Sea Glassing

Sea Glass Kids CONTRIBUTED BY JOY BARNES

As a “Florida Girl” I’ve spent much time around the water and in the sand.  I’ve collected pretty shells, an occasional shark’s tooth and even some beautiful sand dollars.  However, it wasn’t until I spent time on Okinawan beaches that I discovered sea glass.  Now, searching for sea glass has become one of my family’s favorite weekend activities.

Sea glass is broken pieces of glass that have been tumbled in the waves, on rocks, and on sand, until it has a smooth, worn appearance.  It is usually made from broken bottles or discarded jars, but occasionally the sea glass on Okinawa comes from the antique fishing balls.  I’ve also found little bits of pottery with the same worn effect, as well as some glass bits with kanji on them.   Most of the glass we find is white, brown and light green, but we’ve found some nice blues as well as a few rare amber-colored glass.

Sea Glass 1

Some people enjoy the hobby of researching the origins of their sea glass, while others make beautiful jewelry from the pieces they find.  For me, I simply enjoy the hunt.  It is an activity that brings together two of my favorite things in life- time with my family and a beautiful day at the beach.  I’ve always thought there is something so relaxing, even healing, about a walk on the beach; add to that the sweetness of the excitement my kids get from finding little “treasures” on these walks and I have the perfect combination.

It’s a great activity for any age.  My two year old son gets so proud when he spots a piece of glass by himself and my six year old daughter likes the challenge of finding a rare blue glass or a piece of pottery.   Even my husband and I like the satisfaction of finding a unique, beautiful colored glass.

Sea Glass Joy

We’ve found sea glass on beaches all over Okinawa, but the best beaches for sea glass tend to be rockier and more secluded.  We have the best luck finding sea glass out on Ikei and Hamahiga Islands.  We love a quiet stretch of rocky beach out at Ikei Island’s Big Time Resort.  It usually costs 500 yen to park at the resort but the beach is beautiful and in addition to searching for sea glass, there are great tide pools for the little ones to explore.  (My kids always find sea cucumbers and an occasional star fish there.)  There are also secluded stretches of beach tucked away on both Ikei and Hamahiga so if you see a glimpse of sand, pull the car over, hop out and go exploring!

Okinawa is perfect for sea glass hunting year round.  In the winter, throw on your sweatshirt and go for a nice stroll on the beach.  In the heat of the summer, the beach is one of the few places outdoors to keep cool.   What’s more, it’s a great free activity for the family!

Sea Glass Jars

After an afternoon of searching for sea glass, my husband cleans off the glass and my kids like the task of sorting the glass by color.  We proudly display our treasures in glass jars in our kitchen. They are a simple souvenir from Okinawa that will eventually adorn our Florida retirement home. Our sea glass will always serve as a reminder of fond family times on the beaches of Okinawa.

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21 Comments
  • June 22, 2011

    An excellent idea! Where did you find those glass bottles with the cork tops?!?

    Sofya
    Reply
  • June 22, 2011

    I was also wondering where you got the cork topped jars. We have seen a good amount of sea glass on our beach too, on the 58 in Onna/Nakadomari, across the street from the farmer’s market. My son loves to beach comb as well but I like your idea of collecting the glass. Well done!

    Sarah
    Reply
  • June 22, 2011

    The jars are from our trusty 100 Yen stores. What a bargain! We were out at Tori Beach this weekend, near the northern campsite, and I was surprised to find a lot of sea glass there too.

    Joy
    Reply
  • June 23, 2011

    Awe Joy what a beautiful post. I miss oki dearly and its just not the same out here. Love it!! <3

    erika
    Reply
  • June 23, 2011

    I’m definitely going to the 100 store tomorrow to try and find those jars!!!! We’ve been collecting sea glass during our stay here too and I’ve got them in open jars and have noticed they’re collecting some dust.

    So far, we’ve found the Maeda Flats beaches to be the best for finding sea glass. We went there after the Songda typhoona and found TONS of sea glass all over the place!! Not sure if that had anything to do with the typhoon or if it’s always like that.

    Thanks for the great post!

    Tami
    Reply
  • June 28, 2011

    Great post!!

    I love sea glass!! I first discovered it when we visited Fort Bragg, CA. They have a beach called “Glass Beach” that has sea glass everywhere, but smaller pieces of it. It shimmers. I think it used to be a garbage dump(?). The pieces here are much bigger though. I have jars full too! :-D

    My friend and I also discovered sea “pottery.” It’s like sea glass, but appears to be broken plates and cups and has designs on it usually. It’s different and unique. We collect that too!

