North Carolina beaches are perfect for sea glass

7 Best Beaches to Find Sea Glass in North Carolina

North Carolina has a staggering 3,375 miles of coastline, and over 25 beaches to explore. It is one of my favorite states to hunt for treasures. I like to metal detect here, but also search the beaches for various kinds of treasures. Not only is the scenery breathtaking, but the beaches are clean, and the water is pristine.

While enjoying the beaches of North Carolina, try finding some sea glass! Sea glass is a great treasure to take home with you and can be found on nearly all beaches in the state. You can also find millions of sea shells washed ashore, and some relics from shipwrecks, too!

A day on Avon Beach NC picking sea glass
A day on Avon Beach NC picking sea glass

1. Avon Beach – A Perfect Beach

Avon Beach is a picturesque beach on the Outer Banks with wide shorelines and pristine waters. Some of the best sea glass hunting in the entire state is on Avon Beach. Avon is a small village with rental vacation homes, restaurants, shopping opportunities, and beach rental stores. Located on the southern edge of Hatteras Island, sea glass is abundant amid the colorful pebbles and sea shells that wash ashore.

Where to Look For Sea Glass on Avon Beach

One pro tip for finding sea glass on any beach is to find areas with rocks and pebbles. Sea glass washes ashore and gets caught in the pebbles so you can easily find it among the duller stones. On Avon beach, look for any areas with pebbles and stones. Look along the edge of the water, too.

Insider Tip: While visiting Avon, check out the Avon Fishing Pier. This was built by two local brothers and stretches 655 feet into the Atlantic Ocean. This pier is the only remaining operational pier in Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Learn more here:

2. Pea Island – Sea Life and Glass!

Pea Island is a wonderful place to hunt for sea glass, sea shells, and shark teeth. Located on the Outer Banks, Pea Island is home to a multitude of natural beauty including oysters, calico scallops, giant cockles, and crabs.

Where to Look for Sea Glass on Pea Island

Pea Island is littered with pebbles, stones, and other treasures. You can find sea glass throughout the beach here. Check carefully as some of the glass is mixed in with the stones and pebbles. Check the shoreline, too. You may find some shark teeth and interesting shells while you hunt for sea glass on Pea Island!

Pea Island Beach for Sea Glass - parking and access
Pea Island Beach for Sea Glass – parking and access – image Google Maps – link

3. Hatteras Beach – Historic

Hatteras Beach has miles of shoreline to explore along with some beautiful scenery to enjoy. Across the street from the beach, you will find the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum. This unique museum offers lots of information about shipwrecks, and all exhibits are donated. Hatteras Beach is completely littered with sea shells, sand dollars, and some sea glass mixed in among them.

Where to Look for Sea Glass on Hatteras Beach

Look near the shoreline for freshly washed-up sea glass. There will also be pieces mixed in with the hundreds of thousands of shells washed ashore. You may even find small chunks of dead coral on Hatteras Beach.

4. Frisco Beach – National SeA Shore

Frisco Beach is on Cape Hatteras Island National Seashore. This beach is ideal for photographers and naturalists. The waters here are warmer than northern beaches due to the Gulf Stream. The beach features changing rooms, restrooms, and showers, a fish line recycling station and a bathhouse.

Where to Look for Sea Glass on Frisco Beach

Wait for low tide and search near the shoreline. This opens more beach to look for sea glass. The beach is also littered with sea shells to collect and admire.

5. Salvo Beach – Great Beach Access

Salvo Beach is one of the best places to hunt sea glass in North Carolina. Three villages lie near the beach, giving visitors access to shopping, hotels, restaurants, and beautiful scenery. There are several access points along Salvo Beach, so give each one a gander on your search!

Where to Look for Sea Glass on Salvo Beach

Access Ramp 23 and 25 are areas where not much sea glass is found. Access Ramp 27 has yielded some sea glass finds. Access Ramp 30 has more sea shells than sea glass but is still worth a look. All the access ramps may have some sea glass, but it is most found near Ramp 27. Check rocky areas and near the shoreline.

6. Coquina Beach – Lots of Beach Activities

Coquina Beach is also located on the Outer Banks near the towns of Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, and Kill Devil Hills. Beachcombers love this beach for collecting sea glass and sea shells. This beach was named for the colorful coquina clams that are common in the area. Coquina Beach is a wonderful place for fishing, surfing, and has 4WD access with a permit.

Where to Look for Sea Glass on Coquina Beach

Check any areas with rocks or pebbles for a good chance of finding sea glass. You can also collect numerous types of sea shells on this beach. Check near the water’s edge, too.

Insider Tip: While visiting Coquina Beach, head into Kitty Hawk and visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial. Here you can learn about the origins of flight, the Wright Brothers persistence in making flight possible, and enjoy other nearby attractions. Learn more about the Wright Brothers National Memorial here:

7. Buxton Beach – Beautiful Sunsets

Buxton Beach is on the Outer Banks, between Cape Hatteras National Seashore and the village. The beach has sand dunes and beach grass along with clear water. It is easily accessible year-round, giving visitors a magnificent view during sunrise and sunset. The area is rich with artifacts and sea glass.

