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Beachcombing Basics: Best Tips for Summer Fun on the Shore

Updated on May 2, 2015

Beachcombing at its best!

You can't be afraid to get your toes wet!
You can't be afraid to get your toes wet! | Source

The excitement of beachcombing

Who can resist dipping their toes into the cool lapping shore on a hot summer’s day, or walking the edge of an ocean beach when the surf rolls onto the sand? If you are like me, you won’t refuse beachcombing when the call beckons.

There is a child-like magic to beachcombing. Perhaps it is the idea of finding treasure that appeals to us. Or, maybe it transforms us to days of long ago when pirates roamed the coasts and ships sank in stormy waters, which bring a hope that we will find something worthwhile.

Whatever our personal reasons beachcombing is an activity that completely engrosses us-mind, body, and spirit. For all of the obvious reasons, it is a physical activity: you have the walking, the bending, and perhaps even some climbing over sand dunes or rocks.

It is also, a mental activity-you decide where to comb, how long and when. Thus, it takes some planning-unless you are out for the day and are meandering along. Those moments of spontaneity are as enriching as any detailed plans. And, by relaxing into your project you are energized and your emotional battery is recharged.

Finally, it is a spiritual experience because there is an exchange occurring: your presence, as Anne Morrow Lindbergh so eloquently described in her book, Gift from the Sea, is receiving what the waters have brought to you…the lessons are yours to explore. It is this awe in the nature of things greater than oneself, and the mystery in its creation manifested in an assortment of sea treasures, which have always delighted me.

Grace's Treasure Discovery

A live starfish
A live starfish | Source

Beachcombing treasures

A display of shells and beach stones
A display of shells and beach stones | Source
Colorful stripes adorn the outside of these shells
Colorful stripes adorn the outside of these shells | Source
Beach stones create a sense of peace
Beach stones create a sense of peace | Source

What to look for:

Shells-there are so many shells to discover in the ocean beds and along the shores of fresh water lakes. There are books to explore in between the beach combing activities, which help to identify the different sea creatures: the mollusks, sea urchins, sponges, starfish, etc.

Stones-In Northern Michigan Petosky stones are a nice find for a display. Or, place a variety of stones of different shades together in a glass bowl.

Driftwood-this can be found along the shores of any coastline or lakeshore.

Sea Glass-colored glass, broken up and smoothed from the sand and surf, are a wonderful find. Many people turn these castoffs into beautiful pieces of jewelry or mosaic art displays.

Miscellaneous-who knows what you may find on your treasure walk. One friend recently shared that her husband discovered an old buoy on their romantic walk together and toted it home, barnacles and all. He later surprised her with it as a gift, cleaned and cleverly displaying several scenes of their seashore walk through the artwork of her sister.

Beautiful aquatic gems

Turquoise beach glass necklace and earrings on silver setting.
Turquoise beach glass necklace and earrings on silver setting. | Source
Pink cultured pearl in silver heartshaped cage.
Pink cultured pearl in silver heartshaped cage. | Source

Jewelry from aquatic treasures

At a very early age shells and stones have appealed to me-shells for the intricacy and fragility of their structure; stones for their strength. I have a seaside motif in my bathrooms, and collections of shells and stones throughout my home, which bring to me pleasant memories and relaxation.

My aquatic gem collection comes in the form of jewelry. I received a necklace and earring set of beach glass from my youngest daughter who bought it at a summer art show. It is turquoise blue in a silver setting. A second necklace from both daughters was a birthday gift: a pink cultured pearl in a silver open ball.

How to display your beachcombing finds:

1. Jewelry

2. Wreaths

3. Vases

4. Bases for lamps

5. Glass bowls

6. Shadow boxes

7. Jewelry boxes

8. As a single display

What to bring:

1. Sunglasses, sunscreen, protective clothing, such as a hat or sun visor.

2. Containers-two will do: one for trash and one for treasures.

3. Footwear-flip flops, while fun at the poolside, may get swept off your feet by rough water. I prefer beach shoes.

4. Camera-with a neck strap to keep it safe when you move around. If you encounter something that is not legally removable you can still remember it by photographing it.

5. Metal detector: for those treasure hounds that love this hobby.

6. A watch-optional of course.

7. A protein bar or other small easy to carry food item if you will be gone long-optional.

8. Water to keep hydrated.

Tips to enhance your beachcombing experience

1. Oceanside beachcombing will often bring up the best finds after a storm and when tides recede. Watch the weather reports and exercise caution if waters are still turbulent.

2. Go early-being the first on the beach allows you the pick of the crop.

3. Be prepared-have your equipment ready to go when you are. (see list of equipment)

4. Do not disturb the natural habitats of the sea creatures; endangered species; or eco-system.

5. Do not litter, and pick up trash that others have left behind.

6. Take only what you can easily carry and use…hoarding becomes a burden.

7. Treasures can be cleaned using one part water, one part bleach. Use a dental pick or water pick on barnacles and other hard to remove items.

