Sea glass is sought by serious collectors as well as vacationers looking for a pleasant beach pastime. It's fun to imagine its origins...perhaps it's a bottle shard a lovesick seaman tossed overboard stuffed with a note he penned to his betrothed. Of course, it may have had far less romantic roots and come from a garbage dump or a group of beach partiers. But, regardless, one person's junk is another's jewel.
Supply of Sea Glass
While it's possible to find sea glass on Florida beaches, it's becoming increasingly rare. Due to the move away from dumping garbage in the oceans and plastic replacing glass as a packaging material, scouring is not for the faint of heart. Much has already been collected, so those who find large supplies like to keep it a secret. Nevertheless, there are at least a few beaches in Florida worth exploring.
Types of Sea Glass
The most desirable sea glass from a collector's point of view has been tumbled in the ocean to a frosty finish and is rare in color. Orange and black tend to be unusual, while white is rather common, as are brown and green. There is a wide range of colors, so it's helpful to consult a reference chart to see just how rare the pieces you find are, such the chart on the West Coast Sea Glass website.
Where to Look for Sea Glass
Beaches surrounded by populated cliffs are likely to have sea glass, if the waves are aggressive enough. In the days predating waste pickup, people tossed their garbage off the cliffs into the sea. Beaches near garbage dumps and landfills are good places to troll, and it's worthwhile looking at any beach where there's been a dramatic disruption in the sea or coastline, as there may be after a hurricane. Wave patterns can have a significant impact on sea glass deposits. Beaches that have been known for parties are also good places to hunt. Beaches that flank historically active seaways are worth visiting, as are those with sunken ships off the coast, according to OdysseySeaGlass.com.
On Florida's panhandle on the Gulf Coast, Navarre Beach is an ideal place to find sea glass. The shifting winds and sand dunes present optimal conditions for discovery of shards. Navarre Beach is quiet and secluded, filled with rental houses and condos, making it an inviting place for vacationers to leisurely stroll and collect shards. Going on sea glass hunts is a family activity that includes the excitement of discovery, followed by comparisons of color, shapes and sizes. Challenges like who can find one shaped like a heart, a dolphin or the color of the green sea can send children on endless sleuthing adventures.
Jacksonville to Cinnamon Beach
Jacksonville beaches are said to have sea glass, according to the Smithsonian Magazine website, enough that it's worthwhile for collectors to scour. And Cinnamon Beach, in Palm Coast, just an hour south of Jacksonville, has also been reported to have sea glass. Cinnamon Beach is named for its cinnamon-colored sand and is a growing family vacation spot with resorts and other rental properties.
Islands in Florida
Sea glass hunting is an advertised activity in Siesta Key, an island off Florida's central west coast and a short drive from Sarasota. The location is known for its white sand and its annual world-class sand sculpture competition, according to the Siesta Key Florida Vacation website. Given all the sunken ships off the Florida Keys, and their rich history, those beaches are also worth exploring.
Based in Chester, N.Y., Priscilla Tovey has been writing books and articles on international education and business for more than 15 years. She is the author/editor of "Smart Vacations," and an assistant editor of "Work, Study, Travel Abroad," both published by St. Martin's Press. Tovey is an adjunct professor of English; she holds a Master of Arts degree from N.Y.U.