Where to Find Sea Glass in California

Art sea glass from Davenport, California

I've lived in California for most of my life, but it's only recently that I ventured north to the famous Glass Beach at Fort Bragg and Davenport, near Santa Cruz. I'm fairly sure that I will return to both of them too.

While most people are looking for sandy beaches and sunshine in California, I much prefer a stony beach and some stormy weather! When those waves start crashing onto the shore, sea glass hunters get to work!

Here are the California beaches where sea glass can be found​, starting with Glass Beach...

Fort Bragg

Sea glass angel at Glass Beach, Fort Bragg, California

Glass Beach at Fort Bragg is at the top of most sea glass hunter's list of beaches to visit. It's not the easiest place to get to, but well worth the effort and has a fascinating history.

We could have flown into San Francisco, but decided on Sacramento instead. From there, we drove 189 miles to Fort Bragg. It was quite late at night so we were not able to see too much of the scenery, but that may have been just as well... we drove back during daylight and there were some big drops off the side of the highway!

It didn't feel too lucky at the time, but we visited during a big storm. We were soaked through both days at the beach, but it did mean that plenty of glass had been washed up on the shore. We've seen reports from some that there's not much glass left, but we were amazed - the beach was literally covered in it. So much, in fact, that I was able to lay down and make a sea glass angel!

There's not much else to do in Fort Bragg itself, but quite a lot to see in the general area. One thing we had to do was find the famous Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree and... well... drive through it!

Glass Beach at Fort Bragg, California

Davenport

A jar of art sea glass at Davenport, California

Whereas Glass Beach is famous for lots of sea glass, Davenport - just north of Santa Cruz - has a firm policy of quality over quantity. In fact, the sea glass from this beach may be some of the very best in the world.

As you can see in the photo right at the top of this page, the sea glass found here is like no other. It washes up onto the beach day after day, with sea glass hunters literally risking their lives to grab the best pieces.

Safety measures are vital on this beach when the tide is high. I was advised not to wear my wellington boots, in case I was dragged out to sea. I thought it may have been a bit of overreaction, but then I watched as guys wearing wet suits wear knocked off their feet by knee-height waves. Seriously... be careful.

At low tide, take a shovel with you and dig up some treasure. Some Davenport regulars were retrieving the most amazing sea glass just a foot or two below the surface. This beach has to be on your list for sure!

Hunting for sea glass at Davenport Beach, California

La Jolla

Sea glass heart found at La Jolla, San Diego, California

La Jolla in San Diego is the best sea glass beach I've found in Southern California. It's a busy place and parking can be pretty tough going, but you will find lots of beach treasure.

You are looking for "Shell Beach" which is fairly small, but on a good sea glass day it literally washes up at your feet! There are plenty of seashells to collect too. As you can see below, Shell Beach is very popular with sea glass hunters. You will find plenty of white, green and brown sea glass, also some aqua and blue.

There are lots of seals further along on another beach. They're great fun to watch, but don't go too near as they need space. Young seals have been abandoned after being disturbed by idiots... so don't be an idiot!

I love spending a few hours at La Jolla. It's a lovely beach to stop off at on the way to San Diego, perhaps for a music concert or a Padres game at Petco Park. I've always found plenty of sea glass here too, so never a wasted journey.

Sea glass hunters at La Jolla, San Diego, California
Jonna

Jonna

I have been gathering sea glass for many years. I can never resist a stroll along the beach and the opportunity to add some more beach treasure to my collection!

4 Comments

  1. Since Glass Beach in Fort Bragg is now property of the state of California, taking the sea glass is prohibited. There’s a sign stating so at the trailhead to the beach. FYI

  2. I thought that glass beach near Ft. Bragg was a protected area and you could be arrested for trespassing to collect any beach glass.

  3. I live on California’s Central Coast & our Northern beaches tend to have great Sea Glass. Moonstone Beach in Cambria, CA is one that comes to mind. I urge you to check it out. But I’ve also had success at some of the busier Southern beaches: Avila, Shell, & Pismo

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