Overcrowding on popular beaches has been a hot topic this year. We have read tons of blog posts, articles and reports about social media contributing to those extra special spots becoming less and less ‘unspoilt’ - especially in popular UK holiday destinations such as Cornwall and Devon.
Add the fact that more and more people are taking up beachcombing as a hobby, making it harder for people to discover rare or unusual finds... you would think this is the last post we would be writing!
But beachcombing is something that everyone should be able to enjoy. It brings back memories of growing up beside the sea, and we love to think that future generations will enjoy it too. There is nothing like unexpectedly coming across something in the sand, treasure that brings visions of mermaids, pirates, history and magic for all ages.
We are not giving up our best spots – not just yet, anyway! But here are some practical tips that might help if you want to add some beachcombing magic to your life…
1. Check the Tide
It isn’t much fun turning up to the beach to find it hiding under the sea - it makes you feel a bit silly actually! A quick google search for tide times in your location will give you times for both the upcoming high and low tides. The lower the tide, the more beach to search for treasure. However, we try to get to the beach a couple hours after high tide so there hasn’t been hours of footfall churning up the sand and burying the best finds.
2. Choose your Location
A particularly remote beach may be appealing if you want to avoid the crowds, but don’t be fooled into thinking that less people means more treasure for you. The best spots for beachcombing are usually close to towns and harbours. Sea glass, sea pottery and even old coins and such only end up in the sea due to people losing or throwing those items away and beaches close to towns that have a long-active port or harbour can be the best places to find exciting things.
Instead of avoiding the busy beaches, try making the effort to get there before the crowds. Beachcombing through a beautiful sunrise is dreamy. However, remember tip no. 1 and check your tide times.
3. Shingle not Sand
The good news for beachcombers is that tourists normally flock to the golden, sandy beaches. For beachcombing you want a pebble beach, or at least one with plenty of shingle patches, as the stones catch and hold treasure. However, if the pebbles are too big, this is no good either – items fall through the gaps and out of sight.
4. Brave the Elements
Beachcombing is a great hobby all year round, but sometimes it is worth braving the winter weather for a few good finds. Stormy weather brings churning tides and bigger, more powerful waves to wash up items that otherwise may never have made it to shore.
Recently we were on the beach in winds so strong we could barely stand up or even open our eyes but it was worth it. We found some amazing sea glass, including our biggest ever rare yellow find.
5. Be Prepared
It is surprisingly easy to lose hours wandering up and down a stretch of sand. Remember to stay safe and take plenty of sun cream, a sun hat and water to stay hydrated. Likewise, if you are beachcombing in winter, a decent coat and sensible footwear are advisable to keep you warm. It is amazing how quickly a light sea breeze can turn into a freezing cold gale.
6. Do your Research
All beaches have their own dangers, whether it is unstable cliffs, cut-off spots that will leave you stranded when the tide comes in or dangerous creatures that live there (sand dunes can be good homes for snakes!) Another quick google search will tell you what you need to know before you go, making sure your experience is as enjoyable as possible.
You also need to think about logistics. If your beachcombing buddy is of the four-legged variety, check dogs are allowed on your beach at all times of year. Is there a carpark nearby or do you have a 3-mile long trek to get there? Are there public loos next to the beach or should you ‘go’ before you go?
7. Well Equipped
There are a few handy tools specially designed to help you on your beachcombing adventures. Keep an eye out for our upcoming review of Reverse Gem’s Yoake beachcombing bag and beach ruler – two things we could not live without. There are also various sea glass sorting guides available, some of which we will be writing about soon.
8. Patience is a Virtue
You know all those amazing bits of rare sea glass you see on Instagram? Chances are, those collectors have been beachcombing for yonks! Don’t be put off if you come away empty handed on your first attempt. In our experience, you can visit a beach and come away with nothing one day, then discover some amazing finds in the same spot a week later.
9. The Unspoken Rule
Many beachcombers honour the unspoken rule that you should only take what the sea presents you, or the finds that you stumble across as you are wandering along.
It can be extremely tempting to dig for treasure, especially when someone else has just found a particularly rare find on your beach. But digging can ravage a beach and make the experience less enjoyable for other beachcombers, as well as disturbing and/or possibly distressing local plants and animals.
Check out our Beachcombing Etiquette guidelines for more tips on making sure everyone has a great beachcombing experience.
Did you find this useful? I would love to know if this post helped you - let me know in the comments below.