Trash turned into treasure can best describe beach glass, those beautifully frosted gems of the sea that were once part of a littered soda bottle or old fruit jar. They’re hot items for beachcombers across global shorelines, including right here in Hawaii, where colorful specks of blues, jades and ambers decorate sandy beaches and tide pools.

I’ll admit that I’m obsessed with beach glass. While most of my friends are crouching over shell piles, I’m searching the water’s edge for chips of tumbling beach glass. It’s common to find brown and green colored beach glass in Hawaii, which points a finger at Heinekens and Bud Lights, otherwise known as Hawaii’s go-to beers. Beers at the beach? Let’s just say you’re likely to find the most beach glass at the “cruise party” spots.

But the source of glass doesn’t always come from beer bottles. It can come from jars, plates, windshields, windows and ceramics. Basically anything that may have traveled here by boat or ocean currents or, sadly, may have been carelessly dumped in the sea.

How does this trash turn into treasure? The elements of nature – including the ocean, waves, sand, rocks – take care of that, wearing down once sharpened edges of glass and giving them a smooth rounded finish. Some have a nice etched, frosty appearance, which tells us they’ve been tumbling along the ocean floor for a while.

Our blog has had an ongoing discussion about collecting seashells versus collecting rocks as island souvenirs. Definitely don’t bring home any rocks; it’s not illegal, just believed to bring bad luck. But I don’t see anything wrong with taking a few shells or pieces of beach glass home with you – whether “home” be an ocean away or a few streets away.

The main thing to remember while beach combing in Hawaii or abroad is to be respectful to the ocean, to the animals and to other beachcombers. Take a few as souvenirs, but avoid the temptations of going overboard. It’ll just mean slim pickings for everyone else, including yourself, the next time you’re in the islands! Happy hunting!


  1. When I was still a little girl, my family went to Hawaii. Everytime we’re in the beach, my sister always have this small jay filled with beach glass. I wonder what she’ll do to them, until one day when we’re home, she turned those beach glasses into a tile and have it framed, hanged it in her wall. Beautiful!

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