In the end, the results of a day of beachcombing can be both relaxing and invigorating. What we bring home will be a joy to share in the sanctuary of our homes and take pleasure in for days to come. No matter how we choose to display or share our treasures they are sure to bring back happy memories of an adventure at the beach.

A job well done!

A good day of beachcombing brings satisfaction
A good day of beachcombing brings satisfaction | Source

Clearwater Beach, Florida, USA

Clearwater Beach, FL:
Clearwater Beach, Clearwater, FL, USA

get directions

Beachcombing along the shore of Clearwater Beach.


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    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      I love your enthusiasm, Nell. I almost rented a detector but forgot and we are halfway into our holiday. I have another big container of shells and polished stones to sort through, and a couple of fossils. My granddaughter and I went to a gem store nearby and we sorted through all of their beach glass. It was fun.

      Having a ball here with my youngest daughter and her family. I'm at the beach called the Outer Banks and it is divided into sections. We are in Nags Head, but will be exploring the other areas, including Blackbeard's haunts. :) Thanks for stopping by.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      6 years ago from England

      Hi Denise, I loved this! I am a great big kid when it comes to beach combing, I find lots of shells to bring home to add to my boxes, makes them really lovely and colorful, I also look out for fossils, I am fossil mad! I even get the old detector out, and one day found a gold ring! and that was without the detector! lol! bring on the holiday! voted up and shared! nell

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks for your sweet comments, RT. My gosh, those cute little babies are growing up way too fast! Now they are geocaching!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Just excellent--enjoy, respect, and hold on to the memories! Though beach combing is for all ages, am Pinning to my Children's Activities… board because it is important to teach them these things as we enjoy the activities with them, and besides, these babies are too cute not to pin. :)

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks so much, Suzette-I appreciate your comments. :) Any day on the beach is a wonderful time...even just listening to the waves wash ashore.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 

      6 years ago from Taos, NM

      Love this hub! You offer some great ideas on what to do with natures "gifts" from the sea and beach. Clearwater Beach is such a great beach to visit and do some 'beach combing'. Very laid back and relaxing hub.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Hello Wisdom-I'm excited for YOU and your son, ha ha. Thanks for your comments. :) Enjoy the ocean.

    • wisdom25 profile image

      Maurice Wisdom Bishop 

      7 years ago from San Tan Valley

      Hey Denise, I love your hub and I can't wait when I go to Ocean City Maryland next week for the beach. I'm definitely going to the beach early in the day and probably have my son digging for shells and stones. He's already excited about it and has his own mini aquarium tank so he can collect shells and rocks. lol..Again great hub and much love and respect

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Derdriu-It's nice to see you. Thanks so much for your lovely comment. Those two little beachcombers are my youngest two grandchildren: Grace and Alex.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Denise, The aquatic gems are beautiful. The turquoise beach glass is spectacular, and the pearl is elegant!

      Respectfully, and with many thanks for sharing your experiences and photos, Derdriu

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Teresa, I'm so glad that you are enjoying your beachcombing experience. I wish you many happy days of discovery. :) Thanks for stopping by.

    • Teresa Schultz profile image

      Teresa Schultz 

      7 years ago from East London, in South Africa

      I've only recently become more interested in beachcombing, and am thoroughly enjoying it - you're certainly right about it being exciting and magical.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks Gerg-my pleasure; the models are my two youngest grandchildren.

    • Gerg profile image


      8 years ago from California

      Ah...thank you for another Gift from the Sea, Denise! Nicely written and fun pics ~


    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi mts-happy beach combing to you. maybe you'll find some valued treasure to hang in your man cave, haha. thanks for your comments

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I have to say that I got relaxed just reading this...My next beach visit I will be combing myself...cheers

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks Sholand-glad that the hub brought back memories of a fun time.

    • sholland10 profile image

      Susan Holland 

      8 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      I just got back from beach combing in Alabama. As I read, your descriptions it took me back to the beach. You are so right. When you are on the beach, you become so engrossed in the beach and the waves that relaxation just takes over.

      Those little ones make it even more fun. My kids aren't little any more, but I take so much joy in seeing the wonder in their eyes when little ones are combing the beach with their parents. Awww... I miss the beach!!

      Great hub. UP and AWESOME and BEAUTIFUL!!! :-)

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks manthy-it actually was fun trying to set the lay out in a different format than what I usually do to make it more appealing. Glad to know it worked. Those cuties in the photo are my grandkids. :)

    • manthy profile image


      8 years ago from Alabama,USA

      WOW - I loved this hub, I just got back from Gulf Shores,Ala and I did some major beach combimg the 2 weeks I was there.