Where to Look for Sea Glass on Buxton Beach

As always, check near the shoreline. This beach is near many old shipwreck sites, so relics wash ashore frequently. While searching the surf line for sea glass, check for pottery shards, marble pieces, jewelry, and buttons, too! Any areas with rocks or pebbles will also be a beautiful place to look for sea glass.

Why is Sea Glass So Beautiful?

Sea glass refers to small pieces of glass found along ocean beaches but can also be found near rivers and lakes. Sea glass is broken glass that is weathered chemically and physically from the constant tumbling around the ocean over decades. Sea glass and beach glass are often used interchangeably, but sea glass technically comes from salt water sources while beach glass comes from freshwater sources.

Beautiful Sea Glass
Beautiful Sea Glass

Sea glass can be found worldwide but is most found on beaches in the United States, northern England, Puerto Rico, Italy, Australia, and Mexico. Sea glass starts out as discarded glass items like bottles, dishes, household items, and items lost in shipwrecks or natural disasters.

Learn more about sea glass here:

Why Are Some Beaches Better for Finding Sea Glass?

Sea glass does not wash ashore at all beaches. Even if it does, it may not stay on the sandy shores. Beaches with rocks or pebbles are easier to find sea glass in because the sea glass pieces get caught in the rocks and do not wash back out to sea. Areas with just sand can cause the sea glass to become buried by more sand.

The ocean currents also affect the distribution of sea glass. Areas where the current pushes strongly toward shore will have a greater chance of having sea glass. Beaches where large storms occur also have a higher chance of having sea glass on them. Storms churn up the ocean floor and can move massive amounts of sand and water. This helps sea glass wash ashore.

Is It Legal to Collect Sea Glass In North Carolina?

There are no laws on the books in North Carolina prohibiting sea glass hunting. If you are in an area where the activity is forbidden, there will be signage indicating this. Be sure to avoid private property and any federal land while hunting for sea glass unless you have prior permission to search the area. Always be respectful and mindful of your surrounding while hunting for sea glass in North Carolina (or anywhere else).

Tips for Finding Sea Glass

Checking the beach after a storm is one of the top tips for finding sea glass. Storms churn up the ocean water and sea floor, making more debris flow onto the beaches. The shoreline is constantly being changed from the ocean waves, so keep searching near the shorelines!

Another great tip is to hunt at sunrise or sunset. The sun will be lower in the sky and helps to differentiate the rocks from the sea glass. Sea glass has a frosted appearance and can be difficult to spot among the rocks.

Search for sea glass during low tide. Check the tide charts for your local area before heading out. Low tide exposes more of the beach, and gives you access to more search areas.

Patience and persistence are the last tip! You may not find sea glass each time you search the beaches. More people are taking up the hobby of finding sea glass, so it is becoming more difficult to find. Look for beaches that are less popular and go during the off season.

Tools for Finding Sea Glass

While there are technically no tools required to find sea glass, I like to take a few things along with me. Firstly, a kitty litter scoop. I know, this sounds odd, but bear with me. A kitty litter scoop has small cutouts designed to separate the litter from the waste in a cat’s litter box.

These cutouts are perfect for filtering out sand while leaving any sea shells, stones, or sea glass behind. It makes it much easier to sift through the sand with a kitty litter scoop.

You can also use a sand scoop commonly used for metal detecting. They are the same concept as the cat box scoop, but often cost much more. You can pick up a kitty litter scoop at the local dollar store.

Using a sand scoop for sea glass
Using a sand scoop for sea glass

Another item I take when hunting sea glass is a pouch to carry my finds in. There are pouches sold for metal detecting which work perfectly for this. You can also use a fanny pack (they are back in style. Hooray!), backpack, or a sack. Anything that will keep your sea glass safe while you walk around will do fine.

If you are searching in an area with lots of rocks, you may want some waterproof shoes with a grippy sole. Stones underwater get slimy and become very slippery. You may slip and hurt yourself. Shoes with a good grip will help you keep your footing while you search for sea glass.

Insider Tip: When picking up sea glass, think about all the wonderful crafts you can create with this unique find. You can make home décor, jewelry, and yard decorations all with sea glass. For ideas on what to do with your sea glass, click here:

Beach Wanderings

North Carolina is a picturesque state with unbeatable views and pristine beaches. While exploring this beautiful state, visit one of the many beaches and look for some sea glass. Sea glass is a perfect treasure to take home on a trip to North Carolina! You can also find countless sea shells and maybe some relics from old shipwrecks. The possibilities are endless!

Sea glass can be used in a variety of ways for decorative purposes or jewelry making. You could make yourself a special treasure from your visit to this beautiful state! Sea glass hunting is a terrific way to spend some time outdoors enjoying the beautiful Atlantic coastlines!

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

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