Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sea Glass Hunting - In Hawaii

I have returned from a wonderful nine days in Hawaii. Though most days were devoted to sunning, snorkelling and boogie boarding, I did hike about five miles one day in 86 degree heat to sea glass hunt.

With 40 plus mph offshore winds, the waves were high and the beaches were well churned up. This makes for prime conditions to wash fresh beachglass debris shoreward.

I hit a several mile stretch of beach that was virtually uninhabited. Though remnants of ancient homesteads built of stacked lava rock, dotted the dry, barren coastline, no one lived there now. Below me along the shoreline, cove after cove was carved with black rock that thousands of years before was molten and had rushed downward to the sea from a volcanic eruption. Tidepools had formed in the crevices of the cooled lava rock and occasionally an oasis of white sand and coral rested there in a patch. A spot of color (usually soft teal blues and seafoam greens) would stand out against the pebbly background. Sea glass! It beckoned as a smoothed, rare treasure amidst this harsh environment.

Many of these pieces were clearly from ship refuse; bottles jars, and even fishing floats that were smashed against the rough shoreline.

When one spends a lifetime along the water's edge hunting for sea glass, one also enjoy the benefits of the other treasures and the wildlife that the sea offers.
About mid-day, the protected, Pacific Sea Turtles would gradually make their way toward shore to spend an hour or two warming themselves on the sand. On my last day there, I was also blessed to be able to view two humpback whales breaching in a bay.

Ancient, carved tiki statues lined one beach I visited. I learned that over 500 years ago, this beach was a haven with religious significance for those seeking refuge and safety. There are many stories told of Hawaiians who swam for miles just to reach this very beach.

After a good 8 days on those sunny beaches, I began to get a bit crispy which, even for my olive skin is often difficult to do. Note the beach chair, poised and ready in the back of the car in case I happen upon the perfect beach.

All photos and text: Mary Beth Beuke - West Coast Sea Glass

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