Glass Beach, California

There are so many stunning sights along the Northern California coastline, but this one holds a special place in my heart.  It used to be a dump.  Literally, a place where people went to get rid of their trash.  In the little town of Fort Bragg, California, what used to be a dump is now a place where people go to find treasure.

Obviously there are no gold doubloons here.  But you can spend hours sifting through the coarse sand, looking at the kaleidoscope of sea glass.  All the old bottles that people left got tumbled through the ocean, broken against the rocks and returned to the shore rounded and smooth.  It’s a pretty sad state of affairs that people for decades pushed their refuse over cliffs here, and thankfully it’s no longer done, but I have to say, I love what Mother Nature did with the place.

The most common colors are brown, amber and white, but you can also find brilliant greens, sapphire blues and the very rare ruby reds.  They’re so smooth you can go barefoot here if you choose, though there are still some sharp abalone shells, so watch your little gypsies.

Stopping at Glass Beach has become a tradition whenever we find ourselves lucky enough to be traveling the California coastline.  Sometimes we take beach blankets and sift through the sand for hours.  Sometimes there’s a pretty overpowering decomposing kelp odor (the shape of the coastal outlet means lots of things get washed up here, not just beautiful sea glass) and we leave early.  It’s a great spot regardless to take in the waves and watch the sun sparkle against the glass.

Directions:  In Fort Bragg, California, turn towards the ocean on Elm St. (at the Denny’s).  If you’re coming from Mendocino, turn left.  If you’re coming from Oregon, turn right.  There are signs.  The parking lot holds about 40 or so cars.  In the morning you’ll most likely have your pick of spots.  On a weekend afternoon, you might have to stalk someone or hoof it a ways.  There are definitely worse places to walk, so it’s all good.

Please, PLEASE, if you visit this beautiful place, do not leave your own garbage behind.  On a few occasions we’ve seen newly broken bottles on the beach.  This is not replenishing something cool, this is inviting bloody toes, people.  Please be kind to the ocean and your fellow gypsies!

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