      Good pictures and a very nice lay-out

      This hub is loaded woth useful info

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Rock_nj--I fooled, I'm not from Joisey, but originally from MI. :) Nice to meet you--be sure to check out a neighbor of yours here: The Clean Life, also from NJ

      Ann-LOL what can I say? Congrats to you and I see that you are ahead of me in the count. My daughter cara, (cardelean) is also a contender so my vote went to her. :) Talk with you later. I'm excited that my new job will be starting very soon, so I'm not sure how badly I will fail at the 30 hubs challenge again! hahaha

    • annmackiemiller profile image


      8 years ago from Bingley Yorkshire England

      Brings back such wonderful memories. Voted up and stuff. Congrats on being shortlisted for the contest, you got my vote. :0)

    • Rock_nj profile image

      John Coviello 

      8 years ago from New Jersey

      Nice Hub! Since you used "shore", instead of ocean or beach, does that mean you are originally from New Jersey? I thought the word shore was used almost exclusively in New Jersey to describe a trip to the ocean?

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks AK-and congrats to you as well. You are an Awesome writer-with a capital 'A', LOL I love my little beachcombers here-they are off playing in Sesame Street land this week with their mom and dad. :)

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Washington

      How adorable the pictures are~ Great beachcombers! I love the beach so thanks for the virtual trip there this afternoon! Congrats in getting into the contest and good luck!!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hello acaetnna-come on over, LOL Thanks for reading and commenting. Hanging out at the beach is so much fun!

    • acaetnna profile image


      8 years ago from Guildford

      The beach is always an inspiration for me and so is this hub, brilliant. Now all we need in England is the weather to match. There again I guess we'll need a trip abroad this year!!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Paradise-thanks for your comment. It is so much fun, isn't it?

    • Paradise7 profile image


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Lovely hub...we all loved to go shelling on the seashore!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Gail-I'm so glad you enjoyed the hub and found the link, LOL Thanks for all of your entusiastic comments!

      Thanks Husky for reading and commenting. I agree about the weather-its been unbearable here in NC. The beach is the best place to be!

      Danette-thanks for the comment. You know, I do the same thing-I have sand and soil from other places I've lived.

      Thanks b.malin for your comments. I appreciate your feedback.

      Hi Robin-I absolutely LOVE California, although the Pacific is so much colder than the Atlantic. I'm happy to be on the east coast with the warm waters here. :) Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi K9-wow! Thanks for the great feedback. Glad you enjoyed it. :)

      Thanks Mrs. M--those two cuties are my two youngest grandkids of the four. :)

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 

      8 years ago from San Francisco

      This is a wonderful Hub! You gave great advice and wonderful, adorable pictures as well. :D My parents live in Avila Beach, CA and it's the best vacation spot for our kiddos. They love combing the beach and going in the water, even though it's too cold for me! Hopefully, we'll all make it to Florida someday! Cheers!

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 

      8 years ago

      The Beach is so Inspirational, no matter how Old we get...we have a saying on the Jersey Shore, never get the Sand out of your Shoes...It Never leaves and back you come EVERY Summer for more! Wonderful Hub Denise with beautiful Photos and Shared Thoughts!

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 

      8 years ago from Illinois

      Love the photos here. I have a number of shells we picked up when we lived in Mississippi and I even saved a plastic container of sand from the beaches along the Gulf Coast.Voted up and beautiful.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I love this hub. A great topic in this 90 degree weather we are having on Martha's Vineyard. The beach is the place to be. Voted up and awesome.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      8 years ago from South Carolina

      I LOVE this hub and especially the pictures of those adorable grandkids who look like they're already beachcombing pros!

      I also enjoyed "discovering" the link you added to my old buoy hub and am going to create a link back to here so my readers can take advantage of your excellent beachcombing tips.

      Anne Morrow Lindburg's "Gift From the Sea" is a great book to read while actually on vacation. I remember reading it in the Outer Banks and it really enhanced my appreciation of being at the beach.

      Am rating this hub up, awesome, useful and beautiful!

    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image

      Mrs. Menagerie 

      8 years ago from The Zoo

      I used to love beach's been a while since I have been to the beach. Great hub and darling little ones!

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 

      8 years ago from Northern, California

      I fell instantly in love with your tiny Beachcombing guides! How cute are these two! Such awesome information and advice for the perfect shoreline treasure hunt. I found the pointers on how to "display" and "what to look for" a brilliant component to this hub! I love the image of that live starfish, very cool! Nice job as always Denise!

      Up and awesome my friend!


    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Cara-thanks for hitting the hub so quickly, LOL oh-and for loaning me your photos, too. :)

      Hi Susan-isn't it the most relaxing activity? Thanks for reading.

      Simone-grab those kids and your camera and jump in the car-the shoreline is calling, LOL Thanks your comments.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      8 years ago from San Francisco

      Wow Denise Handlon! You're a beach combing PRO!!! I'm going to take your tips to the beach as soon as I can- I never was good at finding cool things, but now I've got insider expertise ;)

      Maybe I can bring my nice and nephew along- this does look like a great thing to do with young kids :D

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Your hub brings back so many good memories for me from my childhood. Thanks so much. Up and awesome!

    • cardelean profile image


      8 years ago from Michigan

      Very nicely compiled list of what to look for, how to prepare and how to display your treasures. It definitely is a body, mind, and spiritual experience. I love the photos too!


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