Bermuda’s Glass Beach: Take no souvenirs!

(unless you're a local, and you're going to sell them to tourists, then it's okay)

Sea glass

Some days we have time to go on adventures, other days we don’t have as much time, but I have to go to the beach every available chance I get. I just have to. So, shortly after I joined this ship, my first mission was to locate all decent beaches in walking proximity to where the ship docks in Bermuda for adventure-time-restricted days. (They have some effing incredible beaches a fairly long bus ride away.) There are three beaches in walking distance to the ship. One is called “Snorkel Park” where 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’s the same one that becomes a dance club at night (read previous blog). Another one can barely be called a beach - it’s more a cove on the side of the road with lots of seagrass and crazy fish, where 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. 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). 

Shortly after I arrived on board, on a day when I didn’t have enough time to go to a more exciting beach, I had lunch with a random group of work friends and asked them if they would like to join me. They all agreed. So we went to Glass Beach. It was a bit strange but cool. 

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 don’t know, I just thought that was a bit random) and a burnt out boat. 

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 like these: 

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

Oh, 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 instagrams 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. Apparently, according to one website sea glass takes 30 - 40 years to get it’s 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 it’s own. 
  • The only way to really preserve Glass Beach is to continue dumping glass into the sea. - Except that would have other moral 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? 

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




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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.