California is such a beautiful state with diverse terrain: mountains, beaches, and sprawling cities. It is also a great place to find sea glass. California is home to 840 miles of coastline, so you have ample opportunities to find sea glass. Most California beaches have had sea glass found on them, so you really cannot go wrong on any beach in the state. Plus, the beaches are truly beautiful.
Last time I visited California, driving the Pacific Coast Highway and looking at all the spectacular views was my favorite part of the whole trip. The beaches in southern California are so beautiful and always full of people having a relaxing time. I found many pieces of sea glass while visiting the area, and I know you will, too!
- 1. Muir Beach – Quiet and Clean
- 2. Davenport Beach – Post Storms
- 3. Shell Beach – in La Jolla
- 4. Crystal Cove Beach – State Park
- 5. Carbon Beach – $$
- 6. Moonstone Beach – Brown Gravely Sand
- 7. Little Corona Del Mar Beach – Locals Only
- Sea Glass History
- Is It Legal to Collect Sea Glass in California?
- Why Are Some Beaches Better for Finding Sea Glass?
- Do I Need Any Tools to Find Sea Glass?
- Tips For Finding Sea Glass
- How Much Sea Glass Can I Take Home?
- What Can I Do with My Sea Glass?
- Beach Wanderings
1. Muir Beach – Quiet and Clean
West of Muir Woods National Monument in Marin County lies Muir Beach. This is a quiet, clean beach visited mostly by locals. Muir Beach Overlook gives fantastic views of the beach and surrounding areas.
It is not for those who are afraid of heights, however. From this vantage point you can see whale migrations during the winter months. Parking is free and the Pacific Way Bridge leads from the parking area to the beach.
Where to Look for Sea Glass on Muir Beach
Sea glass is mostly found near the surf or in areas with pebbles or rocks. Look for any of these areas for your best chance to find sea glass on Muir Beach. Be mindful of the Redwood Creek Lagoon nearby which is a thriving area for salmon and red-legged frogs.
2. Davenport Beach – Post Storms
Davenport Beach is in Davenport, a small town north of Santa Cruz. This beach is famous for its sea glass finds. After storms, many new pieces of sea glass wash up. Many of these pieces come from the nearby Lundberg Art Studio. This is a manufacturer of glass and sometimes pieces fall into the ocean.
Where to Look for Sea Glass on Davenport Beach
Most of the sea glass on this beach requires a wetsuit to find. They are found in an area known as “the pit,” in the waves. You can also check near the shoreline and look for areas of rocks and pebbles where sea glass may get caught.
Insider Tip: To see some truly spectacular sea glass, visit Fort Bragg Glass Beach in Mendocino County, just south of MacKerricher State Park. The highest concentration of sea glass in California can be found here.
Keep in mind, you are not allowed to take any sea glass from this location, so enjoy the view only! You can also visit the International Sea Glass Museum to see thousands of pieces of sea glass or purchase souvenirs. Learn more about Glass Beach here: https://www.californiabeaches.com/beach/glass-beach/
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3. Shell Beach – in La Jolla
Shell beach lies in beautiful La Jolla. As the name suggests, this area is fantastic for finding sea shells. You can also find sea glass here. This beach can be difficult to find if you do not know where to look. There is a sign on the coastal walkway south of La Jolla Cove.
Where to Look for Sea Glass on Shell Beach
There are multiple tide pools on Shell Beach. During low tide, these are easy to reach, and sea glass can be found in them occasionally. Check areas with rocks and pebbles and search the shoreline.
4. Crystal Cove Beach – State Park
Crystal Cove Beach is in Orange County, on the border of Newport and Laguna. This beach is part of Crystal Cove State Park. The area is known for hiking trails and the Historic District featuring cottages from the 1930s where you can stay overnight. Sea glass is abundant from the early Historic District residents.
Where to Find Sea Glass on Crystal Cove Beach
The shoreline is the best place to find sea glass on Crystal Cove Beach. There are also some areas with rocks and pebbles where glass may have washed ashore.
5. Carbon Beach – $$
Carbon Beach is also known as “Billionaire’s Beach.” This beach is in Malibu and surrounded by large homes. This is a public beach and is often less crowded than the more popular Malibu beaches. Parking is free along the Pacific Coast Highway.
Where to Find Sea Glass on Carbon Beach
The surf is the best place to find sea glass on Carbon Beach. Check during low tide so more beach is exposed for you to search. Any area with rocks may have some sea glass mixed in with the pebbles.
6. Moonstone Beach – Brown Gravely Sand
Moonstone Beach is in Cambria, along the picturesque Central California Coast. Brown sandy coves and unique rock bluffs resemble moon rocks, hence the name. The beach can be accessed from the Santa Rosa Creek day use area or the Leffingwell Landing day use area. The area has restaurants and hotels, along with shopping opportunities.
Where to Find Sea Glass on Moonstone Beach
The rocky areas and shoreline, as with all beaches, will be the best locations to find sea glass. Sea glass could be mixed in with the rocks, so check thoroughly. Go during low tide or after a storm for the best chances.
