Glass Beach, California

WHEN you imagine a beach, you picture golden sand glistening in the day’s sunlight and the turquoise waves of the ocean ebbing and flowing on the shores.

Something does sparkle on Glass Beach in California, but as the name suggests, it isn’t what we often think of as sand.

There are many glass beaches around the world, from the United Kingdom and Morocco to Australia and Bermuda, each with their unique colours and popularity.

Yet, Fort Bragg has fast become a tourist hotspot despite the spotted history of the beach.

Like all glass beaches across the globe, American seaside hub – located about 170 miles north of San Francisco – was once a derelict spot where people were more likely to avoid than visit.

California’s Glass Beach was formerly a rubbish dump where trash from the local residents was left to decompose.

California's Glass Beach has become a tourist hub thanks to the unique nature of its shore (Flickr/John Krzesinski)
California’s Glass Beach has become a tourist hub thanks to the unique nature of its shore (Flickr/John Krzesinski)

Yet, the broken glass left behind, such as bottles or tableware has been grounded down, making its sharp edges smooth, thus creating sea glass.

The colour of it also depends of its origins, with many of these shores that are covered by glass coming in either green or clear, while they will often look frosted during its process of being moulded.

Although many collect the sea glass and turn it into jewellery or ornaments for their homes, California’s Glass Beach has a strict law stating that it is illegal to remove it.

This has seen its resources depleted, while other bits are being swept away by the strong currents of the Pacific Ocean.

Sea glass is formed from broken glass like bottles that have been smoothed over to gets its rounded shape
Sea glass is formed from broken glass like bottles that have been smoothed over to gets its rounded shape

However, it continues to be heralded as a national treasure and must-see hotspot for those driving through California, with tens of thousands visiting every year.

Glass Beach has become so popular that it even has its own museum where you can pick up your very own sea glass souvenir, rather than taking from the beach.

Getting to Glass Beach is almost impossible without a car unless you are staying in the area.

You can catch a bus from the nearest city – Santa Rosa – although this will take around four hours to reach the coastal phenomenon.

And if you want to visit some of the other glass beaches in California, head to Del Monte Beach in Monterrey and La Jolla Cove just outside San Diego – while Eleele Beach in Hawaii is among the most popular around the world.