Beachcombing For Beginners

July 17, 2015

Beachcombing For Beginners

3 minute read

Beachcombing is not just a relaxing pastime but a journey into the stories written by the sea. Every shell, driftwood, and piece of sea glass holds a tale of marine life, distant voyages, and the ocean's endless mysteries. Whether you're searching for edible seaweed, a rare fossil, or a heart-shaped stone, beachcombing offers a unique way to connect with nature and history. Here are our top ten treasures to look out for on your next coastal adventure, each with its own story to tell.

1. Shells

Look for shells that aren’t broken, and place them in tissue paper or bubble wrap to ensure that they don’t get damaged if you’re allowed to take them home from your local beach. UK Safari is a great resource for identifying shells, and common finds in the UK include Mussels, Razor Shells, Limpets and Periwinkles.

Beachcombing for Beginners: Shells

2. Animal footprints

There are many different species of wading birds, leaving easily-identifiable footprints when the tide is out. Look out for animal footprints, too, and cross-reference them at Nature Detectives.

3. Fossils

If you’re looking for fossils, Dorset is a fantastic place to start. With some of the most famous Jurassic locations in the world, and home to Lyme Regis, as well as the ammonite kingdom, there’s plenty to see! Find out more with this useful guide.

4. Seaweed

A nutritious addition to any meal and easy to find if you know what you’re looking for, learn how to forage for seaweed properly from The Guardian. 


5. Heart-shaped stones

Smoothed by the sea, heart-shaped stones are a beautiful creation of nature and a lovely way to bring a memento of your day at the beach into your home.

6. Driftwood

Driftwood can provide food and shelter for many species of birds and fish, and can be dried out to use for craft or in your garden. The best times to look are after high tide or a large storm.

7. Sea glass

A beautiful thing to behold, sea glass is formed when man made glass items such as broken bottles are smoothed and frosted by the waves over around 20-30 years.

8. Sea creatures

Often home to crabs and small fish, rock pools are a great place to start when looking for sea creatures. This handy guide from Wild England will help you identify what you find.

9. A message in a bottle

Did you know a message in a bottle has been reported to have been found 10,000 miles away from where it started? Keep your eye out for messages from strangers from afar, or send your own.

10. Treasure

Who knows what you’ll find!

Beachcombing is most effective just as the tide is going out. As the waters move back, a whole host of new treasures are left behind. Use a ClimeMET CM4305 Tide Clock to make sure you head out at the right time of day. Easy to set up, all you need to do is set your tide clock when it arrives and you’ll no longer need to keep checking the tide times online. Simply glance at your tide clock, and head out to the beach!

In order to beachcomb effectively, you will need to be well prepared! Make sure you take a hat and sun cream to protect you on sunny days, along with plenty of water. You may also want to bring or find a stick to sift through the sand for items buried just under the surface.

Remember, the most sustainable way to enjoy beachcombing is to take only photographs, and leave only footprints!

Beachcombing FAQs

1. What is the best time of day for beachcombing?

The best time to go beachcombing is during low tide. That's when the water pulls back, revealing all sorts of treasures along the shore. Check out local tide charts or get yourself a tide clock to plan your trip. Early mornings or late afternoons are also great because the beaches are usually less crowded then.

2. What tools or equipment should I bring for beachcombing?

To make your beachcombing adventure a success, here are a few things you might want to bring along:

  • A small bucket or bag for your finds.
  • Gloves to keep your hands safe.
  • A stick or small shovel for digging.
  • A guidebook or app to help identify shells, sea glass, and other items.
  • A camera to snap pictures of your discoveries.
  • Sunscreen, a hat, and plenty of water to stay safe and hydrated.

3. Are there any rules or regulations I should be aware of while beachcombing?

Yes, it's important to follow local rules to protect the environment. Here are some key points:

  • Only take a few specimens to avoid disturbing the ecosystem.
  • Don't remove live animals, plants, or large pieces of driftwood.
  • Pay attention to signs about protected areas or restricted items.
  • Always leave the beach cleaner than you found it by picking up any litter.

4. How can I identify my beachcombing finds?

Identifying your finds is part of the fun! Here are some tips:

  • Use field guides or mobile apps that focus on beachcombing and marine life.
  • Join online forums or social media groups where experienced beachcombers share their knowledge.
  • Visit local museums or nature centers that have displays and information about local coastal wildlife.
  • Take clear photos and note where you found each item to help with identification later.

5. What are some common beachcombing finds and their significance?

Beachcombing can turn up all sorts of interesting items. Here are a few common finds and what they mean:

  • Shells: They can tell you about the types of mollusks living in the area.
  • Sea Glass: These beautiful, smoothed pieces of glass have been shaped by the ocean over time.
  • Driftwood: It gives you clues about the types of trees and plants in the region and can serve as a habitat for various species.
  • Fossils: These offer a glimpse into the ancient history of the region.
  • Seaweed: Not only is it nutritious, but it's also an important part of the marine ecosystem.
  • Messages in Bottles: These fascinating finds can connect you with people from faraway places.