Ft. Bragg, California, located on the beautiful Mendocino coast, is home to the highest concentration of Sea Glass in the world. Sea Glass Beach, as it is nicknamed due to the vast quantity found, is a must-see for any avid collector. This beach is overloaded with Sea Glass because of its’ former history as the town’s trash dumping site. In the old days, the ocean was used as a public dump. Because of this, an old ocean dump site like Ft. Bragg is typically the best place to seek these beautiful naturally created gems.
As you stroll around this gorgeous beach, you will see layers upon layers of the glistening frosted glass pieces. Although collecting is prohibited at this beach, it is still amazing to walk around the jewel covered grounds. As a bonus, seal sightings are pretty common here (we saw several, but unfortunately didn’t get the camera out in time!).
For those of you new to the term, Sea Glass is the name for the frosted gem like glass formed from old pieces of bottles/other forms of glass. I had never heard of the term until moving to a small island off the coast of Maine where collecting Sea Glass was a popular pastime. The smooth texture of the glass results from years of tumbling. It’s hard to imagine that these frosty gems were once sharp broken pieces of a bottle. Some of the glass is especially valuable as it can be hundreds of years old! Oftentimes, you can make out sections of printed text on the glass.
The most common colors found are: green, brown, and white due to the high concentration of beer bottles. If you are lucky, you may find pieces of lavender and cobalt blue. These are likely older pieces of glass, and thus, are much harder to find. Cobalt blue pieces are from old Milk of Magnesia and Noxema bottles, which date back to the early 1900s. In Maine, I found numerous cobalt blue pieces with a portion of the text still legible on the glass.
Low tide after a storm is ideally the best time to search for sea glass.
The beautiful gems can be used for craft projects or even sold as jewelry. I like to make picture frames and ornaments with my collection (the perfect homemade gift idea!). I also enjoy displaying it throughout the house in various glass vases. No matter what you decide to do with it, Sea Glass is one of the best examples of worthless trash transforming into a beautiful treasure.
Sea Glass Beach is located inside MacKerricher State Park in Ft. Bragg, California.
Directions: Sea Glass Beach is located at Elm St & Old Haul Rd in Ft. Bragg. Free parking is available along the side streets.
Tip: Check the estimated high/low tides before heading to the beach.