, but it’s still smooth enough to lay down a towel and enjoy relaxing in the sun by the sea.
Kids will enjoy the waves and the tide pools. There’s also plenty of colorful rocks where you’ll be sure to see a few little sea creatures.
Summerland in Santa Barbara, California
One of the best beaches to find sea glass is in Summerland, California. Summerland is located of the 101 Freeway in Santa Barbara county. The beach is also for dog lovers too. In the early morning and at low tide, you’ll be sure to see a lot of happy dogs walking the shore and you’ll be sure to find some sea glass.
Check the Tides for Summerland
To find the most sea glass, make sure to check the tides. Go at low tide, but be sure to not to get stuck when the high tides come in. A lot of the sea glass is along the high-tide point, especially where there are a lot of small rocks.
Beautiful Sea Glass Beach
To get to Summerland, take Exit 88 from the 101 Freeway. Head west, and turn right down Padaro Lane. You’ll drive along a residential neighborhood on a narrow street for a while. When you see the sign for Loon Point, turn right into the public parking lot. Take a short path to the ocean, and at the end of the path, go left.
Long Stretch of Beach and Sea Glass
Del Monte Beach, Monterey, California
Many beachcombers know that Monterey beaches are one of the best places to find sea glass. Del Monte Beach in Monterey, California is a long stretch of beach where you’ll be sure to find sea glass. The beach is named after the historic Del Monte Resort, and it’s located west of Del Monte Avenue.
Other Sea Glass Beaches
Here are some other beaches where you’ll likely find sea glass. I’ve gathered the information from websites, articles and comments around the Internet. I haven’t thoroughly researched or verified all of them, but I plan on finding out more information or hopefully visting as many as I can in the future.
Keep in mind that sea glass beaches can be fickle. I’ve gone to beaches and have found a nice amount sea glass on one day. Then I’ve returned to the same beaches on another day or even the next day only to find little sea glass or nothing at all. Sometimes I think some days the sea glass gods just want to hold on to those little treasures. 🙂
The best time to find sea glass is early in the morning during low tide. You will also likely find more sea glass during morning low tide times after a storm. Beaches near bluffs and rocky beaches with coarse sand are usually better for sea glass hunting.
A number of sea glass beaches are located in the United States along its coasts.
- La Jolla, California – Check out pictures of sea glass from my trip to La Jolla, California in June 2012.
- El Matador State Beach in Malibu California
- Many Northern California beaches like Santa Cruz, Monterey, Benicia, Pillar Point (Northern End and you have to climb down cliffs), Aptos and Fort Bragg and Pismo Beach-Shell Beach have been reported as having sea glass.
- Redondo Beach, California near Palos Verdes Estates
- Summerland Beach in Santa Barbara
- People have reported finding sea glass on beaches in Orange County from Laguna Beach to Newport Beach.
- Andrew Molera State Park, Big Sur. People have reported finding sea glass on and other treasures. May involve some serious hiking.
- Monterey Waterfront from Canary Road to Lover’s point- 1.25 miles.
- Oxnard Beach
- Pacifica, CA–located near San Francisco
- Rio Del Mar, Aptos–Rio Del Mar is located a little south from Santa Cruz.
- Capistrano Beach
- East Lyme, Connecticut
- Hammonasset Beach State Park, Madison, Connecticut
- Noank, Connecticut
- Jacksonville, Florida
- Hannah Park Beach
- St. Augustine
- Arcadia National Park in Maire: Sand Beach and Frenchman’s Bay
- Bar Harbor, Maine
- Belfast, Maine
- Casco Bay Islands, Maine
- Cranberry Islands, Maine
- East End Beach, Long Island, Maine
- Jasper Beach, Machiasport, Maine
- Jonesport, Maine
- Land’s End near Maine
- Mackerel Cove, Near Bailey Island, Maine
- Middle Beach, Kennebunk, York, Maine
- Monhegan Island, Maine
- Mount Desert Island, Maine
- Roque Bluffs State Park, Roque Bluffs, Maine
- Spectacle Island (It’s forbidden to take sea glass from this beach)
Note on sea glass beaches in Maine: I’ve seen it said in several places around the Web that the best times to find sea glass on Maine beaches are at low tide and after storms.
- Deal Island, Maryland
- Kent County, Maryland
- Tolchester Beach near Chestertown on the Eastern Shore, Maryland
- Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts (Southwestern Shores)
- Cape Ann, Rockfort, Massachusetts
- Gloucester, Massachusetts
- Lambert’s Cove Beach
Pavilion Beach, Ipswich, Massachusetts
- New Beford, Massachusetts
- Spectacle Island, Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts
- Empire Beach, Lake Michigan Drive, Lake Michigan, MI
- Bay Head, New Jersey
- Cape May, New Jersey
- Long Beach Island, New Jersey
- Astoria, Oregon
- Bayocean Peninsula on Tillamook Bay, Oregon
- Brookings, Oregon – Mill Beach
- Gold Beach, Oregon
- McVay Rock State Recreation
- Newport, Oregon
- Oceanside, Oregon
- Seal Point, Oregon
- Lincoln City, Oregon
- Middletown, Rhode Island
- Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island
- Block Island, Rhode Island
- King Park Beach at Newport Harbor, Rhode Island
- East Matunuck State Beach, South Kingston, Rhode Island
- Corpus Christi, Texas
- Crystal Beach, Texas
- Galveston, Texas
- Port Arthur, Texas
- Surfside Beach, Texas
- Cape Charles, Virginia
- Chesapeake Bay, Virginia
- Hampton, Virginia
- Alki Beach Park, Alki Avenue Southwest, Seattle, Washington State (northeast section of beach)
- Anacortes, Washington State
- Deception Pass State Park, Oak Harbor, Washington State
- Glass Beach, Port Townsend, Washington State
- Port Angeles, Washington State
- Port Townsend, Washington State
- Puget Sound Islands, Washington State
- Rosario Beach, Fidalgo Island, Washington State
- Strait of Juan de Fuca, Washington State
Sea Glass Beaches Outside the United States
Thirteenth Beach, Barwon Heads, Australia
- Port Dover Beach, Ontario, Canada
- Alexandra Battery Beach, Bermuda
- Bermuda Island, Hamilton, St.George’s, Bermuda, Corner of Cochran and Malibar Road
- Black Bay Beach, Bermuda
- Building Bay, Bermuda
- Kings Wharf, Bermuda
- Somerset Village
- Abaco Islands, Bahamas
- Mullins Beach, Barbados
- Prince Edward’s Island, Canada
- Nova Scotia, Canada
- Okinawa, Japan
- Playa Media Luna, Isla De Mujeres, north of Cancun, Mexico
- Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles
- Antonio’s Beach to River Mouth Beach in Puntas, Rincon, Puerto Rico
- Vieques, Puerto Rico