Sea Glass on the Outer Banks

by Renee H
(Easthampton, MA (USA))

photo by Robert Richard Shouse, Outer Banks

photo by Robert Richard Shouse, Outer Banks

Hi All! My family and I are newer sea glass hunters (started about 3 years ago) and are hooked!

We are taking a trip to the Outer Banks (NC) in a few weeks and are wondering if anyone had tips for hunting in that area (where to go, etc).

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!


Renee :)

Added Info on Outer Banks:

The Outer Banks are a long stretch of elongated, low-lying, sandy and marshy barrier islands off the Atlantic Coast of North Carolina, lying along more than half of the length of the coast for 200 miles.

These islands are of the type usually formed where rivers empty along the ocean coast. The rivers and streams have carried silt and sand for many thousands of years.

These deposits of sand and silt, kept in place by currents along the shores, gradually collect on the shallow ocean floor, building upwards. The stretch of water lying between barrier islands, or "banks" of sand remains clear and navigable and are usually known as "sounds."

The barrier islands along the Outer Banks offer a great place for summer relaxation and beach activities and are very popular with tourists. The year-round population, however, is very low due to the difficult access to mainland towns, stores, etc.

The sounds, inside of the protection of the barrier reefs, provide easy sailing and have been navigated for centuries. Unfortunately for sea glass hunters, there is little wave action on the inside parts of the islands and the islands are very marshy, with almost no opportunity for sea glass.

The open ocean side of the Outer Banks is much more likely to produce good sea glass with the constant wave action, but the sandy beaches tend to bury anything solid within a short time, leavng and glass shards untumbled and buried under many feet of sand.

That being said, shards that have been there a long time can be uncovered during storms, and some of these shards have had enough exposure to be frosted and tumbled.

For more information on why barrier islands like those that form the Outer Islands of North Carolina are relatively unproductive of sea glass, see Find Sea Glass - A Discussion of Land Features .

~ Added by David Schneider of ~

Comments for Sea Glass on the Outer Banks

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Jan 23, 2021
NC Island words seen in sea glass
by: Jay Greene

During recent trip to OBX from California My Wife found a piece of sea glass, where we could see the letters NC Island. I was wondering if anyone Knew the origins or company that made this, some other letters can be distinguished above the "NC Islsnd"

Jun 30, 2019
by: David

If you have found sea glass on the outer banks please post photos. There are a number of comments here but almost nobody posts photos of what they have found - is it frosted and tumbled? Or is it glass from last weeks college bash? LOL

Jun 23, 2019
Outer Banks sea glass
by: Kimberly

Hi there! I’ve been going to Frisco NC for the past 16 years. I find sea glass at the campground beach and the point, when it's open. Beach ramp 49!

Jan 23, 2018
beach comber
by: Anonymous

I walk the beaches of OBX daily and find a handful or so each time. Very rarely do I leave without at least one piece. You just have to know your tides, storms etc! we love the OBX!

Oct 16, 2015
by: >>>

Sep 30, 2014
Hit or miss
by: Anonymous

I just started collecting sea glass last year.

We vacationed in Hatteras last spring and I found several pieces (I always walk the Atlantic side, never tried on the Sound).

This summer we stayed in Corolla and I found a bunch of glass, mostly white, amber, and green but a few aqua and 1 cobalt blue piece too.

We are currently staying in Hatteras again and I have only found 1 piece of green so far.

It is really hit or miss but it's still fun to look.

Good luck :)

Jun 21, 2014
Found and lost a piece of green sea glass on Ocracoke Island
by: Anonymous

My husband and I went camping last week and to my surprise I found a 1 x 1-1/2" piece of green seaglass on Ocracoke beach during low tide.

I put the piece in my beach bag to separate it from the shells.

The next day I was not paying attention and forgot I left it there. We came home today and it was no where to be found!

I literally cried. I realized the day before we left the campground, I went to empty the sand out of the bag and shook it upside down.

My treasure is now gone. I am hoping to find another one next year.

Sep 30, 2013
Southern Shores
by: Vickie

I've owned an oceanfront house here for 17 years.

I've only found six little pieces of sea glass in all these years.

I think the decline of glass is due to bottles made of plastic for so many years.

Lots of jewelry sold as sea glass is actually glass tumbled with sand in a machine.
Oct 03, 2012
Keep looking
by: Anonymous

I find a piece daily walking the beach at afternoon low tide in the Rodanthe or Salvo locations.

I find all sizes, tiny pieces to rather big ones.

Jun 12, 2012
by: Anonymous

We have a second home in Corolla, but have only recently discovered the joys of sea glass searching...

my husband recently found a lovely dark green piece of glass about 2 x 2 inches and 1/3 inch thick with the letters "N" and "D" on it at the Currituck Beach.....

WE are having it bezel set at the Mystic Jewelry... but wonder about the source ...

the Jeweler said it was probably 60 years or older.... rolling around the ocean.

May 02, 2012
Outer Banks bust
by: Lewises

we've checked numerous places recommended by others and found only one or two pieces over an entire week of searching Nags Head, Pea Island, and Ocracoke Island on the Atlantic side.

Jul 17, 2011
Outer Banks Sea Glass
by: Sarah Jane

Hi, we go to the OBX every year.

We have found occasional pieces of sea glass - typically no more than 3 pieces during a week there.

We have had good luck on the northern (Pea Island) beaches of Hatteras, including the one at the Pea Island Lifesaving Station, at the base of the Bonner bridge.

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