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You Won’t Believe How Much Sea Glass You Can STILL Find at Glass Beach

Imagine strolling along a beach where the sand glitters with colorful gems.

This isn’t a fantasy – it’s Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, where nature has transformed yesterday’s trash into beautiful sea glass. 

If you’ve ever dreamed of hunting for sea glass or wondered about this unique coastal wonder, you’re in for a treat!

In this blog post, we’ll take you on a journey to Glass Beach, revealing its fascinating history and showing you how to make the most of your visit. 

Have you heard that Glass Beach doesn’t have sea glass anymore?

It’s not true!

Most people are looking in the wrong place!

That’s why, in this guide, we’re revealing exactly where you can still find tons of sea glass at Glass Beach.

About Glass Beach

Glass Beach is a unique and fascinating spot located in Fort Bragg, California, about 170 miles north of San Francisco. 

It’s part of MacKerricher State Park and sits at the intersection of West Elm Street and Glass Beach Drive.

What makes this beach special? 

Instead of regular sand, the shore is covered in small, smooth pieces of colorful glass. 

These glass pebbles come in various shades, creating a dazzling sight that attracts visitors from all over the world.

Glass Beach isn’t just one beach but actually a series of small coves. 

The most famous and easily accessible is Glass Beach 3, which is the one you’ll see on postcards and in travel guides. 

However, in recent years, there is little glass left on this beach due to visitors taking the glass home with them.

(Don’t worry, later in this guide, we’ll be revealing exactly where you can still find glass on Glass Beach! There’s tons of it if you know where to look!)

You can reach Glass Beach by following signs from Highway 1 in Fort Bragg. 

There’s a dedicated parking lot, and from there, a short trail leads you down to the beach. 

Once you’re there, you can explore the glassy shore, check out tide pools or take a walk along the coastal trail for more stunning views.

Remember, while it’s tempting to take some glass home as a souvenir, it’s actually illegal to remove glass from the main beach area. 

Taking the glass means that, sooner or later, there will be no glass left for future visitors so please don’t take any away with you.

The best way to enjoy Glass Beach is to take photos, admire the unique landscape and leave the glass for future visitors to enjoy.

Is There Still Glass At Glass Beach?

Yes, there is still glass at Glass Beach but you need to know where to look. 

Many people often complain that there’s no glass left of Glass Beach but those people are usually just looking in the wrong place.

Sharon Mollerus / Flickr

Here’s where you can find the colorful sea glass today:

The main Glass Beach area (known as site 3), which most people visit first, doesn’t have as much glass as it used to. 

But don’t worry – there’s still plenty to see if you know where to go!

To find the best glass, you’ll want to head to the left of the main beach. 

Walk south along the shoreline, and you’ll come to a second cove. 

This area tends to have a lot more glass, especially near the water’s edge, although the amount may vary.

mlhradio / Flickr

You can actually keep walking along this shoreline to more coves, each one with more sea glass than the last.

These beaches are still absolutely covered in sea glass!

Check out the video below which shows how to get to one of the lesser-known beaches:

For the best experience, try to visit during low tide.

When the water is low, more of the beach is exposed, revealing hidden treasures. 

Look closely at the wet sand and pebbles near the water – that’s where you’ll spot the most glass.

Remember, the glass isn’t always obvious at first glance.

Vy Vu / Flickr

It’s sometimes mixed in with the sand and rocks, so you might need to look carefully. 

Sometimes, the best pieces are hiding just under the surface so gently sift through the sand with your hands or feet.

While the amount of glass has decreased over the years due to collecting, there’s still enough to make your visit worthwhile, especially if you explore some of the lesser-known coves.

Zlatko Unger / Flickr

Just be patient, take your time and enjoy the hunt. 

And don’t forget – it’s illegal to take glass from the main beach area so leave what you find for others to enjoy too!

To understand where all this glass came from, you need to know about the history…

History

Ken Lund / Flickr

The history of Glass Beach is a fascinating tale of how human waste turned into a natural wonder. 

Here’s how it all began:

Back in 1906, the people of Fort Bragg had a big problem – what to do with their trash. 

Like many coastal towns at the time, they decided to dump it right into the ocean. 

For over 60 years, from 1906 to 1967, the townspeople tossed all sorts of things off the cliffs into the water below.

They didn’t just throw away glass bottles. 

Old cars, broken appliances and everyday garbage all ended up in the ocean. 

At the time, no one thought about how this might harm the environment. 

They just wanted an easy way to get rid of their junk.

There were actually three different dump sites used over the years:

1. The first site was used from 1906 to 1943.

2. The second site was active from 1943 to 1949.

3. The third site, which is now the main Glass Beach, was used from 1949 to 1967.

Charles Nadeau / Flickr

Now, you might wonder why the glass didn’t just float away. 

It turns out the unique shape of the coastline and the way the waves move kept most of the trash right there on the beach, particularly the heavier glass pieces, even during big storms.

In 1967, people finally realized this wasn’t a good idea. 

Chris Cooper / Flickr

The dump was closed and efforts were made to clean up the mess. 

While a lot of the garbage and metal was removed, something unexpected happened to the glass that was left behind.

Over decades, the constant motion of the waves worked like a giant tumbler. 

It broke down the glass into smaller pieces and smoothed out the sharp edges. 

jawshouamoua / Flickr

The sea salt and sand helped too, giving the glass its frosted look. 

What was once trash slowly transformed into the colorful, smooth sea glass we see today.

This process takes a long time – anywhere from 30 to 50 years or more for sea glass to form fully. 

mamojo / Flickr

That’s why Glass Beach is so special. 

It’s a place where nature took our mistakes and, over many years, turned them into something beautiful.

Know Before You Go

Before you head out to Glass Beach, here are some helpful tips to make your visit smooth and enjoyable:

Parking

There’s a free parking lot at the end of West Elm Street. 

It’s not very big, so try to arrive early, especially on weekends or during summer.

Fees

Good news! There’s no entrance fee to visit Glass Beach.

Best time to visit

Low tide is the best time to see the most glass. Check tide schedules online before you go.

Weather

Fort Bragg can be chilly and foggy, even in summer. 

Bring layers and a light jacket.

Footwear

Wear sturdy shoes with good grip as the beach can be slippery and rocky.

Leave No Trace

Remember, it’s illegal to take glass from the main beach. Take photos, not souvenirs.

Facilities

There are restrooms near the parking lot but no food or drink stands. 

Bring water and snacks if you plan to stay a while.

Accessibility

The main path to the beach is steep and can be challenging for some. 

There’s a gentler slope at nearby Pudding Creek Beach.

Time needed

Plan to spend about 1-2 hours exploring the beach and surrounding area.

Safety

Be careful near the water’s edge and watch out for sneaker waves. 

Never turn your back on the ocean.

Photography 

The beach is beautiful at sunset but bring a flashlight if you stay late.

Nearby attractions

Check out the rest of MacKerricher State Park or explore the charming town of Fort Bragg while you’re there.

Remember, Glass Beach is a special place. 

Treat it with respect and you’ll have a memorable visit!


Sophie Davis

Born and raised in the Bay area of California, Sophie is a California native. She joined our team in 2023 to create travel guides on California.

Learn more about the Traveller's Elixir Team.

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