Wondering how on earth those feet got buried in a pile of glass? That’s right. The glistening colors you see above are not rocks or shiny stones, but glass. Glass Beach is one of the most unique beaches in the world, not only because nature’s beauty, but because time and the pounding surf have corrected one of man’s mistakes. Located in Northern California’s Fort Bragg along the coast a few hours north of San Francisco, the beach was once a public dump starting in around 1949. In the 1940’s and 1950’s, people actually dumped all kinds of refuse straight into the ocean, which of course included lots of glass. And, back then, there was a lot of colored glass, which ranged from beer bottles to perfume bottles and everything in between. People even tossed remnants from cars, batteries, cans and appliances, all unceremoniously pushed over the cliffs into the ocean. Apparently this practice was common across seaside cities for centuries.
In 1967, the North Coast Water Quality Board realized this mistake and a new dump away from the ocean was created. Now, over 40 years later, Mother Nature has cleansed and reclaimed this beach. Years of pounding wave action have rounded tons of polished glass onto the beach. You’ll find the occasional reminder of it’s earlier life, but for the most part what you’ll see is millions of pieces of sea glass sparkling in the sun.
Below, people scout for glass, picking up pieces that call to them and them alone.
The colors of the glass range from opaque white and rustic orange to sea green and piercing blue.
One woman even brought her own shovel to do some digging.
The walk to get there is lovely – very peaceful and serene and close to the center of town. There are three beaches, one which is harder to reach by foot. Walking to the other two beaches, there are fabulous picnic spots on the rocks and cliffs overlooking Glass Beach. Be sure to check out the most northern of the three beaches located in MacKerricher State Park if you have the time.
Getting There: From Highway 1 heading into Fort Bragg, CA, turn west on Elm Street (Denny’s is on the corner) and drive a few blocks to Glass Beach Drive. Park at the intersection and walk down to the beach.