USA TODAY: The Best Washington State Beaches to Collect Beach Glass

02/18/2016 21:03

Maria Christensen, Demand Media

Discarded bottles break down to become soft and polished beach glass.

Discarded bottles break down to become soft and polished beach glass.

What Washington State beaches lack in white sand and warm water is more than made up for in the beachcombing treasure of beach glass. The often rocky and wild shores are havens for creating and revealing the old, soft-edged pieces of glass so prized by collectors. Beach glass is created when discarded glass is tossed around in the water, breaking down and interacting with waves, sunlight and chemicals in the saltwater to produce frosted or etched shards of glass. 

Port Townsend

The beaches of Port Townsend are so well-known for beach glass that one particularly fine stretch -- a former town dump -- is known as Glass Beach. Port Townsend is on the northeast corner of the Olympic Peninsula where Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca meet. Your starting point is North Beach, which is also a good place to find beach glass. Walking west for about 90 minutes will bring you to the best part of Glass Beach, but you will find glass along the whole stretch of shore between the two points.

Port Angeles

Drive west of Port Townsend for a little less than an hour to find the seaside town of Port Angeles. Protecting the harbor of the town is a long spit of land called Ediz Hook that catches currents that wash up plenty of beach glass. Most of the hook is a park and open to the public, but the end is occupied by a Coast Guard station and closed. Wander the beach on the outer, northwest side of the spit to find the best glass.

Deception Pass

Deception Pass runs between Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands in northern Puget Sound. Deception Pass State Park, a large park that straddles both islands, offers good beaches for collecting glass. Rosario Beach on Fidalgo Island is particularly noted for beach glass. The beach is full of rocks and driftwood, so you'll have to look sharp and do a little sifting to find treasure. On Whidbey Island, concentrate on the west facing beach side of the park where currents often deposit glass.

Alki Beach

A past history of dumping garbage off Alki Point in West Seattle, plus the currents of Puget Sound, makes Alki Beach a good and easily accessible place to find beach glass in Seattle. The best place to look is the northeast section of the beach farther away from the crowds that flock to the beach, particularly in summer. Going to the beach after a storm and waiting for low tide offers the best results.

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