Everything you need to know about Bermuda’s Glass Beach

Sea glass in Bermuda

Bermuda has some of the most incredible beaches I have ever seen. And I have to go to the beach every available chance I get. I just have to. 

Shortly after I joined this ship, my first mission was to locate all decent beaches in walking proximity to where the ship docks in Kings Wharf, Bermuda for adventure-time-restricted days when I don’t have time to go to the really nice ones. 

There are three beaches in walking distance from Kings Wharf: 

  1. The first one is called Snorkel Park. Here, a large number of cruise ship guests stand really far apart from each other in a small beach area near a fort and hold conversations by shouting to each other over everyone else's conversations, while also swimming in each other’s pee. (It’s not very relaxing). It also becomes a dance club at night. 
  2. Another one can barely be called a beach - it’s more a cove on the side of the road with lots of seagrasses and crazy fish. Here, people on scooter tours stop every so often to take pictures, space themselves out to shout converse what to do next, and occasionally bother you to take a photo of them when they don’t feel like using their effing selfie-sticks. So it varies from being sporadically relaxing and unpredictably annoying. 
  3. Between these two is a beach called 'Glass Beach'. 

It is called Glass Beach because it is covered with sea glass. It is a 30-minute walk (27 according to google maps) in the blistering humid heat of Bermuda from the port, but that is entirely doable when you think of the Instagrams you could take! (The scooter people are rubbing off on me.) 

If you find a sign that warns that you could be fined for removing any of the sea glass, you are at the right place. There is a railing on the stairs leading down to the beach that looks like it’s been made by discarded items nailed together. Somewhere near the bottom of the steps is a glass jaguar/puma (I thought that was a bit random) and a burnt-out boat. 

Pics that did not make my Instagram:

Glass Jaguar / Puma

Glass beach

There is sand on the beach but obviously, no one photographs that. No one. No, we all take pics of the glass. 

Pics that did make my Instagram:

Sea glass and flower

Glass Beach

Sea Glass
(Okay, not everyone photographs their own personal plastic flamingo, but other than that!)

I also took this pic which in no way relates to the fact that the beach is covered in glass but I quite like it:

Sea Glass

It also has cool rocks. 

Glass beach
(It’s like a metaphor)

My favourite thing about the beach, apart from the sight of the sea glass, was the sound of the sea glass. As the waves (well, ripples - they’re little) crash on the shore, it makes a tinkling sound.

After I posted my photos online, my mom asked me if I took any pieces for her. I told her signs warned that you could be fined for stealing the glass and I’m way too well-behaved to do something like that. She was disappointed so I started contemplating if I should have. She also asked where the glass came from so I did some googling. According to one website, sea glass takes 30 - 40 years to get its frosted appearance, another said 7 - 10. When trying to find out specifically where this beach’s sea glass came from, I stumbled upon one of those websites where uptight people get enraged over things and debate an issue from the same side. One lady was upset that cruise ship tourists were leaving the beach with “Bucket loads” of sea glass and this was destroying what should be preserved for future generations. I have now been there twice and on both occasions, apart from the people I was with, we had the beach entirely to ourselves. - No tourists harvesting bucket loads of sea glass. I haven't even seen any cruise ship tourists with buckets, to be honest, but I definitely didn’t want to be one of those horrible people who destroy things. 

I searched on and found that apparently, they used to separate and burn their garbage in the 60s / 70s and glass and china were dumped into the sea. Years later it started washing up and Glass Beach became a thing. Basically, the environment that they're trying so hard to preserve is actually a direct result of man-made pollution. 

So, to recap:

  • If you don’t steal the glass, with enough time it will disintegrate all on its own. 
  • The only way to really preserve Glass Beach is to continue dumping glass into the sea. - Except that would have other environmental ethical implications. (And I’m sure glass recycling is probably more viable and lucrative now than it was all those years ago.)
  • If this somewhat man-made feature is so precious to you that you don’t want tourists stealing it, why is it okay for the locals to harvest it and sell it to those same tourists as jewellery? (There are a number of sea glass jewellery stores around.)   
  • And finally, who says it’s even glass discarded into the sea in the first place and not the crystallised tears of mermaids as the legend says? Okay, sometimes they’re shaped like bottles, but maybe the local merfolk population are just as dramatic as their bloggers?
So do I bring my mom a piece of sea glass or should I just help myself to a large non-sea-glass but still glass jaguar thing? 

In other news:

You know how sometimes you go shopping and you find something you really like and then when you check the price and see that it’s much cheaper than you anticipated, instead of being overjoyed that you found a bargain, you start to question whether or not you should get it after all because, at that price, how long could it possibly last? That’s how I felt when I purchased a plastic lawn ornament from a supermarket in Alabama in 2010 for $2.50. 

Since then, Rodrigo has lost his legs, and found them again in the Turks and Caicos. He left an eye on a Virgin Atlantic flight, which was replaced. He lost another eye in Norway which was replaced with an eye tattoo when he was nearly compacted in Germany and recycled in 2015. More recently, he lost another eye on a Qatar Airways flight between Doha and Boston. I am going to need to find a way to replace that one. He just looks weird. His nose melted off in Venice during the summer of 2011. It was repainted and has peeled off again. He also lost his black legs earlier this year in the US Virgin Islands. They were replaced by some nice Polish people with two new pairs. He left his copper pair in South Africa and is currently traveling with his chrome pair. He has also faded a lot. The thing has required some maintenance, but on the whole, I think I got my money’s worth. 

Rodrigo has just visited his 40th country, Bermuda, since he began his travels. He has been to four continents with me (North America, South America, Europe and Africa), and I’m guessing by the branding on his body “Made in China”, a fifth one without me. We are currently on a ship between Boston and Bermuda but the itinerary is scheduled to change in the next few months. If things go according to plan (depending on my work schedule), he could hit 50 by the end of the year. - Not too bad for a bird whose wings are moulded into his body!

Rodrigo at Horseshoe Bay, Bermuda

5 cruises down, 20 to go
Kilometres walked: 4,8




Sharon Waugh

Sharon is a writer, cruise ship entertainment host and freelance unicorn wrangler, living it up on the high seas. She also likes to photograph a plastic lawn flamingo in exotic locations because it seemed like a good idea 10 years ago and 53 countries later, it’s probably too late to turn back now.

 Sharon greatly dislikes reading “travel blogs” by people who are just rephrasing press releases or composing lists like “15 ways to travel the world for cheap”, specifically formulated for SEO, with absolutely no evidence that the writer has ever left their bedroom. (This is not one of those blogs.) Sharon also dislikes bigotry and referring to herself in first person, apparently.

To find out more about Sharon and Rodrigo’s travel aspirations read this.

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