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What Every Seaglasser MUST Know About Tides
May 05, 2014

Lin and I hope this letter finds you in good health. Or at least in reasonable health.

If you're getting on in years, I'd like to share a remark a friend made yesterday, "You're only old once, so enjoy it while you can."

It's nice listening to the sound of the ocean. Many songwriters have included lines bringing to mind the ocean, such as this familiar one.

First the tide rushes in
Plants a kiss on the shore
Then rolls out to sea
And the sea is very still once more…

~ lyrics from “Ebb Tide” by Carl Sigman


"Ebb Tide," written early in the past century, was recorded by many different artists including Frank Sinatra and the Righteous Brothers.

For seaglassers, the words may have more significance than to the average person.

We discuss that in this newsletter.

Here's what you'll find in this May 2014 edition of the Odyssey Sea GlassDavid and Lin

Huanchaco Peru for sea glass 2014 Newsletter.

What Every Sea Glasser Must Know About Tides

It is very important to know what the tides are like before you plan a sea glass hunting trip to an ocean shore.

There are two important reasons for knowing the time of the tides:

  1. Safety 

  2. Success

First, we’ll discuss these two reasons in general terms and then get a little more specific.

#1 Reason: Safety

Although the lyrics to the song quoted at the beginning of this newsletter state that the tide “plants a kiss on the shore,” in reality it may be a harsh and unwanted kiss. Why?

 It’s important to know the times of high and low tide at the particular beach you’ll be going to because some beaches are dangerous at high tide. No wants that kind of a kiss.

Tides will vary quite a bit from one beach to another, so be sure to get a tide chart report on the beach closest to your destination.sea glass and tides tidal change

~ Have you ever been on a narrow beach backed by cliffs with the tide coming in and a long hike (run) ahead of you? ~

If you have been in that position you are not alone. Many of us have faced a similar situation and some have had to be rescued by helicopter when the incoming tide closed off the only way out.

So, for safety reasons, you will need to know first if the beach poses any dangers at high tide, and second, what time is high tide.

#2 Reason for knowing the tides: Success

How much sea glass you find and how much enjoyment you get out of your seaglassing trip depends a lot on the tides.

For most ocean beaches, the best time to find sea glass is at low tide and the worst time is at high tide.sea glass and tides tidal change

So to plan a successful trip, you’ll want to schedule a day that includes at least a few hours when the tide is lowest.

What would be the ideal time to go based on tides? 

I popped that question to Lin and she immediately said, “Noon.” Then she thought a little and qualified it, saying "it would be noon in the winter but a little later in summer to take advantage of longer hours of daylight."

For safety reasons and also for the success and enjoyment of your trip, it is essential to know in advance the times of the local tides.

About Tidal Changes 

*(For more information on what causes tides, see our Sea Glass Newsletter of August 2013.)
  • Large tidal changes – approx. 6+ feet (2.0+m)

  • Medium tidal changes - 2-6 feet (1.0 to 2.0m)

  • Minimal tidal changes - 0-2 feet (0 to 0.6m)

About large tidal changes:

The biggest changes between high and low tides occur inside long bays opening on the ocean.

The tides cover and uncover huge stretches of shoreline twice a day. This allows a large sea glass search area that is constantly renewing the surface. 

At high tide, though, it may be difficult or impossible to find beach glass. You will need to checksea glass and tides tidal change the tides carefully to avoid dangerous conditions. 

The optimal time to start your search is when the tide is going out (falling or dropping). This will give you plenty of time to search before the tide comes back in and gets you.

The area with the largest tide changes in the world is at the Bay of Fundy in Canada. The Bay of Fundy is between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. At certain times of the year, the tide change is 53 feet (17 meters) .

In the United States, the largest tidal changes are near Anchorage,Alaska and run about 40 feet (12.2 meters).

In both these areas of Canada and Alaska, some good sea glass can be found. But you’ll definitely want to consult the locals about the dangers that might be involved..

About medium tidal changes:

Most ocean beaches will have tides in the medium range for most of the year. Depending on the phase of the moon/sun, these tides can vary quite a bit from week to week.sea glass and tides tidal change

Medium tides give a nice sea glass search area that is being constantly renewed. At high tide, there may be little or no exposed beach area to search. The best time to hunt for sea glass is when the tide is dropping. 

Many seaglassers like to start hunting about 3 hours before low tide. That gives a good 6 hours of time to search in the optimal section of the beach. 

When traveling to an ocean beach, always check the local tide tables (or ask a fisherman) in order to hit the beach on the best days and at the best times. A good source is

Islands in the middle of the ocean have smaller tidal ranges generally. Bays and inlets may have larger variations.

About small tidal changes

Lakes, even big ones, will have no noticeable tides. In areas with very little or no tidal change, the change in surface height of the water along the beaches is more affected by storms (high winds) than by tides, so the best time to search is after storms.


It is very important on beaches with tides to check the tide tables for that particular beach well ahead of your trip. Checking the tide tables well before planning your seaglassing excursion will ensure your safety and also give the best opportunity of finding good sea glass.

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