Guide to Beach Combing





Introduction: Guide to Beach Combing

I know it seems simple, you go to the beach, look for shiny things, put them in your pocket, then continue on your merry way. You could do it that way, but if you follow my Guide to Beach Combing, you will get the most out of your experience.

*These are all my own photos.
*This Instructable was improved thanks to suggestions from other members of

Step 1: Gear

You will need:

Proper foot wear
Flip flops will suffice, but I wear my felt bottomed scuba booties because they provide excellent protection against sharp objects, plus they grip slippery surfaces.

I try to take two bags with me. One plastic shopping bag and one canvas bag. You'll see the reasoning behind this later.

Sun Screen or protective clothing
Just do it. It won't kill you to wear it. It could kill you to not. This holds true even if you don't live in the tropics or sub-tropics.

Camera (optional)
It needs to have a neck strap or fit in your pocket. You don't want to drop it while you're bending over to pick up your treasures.

Metal Detector (optional)

Step 2: The Rules

Rule 1: Absolutely NEVER should you kill or take a live animal with you. This includes starfish, crabs, fish, turtles, etc. If it's already dead, then go ahead. Also, be aware of your state's endangered species restrictions. If you're not sure what it is, then don't mess with it. This includes some plants. THIS is why you brought your camera along.

Rule 2: Exercise caution! Please be aware of wild life, hazardous trash,slippery surfaces, weather, the sea condition, etc...

Rule 3: If you're going to take something, please make sure that object isn't someone's home. You'd be surprised at what crabs like to make their little houses out of. I've even seen them use plastic sports bottle caps. (I did NOT have my camera on me, sadly.)

Rule 4: Do you remember that plastic grocery bag I mentioned? While you're digging for treasure, you will most likely come across some trash. If you simply pick up whatever garbage you find, you'll be leaving that beach more beautiful and safe than it was when you got there. What a nice feeling!

Step 3: When?

Ideal conditions for beach combing are as follows:

during the winter
early in the morning
a low or receding tide
right after a storm

I know it's not always possible to combine all 4 ideal conditions. The most important of these guidelines is that you get there first. It's like going to the flea market. If you get there before everyone else, you've got the best selection. If a storm happened to pass the night before, it probably churned up a lot of interesting and rarer things for you to see. During low tide, there is much more sand to scour, plus you've got a "fresh" selection to choose from. When the weather is least desirable in the winter months, you may happen upon a spot that hasn't been perused by humans in days or weeks.

Safety Reminder: When beach combing after a storm, use caution and common sense. If the ocean looks rough, don't go anywhere near the water. Even if you think you're keeping a safe distance, you never know when a rogue wave can come along and knock you into some rocks, or worse, drag you in. Please check your local weather forecast for the sea condition if you're unsure. I know that if you live near the ocean, you probably know this already, but for the tourists, I want to make it clear that the ocean is extremely powerful.

Step 4: All You!

The rest is all up to you. It's preferable that you "take only pictures and leave only foot prints", but so long as you abide by "the rules" and come prepared, you're in good shape.

Personally, I'm attracted to Sea Glass. It's technically trash, so I don't feel bad for taking almost every piece I see. I have also been known to grab various shells, drift wood, urchin skeletons, and I recently found my first dead starfish. One of these days I'll make something out of my collection and post an instructable on that too. I promise no glitter and googly eyes.

If you have any projects featuring your finds from the shore, or any other tips, please post them. I may eventually post a "how to" for cleaning my little treasures.



    • Game Life Contest

      Game Life Contest
    • Oil Contest

      Oil Contest
    • Water Contest

      Water Contest

    93 Discussions

    Will you take contract Jobs, Last Friday 11-25-16 I lost my Iphone in a water proof bag in 1.5 feet of water on a lightly traveled beach north of Jaco Costa Rica. there is a cool Hundred bucks US to the finder.

    Now you know all the things to do in Miami and especially about all the things to do in Miami Beach. We are equipped to provide you with equipment and booking options to partake in every kind of activity while visiting the city.

    we have flyboarding as well!

    So grab your swimsuit and some sunscreen and prepare yourself for the Miami Beach experience with WAHOOA.COM!

    It is time to take the adventure to the next level, call us today!


    Airboat Tours


    Jet Ski Rentals

    Now you know all the things to do in Miami and especially about all the things to do in Miami Beach. We are equipped to provide you with equipment and booking options to partake in every kind of activity while visiting the city.

    we have flyboarding as well!

