Finding some peace
“For me walking along the beach is so peaceful and enjoyable,” says Kim Hannon, president of the North American Sea Glass Association and founder of the Eastern Shore Sea Glass Festival in St. Michaels, where she owns the Ophiuroidea shop.
“So even if I don’t find sea glass or anything particularly special, I usually find some really cool driftwood or pretty beach stones. And I always remember to bring a trash bag to pick up trash on the beach while I hunt. It’s also satisfying to help keep our waterways clean.”
Picking up trash before treasure is the best beachcombing tip of all. There are lots of local beachcombing organizations where you can volunteer your time to take part in the International Coastal Cleanup or other annual or regular efforts to keep shorelines free of debris that can harm marine life.
That said, here are ten other beachcombing tips and tricks to help you and your family enjoy your time at the beach searching for treasures. Whether along the Bay, its rivers and creeks or along the Atlantic, you can find amazing things if you just go out and look.
Beachcombing Tips and Tricks
Carrying a small bag that includes powerful waterproof sunscreen, bug spray, water bottles and even minimal first aid supplies can go a long way toward avoiding mishaps and encouraging prevention for annoyances like ticks on a beach trail or sunburn on your fun day.
As the scouts say, “Be Prepared!” When beachcombing that means bringing a sand sifter and mesh waterproof collecting bag, as well as your basic beach items like sun hats, sweatshirts in case it gets breezy, towels, a picnic blanket, snacks, drinks, books, toys and anything age-appropriate for kids.
If you have to walk far from the car, it can be a pain to go back, so packing up
your beach bag correctly the first time can save a lot of hassle.
Sometimes low tide is at an early morning hour or a beach you want to try is far away, and it’s always good to be safe and comb a beach with a pal, so finding a friend to tag along makes for a fun time on beach walks.
It’s not only ocean beaches that yield good beachcombing finds. Lakes, rivers and creeks also offer a bounty of rich discoveries at the water’s edge. The Chesapeake has hundreds of miles of accessible shoreline to explore!
There’s an App for That
Before you even head to the beach, you can check the tides to plan the best time for your coastal visit. Low tide is the ideal time to explore shorelines for interesting finds (though you should check the high tide line on your walk back). A tides app can let you know what time to head out.
Consider planning your beach visit one to two hours before low tide in order to take full advantage of the low-tidal exploration zone. A full moon yields the lowest tides each month.
Two if by Sea
Consider exploring coastlines by kayak or other small vessels. If you can get to a beach by car, so can everyone else, making unique beachcombing finds less likely. The Chesapeake Bay is rich with great discoveries, but they are more likely to be discovered by kayak than in a car.
There are so many books and museums out there that detail the wonders of beachcombing and any particular interest you might have. If you’re into shark-tooth hunting, visit the Calvert Marine Museum to learn everything you need to know and pick up a book so you can identify your finds as you hunt along the local beaches.
Live and Learn
Whether it’s Richard Lamotte’s “Pure Sea Glass,” Deacon Ritterbush’s “A Beachcomber’s Odyssey” or another local beachcombing book, it’s a great idea to learn more about the passionate hunt for beach finds and all the joys they have to offer.
Change it up
The beach isn’t just for summer. The summer is when tourists most commonly visit beaches. The other three seasons of the year are actually when it’s best to get outside and explore beaches that are being less frequented. Uninhabited winter beaches are often the best for combing because of their undisturbed finds.
Join the Fun
Whether you join online beachcombing communities or find local conferences where you can meet others who share your passion. Sea glass, shells, fossils, metal detecting, and shark teeth each have entire communities and informational conferences dedicated to their study.
Looking for a good beach? Check out these great beaches off the beaten path!
Mary McCarthy is the author of the new children’s book I Sea: A Beachcombing Treasure Hunt and the Education Chair of the North American Sea Glass Association.