7. Little Corona Del Mar Beach – Locals Only
Little Corona Del Mar Beach is found in Newport Beach and is a lovely small beach frequented by locals. This rocky cove area is popular with scuba divers and snorkelers. There are multiple tide pools just north and south of the beach. Arch Rock is a pyramid shaped rock off the shore to the south.
Where to Find Sea Glass on Little Corona Del Mar Beach
Check near the water’s edge and near any rocks or pebbles. Check the tide pools during low tide to see if any sea glass washed into the pools. Be mindful of any fish or wildlife in the tide pools.
Sea Glass History
Sea glass has been washing up on beaches worldwide for centuries. Sea glass begins life as traditional glass: jars, mugs, plates, vehicle glass, and the like. As the glass tumbles in the ocean, it is smoothed, and a frosted look is created, by the tides, rocks, sand, and chemical compounds found in sea water.
The glass eventually finds its way to a beach and washes ashore. Years and years of glass making, and refuse being dumped into the ocean has created millions of pieces of sea glass. It is getting harder to find as more people search for sea glass.
Sea glass is fascinating to think about. What did this small shard of glass originate from? How long has it been in the sea? What country did it come from? The possibilities are endless. It could be you find a piece of glass that was once held by Leonardo Da Vinci, or even the Ancient Egyptians (fun fact: Ancient Egyptians produced hollow glass containers for oils and ointments as far back as 1500 BCE).
Is It Legal to Collect Sea Glass in California?
Yes, collecting sea glass is legal in the state of California. There are some exceptions, however. Fort Bragg Glass Beach forbids the removal of any sea glass. Although the beach contains millions of pieces of sea glass, it is important to resist the urge to snag one or two. This can ruin sea glass collecting for everyone. There will be signage in any area where collecting sea glass is illegal in California.
Why Are Some Beaches Better for Finding Sea Glass?
Beaches that have rocky or pebbly areas are best for finding sea glass. The glass washes into these areas with the tide or following a storm. The glass gets caught up in the pebbles and stones and does not wash back out into the ocean. This is why rocky or pebbly areas or beaches are best for finding sea glass.
Sandy beaches will still have some sea glass, but you may have to look harder. The sand may wash over the top of the glass, obscuring it. In these areas, check after a storm to see if anything washed up onto the sand.
Insider Tip: Check beaches during the off season. In California, many southern beaches are usable year-round. In northern California, it is colder, so the beaches will be less populated.
Winter months will allow you to search for sea glass without a lot of people around. You will find more glass and have the beach basically to yourself! To learn more about California Beaches, click here 👉 https://www.visitcalifornia.com/experience/what-you-need-know-about-visiting-california-beaches/
Do I Need Any Tools to Find Sea Glass?
No! One of the best things about hunting sea glass is it requires no special tools. You may, however, want to take along a pouch or sack of some kind to keep any glass you find safe. Some people use a small hand trowel to lift rocks and search for glass. Others use a sand scoop or kitty litter scoop to filter the sand leaving the glass behind. None of this is required but can make it easier to find sea glass.
Tips For Finding Sea Glass
When searching for sea glass, remember these few tips. Checking the tide reports is one of your best options for finding glass. Low tides expose more of the beach and give you new opportunities to hunt areas previously underwater.
Check after storms. Storms bring in crashing waves and along with those, more debris from deeper in the ocean. Sea glass is often found in higher quantities after storms. You can also check during the off season, and winter months, for a better chance of finding sea glass as the beaches are not as populated.
Lastly, the best times of day to search for sea glass is just after sunrise or before sunset. The sun is lower in the sky, which provides a good angle to see the glass in comparison to the rocks or sand.
How Much Sea Glass Can I Take Home?
Sea glass is essentially liter, although polished and shiny litter. Most areas do not have a limit on how much sea glass you can remove. If you are ever in question, you can contact the local governing agencies and ask them to make sure you are within the law.
What Can I Do with My Sea Glass?
There are so many options for using sea glass. It is a great option for decorating and in crafts. One thing I like to do with sea glass is fill a tall jar with sea glass and put a candle or plant in the jar. The sea glass gives the jar a beautiful look and makes for a unique decoration.
You can also make jewelry with sea glass. Bracelets made of sea glass are unique and beautiful gifts. You can also make earrings or necklaces with sea glass. Each piece will be different.
One use of sea glass I find particularly interesting is to use it for a mosaic. You use them similarly to mosaic tiles. These make for unique stepping stones or wall art.
For more ideas on using sea glass, click here: https://rockseeker.com/things-to-do-with-sea-glass/
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Sea glass is a wonderful treasure and can be found globally. Sunny California is no exception. The beaches are open year-round, and you will have spectacular views while searching for sea glass.
Be sure you look for any signage prohibiting sea glass collecting. Never take any glass from Fort Bragg Glass Beach, as this is restricted. Always be respectful when hunting sea glass and enjoy the scenery!
Malory Ericksen discovered metal detecting in 2015, initially unearthing nails and pull tabs in Idaho. The finding of an old railroad tie cemented her passion for the hobby. Now in Utah, she delights in uncovering historical treasures, driven by her love for history.
Read Malory’s complete bio 👉 About Malory Ericksen