You’ll be amazed at what you can find in and around Sandbridge Beach, VA – from seashells of all shapes and sizes to flora and fauna galore.
Why not organize a family scavenger hunt to see what you can discover? Each family member can create a list of specific things to look for – one list for Sandbridge Beach itself, another for Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and a third for Little Island Fishing Pier.
What to Look For
Sea glass can be as large as a quarter or as small as a pea (or smaller), so you’ll have to scan carefully as you walk the beach. Sea glass can be found in all ranges of colors, but the most common is a medium green hue. The reason green is the most prevalent color is that green glass is the most popular color for beer and soda bottles in mass production. White and green glass is also typical for the same reason. White glass usually dates from the early 20th century, when milk came in thick glass bottles. White sea glass takes on a frosted color when it tumbles in the ocean; it makes beautiful jewelry.
The Rarest Colors
While shades of green are the most often found, occasionally a beachcomber will hit the jackpot and find an orange, red, yellow, purple, or turquoise pebble. These colors are highly prized by sea glass collectors.
Orange and red sea glass comes from decorative tableware such as colored wine goblets or red ship lights. Yellow is a distinctive color because it would originate with a decorative piece of glass such as a vase, which would not be readily thrown away.
Turquoise is another unusual specimen, usually made from seltzer bottles that were popular around the early 1900s. Turquoise and teal sea glass may appear similar, but they have very different origins. Teal sea glass usually comes from vintage ink bottles, or sometimes mineral water or wine bottles.
Other noteworthy colors are pink, gray, and black. Gray sea glass gets its coloring from lead oxide — a popular addition to crystal tableware in the 1800s. Black glass dates to around 1700, when beer and liquor bottles were made using iron residue to color the glass.
Find a piece of purple glass? It probably started as a glass bottle made before World War I. Some antique bottles contained manganese, which reacts with ultraviolet sunlight to acquire a purple hue.
When it comes to scarcity, thickness also counts. If you find a piece of green or white glass that’s more than an inch thick, it likely came from a shipwreck. Clear glass probably came from ship windows, and thick green glass began as a ship’s deck prism, a piece of glass used to reflect light below.
Where and When to Find Sea Glass
Sea glass is small and lightweight, so the best time to hunt for it is at or after a King or Neap tide (super high tides) about an hour before the tide turns to go out, or right after a storm. Early mornings just after sunrise are also prime time for sea glass hunting. Remember — the early bird gets the worm — especially when it comes to beachcombing. As storms increase in frequency and intensity in the fall, you’re more likely to find a piece of sea glass on Sandbridge Beach in late August, September, or October. Choose a bright, sunny day to hunt for sea glass and keep an eye out for that telltale sparkle.
As you’re searching, pay particular attention to indentations around heavier debris such as large pieces of driftwood. These watery divots can trap smaller shells and sea glass. On the East Coast, sea glass is a bit hard to find, so it takes some patience. However, the hunt is part of the fun. Sandbridge Beach is close to the sites of many ancient shipwrecks, so if you do find a piece of sea glass, you may be holding a part of history. It’s worth the wait.
What Do With It
Sea glass is pretty enough to sit in a sunny window at home as a happy reminder of your vacation. However, you can use it in crafts, mosaics, wind chimes, and mobiles. Sea glass jewelry is exceptionally pretty. A single piece can be the focus of a pendant, or two similarly sized pieces make lovely earrings. If you’re handy, you can make your own with supplies from your a craft store. Otherwise, take your treasures to a jewelry artist. Check with your local artist’s co-op or art gallery to find an artisan willing to take commissions.
Hunting for sea glass on Sandbridge Beach is fun for the whole family, but it can also be a relaxing solo activity. Go at the right time, walk slowly, and have patience. You may just find your own piece of ancient Sandbridge history.
Did you know Sandbridge Beach can be just as enjoyable in the winter? Here are the best winter activities on the beach that prove it.
#1 Walks on the Beach With Your Loved Ones
Winter is without a doubt the most romantic time of the year. It includes spoiling your loved one with gifts at Christmas, sharing a New Year’s kiss, and spending Valentine’s Day head over heels for each other. Add a walk on the beach with your significant other and you have yourself the perfect winter. There’s something about the cold weather and the sound of the ocean that brings people closer together.
#2 Treasure Hunting
Treasure hunting is a beach activity favored by most beach goers. The winter is the perfect time of year to find rare sea glass, seashells, and buried treasure in Sandbridge. The beaches are fairly empty December through February so there’s not a lot of competition. You won’t have to worry about another hunter crowding you or constantly picking through the beach before you arrive. Have you ever thought to take a metal detector on the beach? You would be shocked by the valuable antiques you can find! Whether you’re alone looking for a peaceful activity to clear your mind or with the family looking for something fun and exciting to do, treasure hunting will be sure to do the trick.
If you are someone that loves the thrill of a new action sport or just someone that loves surfing already than winter is the perfect time to go surfing in Sandbridge. Although the East Coast gets good surf throughout the year, it goes without saying that fall and winter get the best waves. Spring and summer often have flat, weak, and sporadic waves. Fall and winter is when you’ll find the best waves on our coast. With all the nor’easters and hurricanes the surfing conditions are just right for those perfect spitting barrels. Surfing in the winter is very peaceful. You’ll have time to yourself on the water and you won’t have to fight large crowds to catch a wave you’ve been eyeing. Since there aren’t any large crowds winter is the perfect time to start learning how to surf.
If you decide to paddle out this winter just remember to grab your wetsuit! The water gets very cold, as low as 37 degrees. A 4/3 is recommended along with a hood, boots, and gloves.
#4 Relax At Your Vacation Rental
Since winter is the perfect time to cuddle up next to the fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate, wouldn’t a beautiful ocean view make these moments ten times better? The winter has amazing deals on vacation rentals. There are times where a property that costs $13,500 a week drops to as little as $3,000! When you stay in your ocean front rental the perfect day is created by breathtaking scenery combined with your activities with your loved ones. Play games with the family, watch movies, cook dinner, or enjoy the company of your loved ones with the blissful sound of the waves crashing onto the shore.
Next time you get the strange urge to go to Sandbridge Beach in the winter remember there are plenty of fun winter beach activities to keep your summer memories alive all year round.