Hi there BeachBums!
After two long days on the road, I arrived in Ft.Bragg CA to kick off this beach hopping trip with a visit to Glass Beach. WOW! It did not disappoint. There is glass everywhere, making up almost half of the beach. The most common color is clear which has been buffeted to an opaque white. Then brown and green make up most of the rest. The pieces were a lot smaller than I imagined, but there are some really pretty ones amongst them; clear ones that look like bubbles and gleam in the sunlight when wet were my favourite.
I didn’t see any of the much-coveted cobalt blue glass, at least not with my naked eye; I did, however, see a nice chunk of it in a little video I made when watching it back. Totally missed it at the time though.
I have read online that, since early 2015, it has been illegal to remove glass from the beach although that didn’t seem to stop anyone. Almost everyone I saw combing through the glass had a plastic baggie they were adding pieces to. The reasoning is, there won’t be any glass left for people to come see if everyone keeps taking it. I don’t buy that though – there is so much of it and more gets uncovered every time the tide leaves. Technically it is garbage (the town used that part of the sea as a dump for decades) so now it is illegal to remove garbage from the beach? Also, everything from the high tide line down to the water is public property and no one can stop you from beachcombing it. Anyway, remove glass at your own risk!
Here are my suggestions for a successful visit to Glass Beach:
- check the tide charts for the area on line and go as close to low tide as you can, you will have access to much more beach and thus, glass
- wear sturdy shoes with socks; if you don’t wear socks, the sand and pebbles you are sure to get in your shoes will drive you crazy – ask me how I know this (I wore Sketcher Marines without socks and regretted it but fortunately had a pair in my car which I had to walk back and put on)
- the path to the beach area is well marked and flat but getting down to the beach itself is a bit tricky; walk around to the right side and you will find it much easier to get down. take a walking pole or a sturdy stick if you are at all unsteady and you will do fine
- wear gardening gloves, or the equivalent if you have nice nails you’d like to keep nice and you plan to do some serious hunting below the top layer
- better yet, take a kids plastic rake, the kind with a longer handle to save your back. trust me, your back will thank you
- when you walk around to the right side of the rim of the beach before descending, if you look to your right (or behind you if you are facing down one of the paths) you will see another beach. this beach has better and more glass – hardly anyone goes there (until you do THEN they will come, like sheep) so it is not nearly as picked over and you will find some nice, larger pieces
- take a bottle of water or something cold to drink; it is thirsty work, let me tell you!
- keep your eye on the tide, it comes in very fast and you might get wet or, worse, trapped on the left side of the beach, past the rocks
- the main beach that the signs point to is actually Glass Beach #3. The #2 beach is challenging to get to so no one goes there, thus there is much much more glass and the way #3 used to be a few years ago before people started removing it by literally bucketfuls at a time. I will write more about it in a future post.
Low tide was at 3:30am and 2:30pm the day I went. I wanted to be there before everyone else so dragged my beachbum out of bed and arrived at dawn – around 5:30am – and I was the only one there for a good hour. I stayed until 11am. In the afternoon I went up the road a short way north to Pudding Beach, which is huge, and used my brand new metal detector. But that is for another post.
There is decent cell phone reception before descending to the beach itself, and then once you walk to where it narrows, it is gone so forget about face-timing your mom or bestie to show them what they’re missing.
Love and happy glass hunting,