    So grab your swimsuit and some sunscreen and prepare yourself for the Miami Beach experience with WAHOOA.COM!

    It is time to take the adventure to the next level, call us today!


    Airboat Tours


    Jet Ski Rentals

    best tip I have from years of beach combing is focus your efforts on the strandline . . . . .marking left by the high water mark of ordinary tidal action . .. . and is typically composed of the majority of debris left by high tide

    A few years ago, I saw on television where a couple had used sea glass to tile their snack bar. It was beautiful!

    Sea glass Is very abundant in the outer banks of North Carolina, especially topsail island.

    Some people like to 'throw back' the living creatures they find. PLEASE DON'T!!Doing so can dislodge the tennant and kill them. If you want to put them back in the water that is fine, just be gentle. walk them in as far as you can and set them down gently. Thank you!

    There are people with metal detectors as well as other devices and techniques that earn quite a living on beaches. Hard core beach hunters can take in $30,000 per year or more on average. Rest assured there are very, very few people who will talk about this and books will be of limited use as well.

    2 replies

    glorybe, Please fill me in. Why won't beachcombers talk about it? Income tax? And why won't the books be helpful? I am a serious scavenger at heart. I don't limit myself to the beach, but like you, when I am at the beach - I go for the beach glass. I don't have as many opportunities as I would like to do any scavenging anywhere, but I love it. Have you seen that show on cable? "Cash & Treasures"? There are organizations and places where you can go to 'comb' for the items left by early settlers, pioneers, that kind of thing. Sounds like a blast. But anyway what's the story with the secrecy of the combers? Thanks. Ann PS - I am very jealous that you live on Okinowa. I lived in the Philippines for three years when I was a teenager and loved it. It really was paradise. When I see things on TV about Corregidor and the action there during WW ll, I wish I have been more mindful of the treasures to be found on those beaches and in those tunnels. I don't mean live ordinance, but artifacts from the American soldiers who had been there. It is probably more restricted now, but when we used to go to the Corregidor in the early 70s, we had complete freedom to wander the island.

    Heh, competition. You don't want to increase the number of people in your area that are beachcombers. if anyone is profiting from finding stuff it's kinda like getting something for nothing, and when you come upon a benefit like that it's best not to let others know.

    Like this.^^ Went to Malta (a small country between Italy and Afrika) many yrs ago and found much sea glass. ^^ And your pics made me wish travelling to the beach and especially to Japan again.

    Awesome Instructable! Bringing a metal detector could also be great help. You took amazing photos, and that fish looks really sparkly! And the last image... sea glass. What's that? I don't think I've heard of that.

    8 replies

    Thanks!! The metal detector idea popped in my head about as soon as I clicked "publish". I figured I would get some good suggestions in my comments, so I'll add that to the instructable later.

    Sea Glass (also known as Beach Glass) is the result of a piece of broken glass being tumbled in the ocean for many years (50 to a 100 to be precise). The sand, salt and motion of the sea grind it down until the edges become smooth like a river stone and the whole piece has a frosted look. I think it's awesome. People make all kinds of things out sea glass, but jewelry is one of my favorites. I would make my own, but I don't have a diamond drill bit.

    Here's some more info on Sea Glass
    You can also go to and do a search for people' s beautiful sea glass creations.

    You can get a diamond drill bit at McMaster Carr for about $60. They also have diamond files, and generally deliver next day

    I ordered some online a few days ago, but I only paid 20 bucks (plus shipping) for a set of a few different sizes. I needed some very small ones for jewelry making, which may be why they were so cheap. They're from a reputable company, so we'll see how good they are when I get them.

    If you ask your dentist he might give you his used diamond bits for nothing - they get through quite a few and most are still OK. And if the idea of using a drill that's been through someone's teeth doesn't appeal, ask him for the address of his supplier because they are actually quite cheap. Also they are real professional quality. I once got some pricey diamond burrs which were sold in a DIY store for use with high speed mini-drills, and I wore out three trying to trim a bathroom tile.

    That's exciting! Good luck, post some pictures of your designs (or link if you are doing Esty)

    Thanks! That was the plan! I opened an Etsy shop about 2 weeks ago, but there's nothing in it yet...guess I should have planned that out a little better :P