In Northern California, near the wine-country city of Mendocino, lies a beach that seems almost too surreal to actually exist. But it is real. The town of Fort Bragg is home to Sea Glass Beach- a beach where instead of sand, there is sea glass.
When the town of Fort Bragg was destroyed by a massive earthquake in 1906, there was too much rubble and debris to burn, so residents began dumping their garbage into the ocean, expecting it to be carried away by the currents. But it wasn’t. Instead, the trash gathered in the bay and over time, the power of the ocean turned the trash into treasure.
But in 1967 the North Coast Water Quality Board realized the dangers of dumping trash into the ocean, and put an end to it. Now, what remains of the former ocean dump doesn’t resemble trash at all. Rather, the old tail lights, beer bottles, lotion jars, prescription bottles, and soda bottles have become millions of pieces of sparkling sea glass, shimmering in the sunlight.
The Northern section of Sea Glass Beach is protected by State Park Services, and therefore, visitors are not permitted to remove any of the sea glass. However, the Southern section is a public beach, and it is OK to take home a couple pieces as a souvenir.
From Highway 1, turn west on Elm Street (Denny’s is on the corner) and drive a few blocks to Glass Beach Drive. There is a small parking lot, but you might have to find street parking. Follow the path down towards the ocean, and turn left when it forks. Soon you will see a staircase on the right leading down to the cove. This takes you to the public section of the beach, and admission is free.
This really is one of those places you have to see to believe.
For more information on visiting Mendocino, Fort Bragg, or Sea Glass Beach, visit the Mendocino tourism website.