Last weekend we did a little road trip on California Pacific Coast Highway 1 up north. Our first stop was Bodega Bay, which is known for it's beautiful views and oyster farms. We didn't spend a lot of time there but it seemed like a nice fishing destination, and had some nice looking restaurants along the road. There are many beaches in Bodega Bay, so we stopped at one of them right after the town for a little walk and play time for our little one.
Our final destination, Fort Bragg is in Mendocino county, about 15 minutes from the city of Mendocino. Fort Bragg itself is registered as a California Historical Landmark due it's history dating back before the Civil War. Today, it is a popular tourist destination, and offers many interesting things to see and do.
Since we were in Fort Bragg, we really wanted to see it's famous Glass Beach, which happened to be only 5 minute away from our hotel. So that is where we headed after we woke up the next morning. This unique place was once a garbage dump called "The Dumps". Mostly glass, but also other waste were thrown down from the cliffs and it ended up in the ocean. In 1967 the area was closed and later cleaned up by many separate efforts. Today, nature has moulded something so beautiful out of human recklessness. Bounding waves and salt water have broken down the colourful glass into pieces, and shaped sea glass out of it. With the sun and the water, they look like little sparkly gems.
There are actually three separate little beaches with sea glass, because the dump was moved from one place to another a few times. After you find a big parking lot on W Elm Street, a paved trail will take you down to the beach area. My recommendation would be to choose the "difficult trail". The beach itself was bigger, and it had more sea glass than the other side of the beach. The trail was very short and not very difficult at all. The most difficult part was to go down the steps and then jump down to the beach. "The easy trail" takes you to a smaller beach which had less glass. The signs will tell you which trail is which. What we didn't know, is that there was also one more beach further north on the trail, so we didn't walk all the way up to that one.
I recommend going to Glass Beach during the low tide, so you will see most of the glass just washed up on the shore. Also, the later you go, the more people have collected the sea glass and the beach doesn't look quite so magnificent as early in the morning. Collecting sea glass is actually illegal but we saw many people doing that. Sea glass is slowly diminishing, and some people think it should not be protected since it is actually trash. What do you think?
These sea glass beaches are extremely rare. There are only 2 other glass beaches that are known in the US. One is in Benicia, California and one in Kauai, Hawaii. It is called Hanapepe. We wanted to visit the Benicia glass beach since it is very close to us, but we found that it was difficult find information on it's actual location, and many people said that there is very little glass left. Maybe someday we will find it and I can compare the two.