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Finding sea glass, colorful pieces of glass that have tumbled naturally in the ocean surf, is one of the best rewards of beachcombing. Like finding seashells, sand dollars, agates, and driftwood, sea glass is a beautiful treasure.

Knowing when and where to look for the glass is important. In addition to looking in the main part of the beach (especially pebbly beaches), you might have luck checking in nooks and crannies of fixed rocks, in creek beds, and at the ends of the beach. Often times they are in the surf getting rolled around, but be careful near the waves if you look there. Low tide is typically the best time to search (check tide tables).

If you find sea glass we recommend that you leave it at the beach (take pictures) or remove no more than one piece for yourself. Note that it is illegal to take any glass if you find signage prohibiting it.

The best beaches with sea glass are old trash dump sites along the coast. It’s hard to believe but people used to dump their garbage on the shores of our beautiful beaches. In some cases it was dumped behind the beach or dunes, but erosion moved the beach to where the trash was dumped in years prior.

Glass Beach and Sand City Beach are the best examples of garbage dump sites that have turned into sea glass. The former has smaller pieces of glass that are very well tumbled (see pictures), and the latter has larger glass chunks that can be smooth and even sharp still.

Glass Beach in Fort Bragg

At other beaches where sea glass is commonly found (see the list below), they may not have been a dumping spot per se, but bottles left at the beach (or tossed from the bluff) over time were smashed on rocks and then churned in the surf.

White/clear, green, and brown colors are most common (typical bottle glass), but sometimes you’ll find shades of blue and even red sea glass. Colors like yellow, orange and purple are much less common so they are quite a treasure when found.

No matter how the glass got there, it’s amazing that Mother Nature knows how to make it pretty and get rid of the sharp edges.

Below are beaches where sea glass is often found. They are listed south to north.