Walking on glass pieces may not be your ideal choice for a perfect seaside stroll, but when you want to experience an interesting variety, sea glass beaches are a must-see. Visitors here bent over their pails to gather colorful sea glass, instead of seashells. These unique treasures are formed from glass junk tossed into the sea from decades ago and were broken and tumbled by waves and currents until they become gem-like. There are many sea glass beaches around the world, but some of the famous ones can be found in the US.
1. Fort Bragg Sea Glass Beach, California
Located on the coast just eight miles north of Mendocino County in Northern California, Fort Bragg’s Glass beach is completely covered in sea glass debris. It is considered to have the largest concentration of sea glass in the world. The place is now a tourist destination, but for years it has been called “The Dump.”
The earlier residents of Fort Bragg had no refuse collection, so they found the nearby sea as a garbage solution. In the early 1900s, Fort Bragg residents established a water dump site onto what’s known today as the “Site 1.” Generation after generation has thrown over their glass, appliances or even vehicles unto the sea. They were throwing their garbage over the edge of the cliffs above the beach, which obviously was more convenient and fun than the common method of taking out the trash.
Once their dump was filled, they moved into the now “Site 2” and “Site 3,” until 1967. That time, the city leaders decided to close the area and banned the throwing of garbage in the beach. Various cleanup programs were made, but much of the glass still made its way to the shore and became smaller, smoother, translucent colored pieces that often become jewelry quality.
In 2002, the Glass Beach was incorporated into the surrounding MacKerricher State Park. Most of Site 3 was part of the state park, and collecting sea glass is prohibited here. You can legally collect sea glass from Site 1 and Site 2.
2. Eleele Glass Beach, Hawaii
This glass beach can be found in Eleele, an industrial area in Hanapepe Bay, which is located in Kauai Island, Hawaii. Beachcombers can find millions of glass pebbles in blue, brown, green, aqua and red. If you look diligently, you would find some jelly-bean shaped rare colored sea glass like teal, yellow and sea foam. This sea glass originated mainly from broken bottles and auto glass dumped by the nearby Swiss Cheese Shoreline.
The beach view, however, wasn’t impressive, as several tanks are overlooking on side of the beach. You also can’t go swimming here, because the rocks would make it dangerous. But for the sea glass collectors, this place is a bonanza.
3. Cayucos Sea Glass Beach, California
Cayucos, a beach town in California, boasts of its sea glass beach where you can find beautifully colored glass shards great for collecting and making accessories. The small town is located about three and thirty minutes north of Los Angeles.
Tourists travel to Cayucos for its annual Sea Glass Festival every March, where local artisan goods made of sea glass, as well as sea glass crafts and jewelry, are displayed and sold. They also come to enjoy food and live music, all the while appreciating the beauty of sea glass art.
4. Benicia Glass Beach, California
Benicia is a charming little waterside town in northern San Francisco Bay Area. The glass beach is the place to go, besides its artisanal restaurants, cafes and bay views. It is located at the 12th Street Park in Carquinez Strait. Like most glass beaches, this was a product of years and years of garbage dumping along the coastline.
However, visitors are warned that much of the glass may have sharp edges, so it’s best to wear thick, sturdy shoes. The little water movement in the Carquinez Strait did not weather the sea glass enough to make its edges round and smooth, like the sea glasses found in other beaches. Sea glass here is also thicker and not that frosty.
5. Davenport Beach, California
If you’re looking for multicolored sea glass shards, there’s no other place to search than Davenport Beach. The shore, which is located in the northern Santa Cruz County, is home to the one of the most exotic sea glass in the world, ranging from colors white, red, yellow, lilac, turquoise, green, blue – and some with striped or gradient designs.
The colorful sea glass in Davenport came from Lundberg Studios, a glass company that specializes in top quality glassware. During the 1970s, a heavy rainstorm caused the San Vicente Creek to overflow, washing away bins of broken glass dumped by the company.