Fort Bragg sea glass beach trip review!
I have always wanted to go to "Sea Glass Beach" in Ft. Bragg, CA. It holds an almost mythical reputation among the sea glass hunters I have met in southern CA. It was never convenient to get there in my other travels since it is quite far north from me and still a few hours north of San Francisco. It's hard to convince your family to drive hours to go visit a beach near a dump with the idea of collecting old glass. My family has actually been very flexible with me in the past going on detours to find glass. Our luck has been spotty but it was still fun.
Since my other exciting travel to Australia was cancelled this summer due to Covid- 19, I felt like the universe owed me a special trip. I even planned out several places along the way (with tide chart in hand) that are known for sea glass hunting. I figured my routes, driving times and booked my hotels and we were off.
Our first stop along the way was at Pismo Beach. I had never been to this area before and I was stunned by its' beauty. It has sheer rock cliffs, grassy parks and gorgeous beaches. I loved exploring the little rocky alcoves. It seemed a prime spot for sea glass but we got there at high tide. We had a blast anyway, listening to the waves wash over the pebbles and rock hopping. I almost fell off a cliff I was scaling when a root pulled out in my hand. I was being a bit overzealous in my desire to find that sea glass.
It took us the rest of the day to drive to Monterey. I had planned to visit the beach at low tide, which was the next morning. We headed over to Seaside Beach, in the little town of Seaside. It is a wide, huge beach great for walking or running. We did find lots of "hag stones", which are rocks with holes that the sea has drilled through them. They are really cool looking, but they are NOT sea glass.
We did find some glass but nothing worth writing home about. It started out as a misty day, as most days by the beach here. It turned out to be sunny and gorgeous. We also visited the beach near the Monterey pier and walked around the sites. The kids really loved the antiques mall with all its' weird trinkets and random junk. We had a delicious lunch near Cannery Row and poked around in a little rocky beach alcove with a gorgeous view.
We drove into the night to make it all the way to Fort Bragg. The last part of the drive was in the pitch black on a insanely windy road surrounded by soaring trees. It was amazing how the climate and terrain had changed so much since we set off from San Diego. This part of California is a place I wish I could spend a lot more time. You have all the lovely beaches but instead of the dry, brushy landscapes of southern Cal, you have awe inspiring forests, lush green vegetation and cliffs over water as far as the eye can see.
Finally, our third day of the trip and it was low tide and time to head to sea glass beach. I felt a little giddy in anticipation. It was 9 am and there were a few cars but it wasn't crowded at all. I caught my daughter's reaction to when we first made our way down to the edge of the water. It was a bit overwhelming actually.
I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn't quite what I had anticipated. There were literally piles of sea glass all over the sand. In places, the little bits of sea glass actually replaced the sand. It was mesmerizing, sweeping my hands through the little bits of twinkly glass. The sun and water shone over the little jewels and it was certainly a sight to behold. Later in the day, it got a lot busier and people were swarming the place.
After being in places where I searched so hard to find even one piece of sea glass, it's a bit strange when it is all around you. The pieces are quite uniform in size, mainly the size of pinto beans to a quarter. Many are beautifully tumbled. I saw only clear, green and brown. We did find one or two yellowish or bluish pieces, but they were teeny tiny. I was hoping to be able to look really hard and find some diamonds in the rough, of course. One brilliant blue or even a perfect lime green. I searched really hard, but I did not stray too far down the bluffs. Maybe that was my mistake. Since there were so many little clear pieces, that felt pretty common and did not spark the excited rush I get when I find a piece amongst the rocks.
I was a bit disappointed to be honest. I have heard that the killer pieces are all gone now, plucked by sea glass hunters like myself. I felt a bit conflicted about that now. On the one hand, I really wanted to find those special pieces but on the other hand, I knew they were gone because of the popularity of sea glass hunting these days.
I think Instagram has also raised my expectations too high. I follow tons of sea glass hunters all over the world. Seeing daily posts of cotton candy pink gems, sapphire blue beauties and multicolored frosty marbles has made my dinky clear pieces seem boring.
I am choosing to reframe my bounty. These little clear pieces are also a gift from the sea, stunning in their own right. I plan to set these little gems into enameled metal and dress them up with cloisonne wire designs. I will take what I do to make art and add the color of fused glass on metal with my sea glass gems.
I have always been drawn to so many forms of glass. Fused glass, blown glass, enameled glass, stained glass, you name it. It just makes sense that I am also drawn to sea glass. The extra perk of looking for sea glass is that you are surrounded by the ocean and the surf, the rocks and the cliffs. This is where I feel most at home in the world. Whatever is going on in the world or my world, I know the the ocean will provide me with a safe haven to restore my spirit. I hope you all have places like that. Enjoy them as much as you can. Maybe I'll see you the next time I'm tromping around at the shore.