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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. I even have a post written that shows where you can find beach glass in Ohio and some of the answers may surprise you.

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!

Jean Minner

Thursday 29th of July 2021

Should I put my beach glass in a Tumblr so it will look more polishes.

Kathy G.

Thursday 24th of June 2021

I just moved to Maine and I have visited many beaches but no luck so far despite following all the ideas I read here and elsewhere. Would anyone be kind enough to share some places with me? I would love to find some nice pieces when I do find some time to visit a beach which is very seldom due to work and such. Thank you in advance. If you share a private spot, I will keep it private.


Saturday 19th of June 2021

I display my sea glass in an apothecary jar along with my jars of shells. This keeps me grounded and serves as a reminder that beach time is great therapy!

Tonya Prater

Monday 30th of August 2021

What a great way to display your pieces! I had planned to make jewelry from mine but I'm thinking they'd be better off in a jar of some sort so I can see them all the time.


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 Protection Status
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