Everything you need to know about Bermuda’s Glass Beach


Sea glass in Bermuda

Back in the day before glass recycling was what it has now become, people discarded glass into the sea. There were often specific places where they would do this repeatedly. The motion of the sea would wear away the glass’s rough corners and shiny exterior and dump it onto the beach forming a number of glass beaches around the world. One of these is located in Bermuda. 

Working on a cruise ship that visits Bermuda for three days every week, I have now been there twice. I have to go to the beach every available chance I get, so I usually make it my mission to locate all decent beaches in walking proximity to where my ship docks for adventure-time-restricted days.  When I don’t have time to go to the really nice beaches I’ll take whatever I can get. That’s how I stumbled upon Glass Beach.

If you would like to visit this slowly disintegrating not-so-natural wonder, here’s how:


How to find Bermuda’s Glass Beach

Bermuda is an island (or a group of islands) in the North Atlantic. This country only has a population of 65 000 and yet, according to a google search I conducted, it receives over 500 000 visitors each year from cruise ships alone. (Updated in 2019.) When cruise ships visit this country, they dock in one of three places, the Royal Navy Dockyard at the west (or at the start of the Nike swish the country resembles), at Hamilton, the country’s capital (in the middle) or at St. George’s on the East (or at the end of the Swish). Only the Royal Navy Dockyard can accommodate large cruise ships and so if you are cruising to this country you are likely to end up there.  


Cruise ship port Royal Navy Dockyard / Kings Wharf

This is a good thing if you want to visit Glass Beach.

Horseshoe Bay is probably Bermuda’s most famous beach and one of the attractions that draws tourists to this destination in the first place. Located on the south-west of the country, cruise ship guests can get to this beach by a short bus ride from the Royal Navy Dockyard. As this is a more common attraction (and a much bigger beach) Glass Beach is only visited by a small few. 


Getting there:

From the Royal Navy Dockyard

  • Taxi: You could probably negotiate with one of the drivers from the many mini-buses talking tourists to Horseshoe bay to drop you off at Glass Beach on the way. 
  • Public Bus: Not too far from the pier is a place where you can buy bus tokens. I’m not sure that Glass Beach is on the Bus route but it will definitely get you a lot closer to it if you’re not up for the walk. 
  • On foot: Glass Beach is a 30-minute walk (28 according to google maps) in the blistering humid Summer heat of Bermuda from the port. (But that is entirely doable when you think of the Instagrams you could take!) Sunscreen and water are essential. 


From Hamilton or St. Georges:
Each town has a ferry that will take you to the Royal Navy Dockyard where you can follow the steps above. This may be dependent on the day of the week as some do not operate on Sundays.
From Hamilton, you can also take the public bus to the Royal Navy Dockyard and get off just before you get to its final stop. (I would download an offline map that makes use of GPS to track my location so I know when I’m close.)


When you get there

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. 

From the outside, there is not much to look at. 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. 

Photos that did not make my Instagram


Glass Jaguar / Puma


Glass beach


Just beyond that, however, you will find this: 

Photos that did make my Instagram

Sea glass and flower

Glass Beach

Sea Glass

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.

It also has cool rocks!

Glass beach
(It’s like a metaphor)

Other beaches in walking distance

While Glass Beach is beautiful to look at, it’s not the best place to swim. (Walking over the pebbles and glass hurts.) If you need a swim after you’ve gotten your Instagrams, you have some other options:
  • If you continue walking away from the ship you will get to Theo’s Cove. It’s so small it can’t really even be called a beach. It’s more a patch of sand 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 and space themselves out to shout converse what to do next. Occasionally they also 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. 
  • If you walk back towards the Royal Navy Dockyard, there is a beach very close to the ship. It is called Snorkel Park. Here, for a small entrance fee, you can join a large number of cruise ship guests standing really far apart from each other in a small beach area near a fort, where they tend to hold conversations by shouting to each other over everyone else's conversations, while also swimming in each other’s pee. It’s also not very relaxing but at least it’s consistent. It becomes a dance club at night. 
  • If you are not a crew member or if you just have a really nice schedule that day, I would just take a taxi or a bus to Horseshoe Bay (a not very pink ‘pink beach’), Elbow Beach or one of the many other gorgeous beaches a little further down the coast. 


Map of beaches near King's Wharf Royal Navy Dockyard Bermuda


Sea Glass ethics

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. I didn’t know the answer at the time 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. I’m all for saving the oceans, and preserving the environment, but in this case the environment that they're trying so hard to preserve 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 and 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? 



Share:               
         
            
Pin it:


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 travelling 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

Comments

Accommodation deals

Booking.com

About the Sharonicles

The Sharonicles is a travel humour blog about an ex-cruise ship crew member who is trying to adjust to life on land with itchy feet. Sharon is currently taking a break from her seafaring adventures to explore some more landlocked locations from her home base in Johannesburg, South Africa. She likes to photograph a plastic lawn flamingo 'Rodrigo' on her travels because it seemed like a good idea ten 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 writers have ever left their bedrooms. (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.

Browse by category



Practical travel tips and destination guides 
for anyone visiting any of the places I have been.




My thoughts on travel mascots, photographing 
your butt in exotic locations and the addictive 
nature of cruise ship employment, 
among other things.



True stories about trying to find trolls in 
Norway, toilets in Denmark 
and getting flashed in Cuba, to name a few.



Tips for cruisers and crew 
members, as well as anecdotes from a variety 
of experiences at sea.