    Ashley
    Reply
  • June 28, 2011

    I somehow missed that you mentioned sea pottery as well. Haha. Sorry. I’m losing my mind. I find quite a bit of that too. The best places I’ve found for glass and pottery is WAYYY up north just pulling off the side of the road by the random beaches no one goes to because there is nothing else around.

    Ashley
    Reply
  • July 11, 2011

    This Past weekend we took a road trip up North to find Big Time & Ikei Beach. It was a beautiful and enjoyable ride but once we got to Big Time we were turned away by the staff there and not allowed to enter their beach. They didn’t speak to us nor could they really understand us ( they motioned in hand singnals with a “x” motion. we assumed it was because we were American or because we weren’t staying there.

    maggie Leverett
    Reply
  • October 4, 2011

    Does anyone know where I can find sand dollars?

    Meg
    Reply
  • October 5, 2011

    Never seen a sand dollar here, Meg – in over 4 years.

    Reply
    • October 15, 2011

      Thank you for the reply. I’m dissapointed…
      By the way, are you the photographer Aviva? If so, your pictures are amazing. I enjoy visiting your website from time to time to see your work.

      Meg
      Reply
  • October 15, 2011

    @Meg–there is a beach up near Schwab that has tons of sand dollars. If you know what you’re doing, you can find them buried. We went and found a whole bunch that had been dug up with broken backs. I need to try again when we can look for those that have not been broken.

    MH
    Reply
    • November 7, 2011

      Do you have directions to the “sand dollar” beach? It sounds like fun

      Nancy
      Reply
  • May 12, 2012

    @MH, WHere is this beach near Schwab with the sand dollars?

    Meaghan
    Reply
  • June 25, 2012

    To get to Sand-Dollar beach, take the Expressway or 329 to the Ginoza exit headed toward Camp Schwab. Take a right turn at Route 13 (it kind of “Ys” at 13) before you get to Schwab. Cross a small stream and a little bridge. Then count six alleys on the right as you pass slowly through the small village. Park at the sixth alley and get out. The beach is on the right about one block down the narrow alley. Enjoy the walk through the small village, as you will pass through the ages in a short period of time.

    Here are the directions I found online and we used to get there! I went the first time during high tide and I found about 4 sand dollars, but I went again last week during low tide (and after the typhoon) and I found over 50!!!

    Jennifer
    Reply
  • November 17, 2012

    Thanks for the directions, I just went this morning with my daughter and we found about 15 but only 4 were perfect, some have little holes and some holes were bigger but the best part was watchig my daughters face light up with excitement everytime she found one!!! There was also some amazing shells we picked up along the way…we will definately be going back again soon!

    Chantal
    Reply
  • February 10, 2013

    FYI, sand dollar beach is the “first” 13 toward Kushi not the second toward Toyohara when you’re traveling north on 329. It’s all one big loop, though.

    Amy
    Reply
  • May 26, 2013

    Great post! Does sea glass/pottery need to be cleaned in any special ways?

    Reply
  • December 26, 2013

    Just went today. Only found ones with holes in them :(. Great directions though.

    Erin
    Reply
  • January 4, 2014

    Hello everyone, Sanddollar beach is getting very popular now. Ive lived in Kushi village for five years and I love it here. I was shocked by the influx of all the American familys visiting our little beach. Most people are parking next to the little baiten(store)beside the 300-400 year old Gajimaru tree. Please park here and not beside the beach this parking is for the local residents. Also we have a small shrine called Kushi Kannondo. It has a stone carved Buddha that is belived to be over 400 years old it was brought from China during the Ryukyu Kingdom. Please visit this sacred place while your in Kushi. If you drive just past the village on 13 when you can see the beach on your right you can park on your left and walk past the barrier and follow the path up to your left and its at the top of the hill. Any time the locals are traveling somewhere we visit this shrine to ask for safe travles. Also every New Year we ring it in with the bell hanging beside it. Please remember this place is very special to the locals please respect it. You should remove your shoes if you enter it and leave a small offering with a prayer. And last but not least if you are heading up on a Saturday morning you should check out Gallivant Bakery in Gonoza Village they have fresh baked breads and coffee, with English speaking staff. Check out thier web site if your interested. http://galliva.net an English link is at the top right of the page. Thank you all for visiting Kushi Gua Mensore!

    Dan
    Reply
    • February 17, 2014

      Thanks for the info on the shrine and the tree. We visited both today.

      Grace
      Reply