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15 Must Know Tips to Find Beach Glass like a Pro

Are you looking for a free activity that you can do when traveling? Here are tips to find beach glass that can be incorporated on the Great Lakes or near the ocean.

15 Tips to Find Beach Glass like a Pro.

Beachcombing is a fun and free activity that you can enjoy solo, as a couple, or with your family.


I have tons of seashells on display around my home that my family has found during visits to the beach. In many locations, seashells are plentiful.
Pastel beach glass and sea glass can be found when beachcombing.

In addition to seashells or in lieu of, some people have taken to seeking sea glass which may take a bit more patience and a trained eye.

I seem to have neither.

While the terms beach glass and sea glass are often used interchangeably, there is a distinct difference.

Beach Glass vs Sea Glass- what’s the difference?

Beach glass is formed by freshwater. Typically found in the Great Lakes, the surface of beach glass is smoother than sea glass which is frostier in appearance and more pitted due to the wave, rock, and sand erosion of the ocean.

Beach glass is sought after by collectors and is commonly used to make jewelry. The color, amount of frost, and visible markings are all considered when determining the value of a piece of sea glass.

The most common colors are white, brown, green, seafoam green and amber. Rare colors include pink, aqua, cobalt blue, cornflower blue, yellow, orange, black, purple and the rarest of all, red.

Red is a rare find when it comes to beach glass.

Since beach glass is often used to make jewelry, many jewelers will purchase sea glass, but not before first viewing it under a black light. If the glass contains uranium it will glow. A jeweler’s loupe will show patterns in the glass indicating that it was created by a tumbler and not naturally.

How is Sea Glass Formed?

Beach glass is formed as a result of discarded glass jars and bottles that have been thrown away in the water or left on shore and swept out to sea or in the Great Lakes where it is tossed and tumbled by stones and the pounding waves.

The process which takes 30- 50 years, smooths the edges of the glass and leaves a frosty, smooth exterior.  The sea glass or beach glass, as it’s now called, washes back onshore to be found by treasure hunters.

Beach Glass Erie PA

Sea glass is not as plentiful as it once was due to the reduction of littering, better recycling practices and use of more plastic packaging and bottles versus glass.

Where is Beach Glass Found?

Hot spots for beach glass in the United States include Maine, New Jersey, Erie, Chesapeake Bay and Cape Cod.

Two beaches are especially known for their abundance of sea glass- Fort Bragg Beach in California and Glass Beach in Kauai, Hawaii. The beach in Hawaii is near an industrial area and Fort Bragg’s Glass Beach was a water dumping ground on the edge of town.

Unfortunately for those of us seeking to find beach glass, keep in mind that removing beach glass from either location is strongly discouraged. These beaches are simply to marvel over. Take pictures. Not beach glass. 

Fort Bragg's Glass Beach is a popular attraction in California.

I had the opportunity to sit down with two beach glass experts, Tom and Vicky Carter at the Great Lakes Beach Glass & Coastal Arts Festival in Erie, Pennsylvania. They shared what you need to know when it comes to finding beach glass.

Tips to Find Beach Glass

tips to help you find beach glass

    1. Allow a minimum of TWO hours to search for sea glass.
    2. Skip the pristine sandy beach for a pebbly beach with lots of rocks.
    3. Go where the waves are.
    4. The best time to hunt for beach glass is after a storm.
    5. Visit the beach at low tide. Tides are lower around full moons so plan your hunt accordingly.
    6. Don’t be afraid to wade out into the water if necessary.
    7. Face AWAY from the sun and look for sparkles.
    8. Begin your search near the lower low-tide lines or rocky areas, but search the entire shoreline if time allows.
    9. Carry a small bag to collect the beach glass you find.
    10. Use a small plastic rake or kitty litter scoop to sift through the sand.
    11. Areas of wet sand may turn up the best finds but look closely, the white glass may look invisible.
    12. Wear sturdy walking shoes for climbing down embankments when searching for beach glass along the shoreline near roads.
    13. Do not hunt sea glass on private property unless you have permission.
    14. Finished sea glass should not have any sharp edges. If the sea glass is not “mature”, throw it back and it will continue to circulate for other people to find.
    15. The darker colors of sea glass may look like rocks at first glance so pay attention!

Helpful Items for Hunting Beach Glass

Learn more about Sea Glass

This website has a ton of information on sea glass including how to grade your finds, crafts you can make with sea glass, beach reports, details on how to find a good beach and so much more.

A Fun Beach Glass Craft

If you’re crafty, this cute craft for DIY Beach Inspired Frosted Wine Glasses is adorable! And it’s so easy to do. 

 Attend a Beach Glass Festival 

Two years ago, I attended the bi-annual Great Lakes Beach Glass & Coastal Arts Festival in Erie, Pennsylvania. Located in the Bayfront Convention Center next to the Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel (which offers incredible views of the bay and Presque Lake Isle State Park on a clear day) the festival draws visitors and collectors from around the country.

Great Lakes Beach Glass & Coastal Arts Festival in Erie PA

Visitors can purchase beach glass and items made using beach glass as well as other coast inspired art pieces. Presenters are on hand to share their knowledge of beach glass and there are other interactive booths and activities for visitors to enjoy.

Beach glass is often made into jewelry.

The dates for 2021 have not yet been released for the Great Lakes Beach Glass & Coastal Arts Festival, but keep an eye on this website for details as 2021 draws closer.

However, if you’re excited about finding beach glass now that I’ve mentioned it, you’ll find additional festivals focused on beach glass by visiting this website.

Have you had any luck finding beach glass? What tips would you add?

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Need a few tips to find beach glass on your next trip to the coast? Here are 15 easy tips that will have you finding sea glass in no time!

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Wednesday 5th of May 2021

can i find some at Atlanic City, NJ?

Newton Brown

Wednesday 14th of April 2021

I think you are incorrect on the rarest color of sea glass I've been doing this for years and orange is absolutely the hardest and most difficult to find however red is difficult but the rarest is orange

sarah shearer

Monday 15th of February 2021

Take a uv / black light torch as some glass glows when you shine a torch at it. Pre war coke bottles will glow from the uranium used to dye the glass green

Tonya Prater

Saturday 20th of February 2021

What a great tip! Thanks for sharing.


Saturday 13th of February 2021

Here’s what you need to properly hunt Sea Glass in California, first come in the winter and early spring and not summer because low tide is durning the day in the winter and evening in the summer, look when low tide is although not all beaches are low tide beaches, come when there have been days with 4ft or larger waves because larger waves erode the beach, moving sand and expose rocks and 1 ft waves don’t move sand away from rocks and actually packs the rocks in and no glass will be found, . The proper gear are dive boots, dive socks, sand dipper to pick up the glass, shells, and rocks, life guard hat- Helps block sun rays, don’t wear sunglasses as it makes it harder to see the glass esp darker colors, we have special bags that have a strap to carry our haul and please throw back new glass back to cook. My dive boots are a must as I have gotten planter fasciitis before without them when walking on large rocks

Tonya Prater

Saturday 20th of February 2021

Thanks for all the tips! I wouldn't have thought of going into the water to look for the sea glass. I'll have to remember your tips when I visit the West Coast again as most of my experience is here on the East Coast.


Monday 25th of January 2021

Does anyone know a place to find sea glass in Spain? Thank you


Friday 26th of March 2021

I started my love of hunting sea glass in Majorca Spain!!

Tonya Prater

Friday 5th of February 2021

I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with finding sea glass outside of the US. Protection Status
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