Treasure Hunting on Grand Strand Beaches
Speak of treasure hunting and many people have images of pirates and skeletons. There’s a different kind of treasure on the Grand Strand beaches – the kind you only find when you’ve been out beachcombing. Our Grand Strand beaches and the Atlantic Ocean are home to a variety of wildlife, which can mean lots of neat finds on the beaches.
It’s best to plan to go beachcombing when the tide is low, and the first low tide after a full moon or a large storm will net the best hauls because the tides are stronger during these events, so they wash in larger shells and more of them.
It’s also important to plan to do your beachcombing early in the day. Hardcore beachcombers are out early, picking over the beach, so you have to be moving to stay ahead of them. The beaches also get crowded early during the summer season, which means they’ll be picked over if you wait too late in the day.
Where to find your treasures is also an important question that many people ask. The best items are usually found along the waterline or along the wrack line; that high-water line that’s easy to see further up the beach. This is where small shells, glass, and other items are deposited as the waves roll in during high tide.
Anyone who’s willing to get out early to see what they can find will likely be rewarded with all manner of treasure. Most common on the Grand Strand beaches are shells like the lettered olive. It’s South Carolina’s state shell, and looks a little like a small, rolled cigar. Usually these shells are light colored, with darker triangles of color banded around the outside of the shell.
Other shells that beachcombers might find include whelks, augers, and a variety of snail shells, clam shells, and oyster shells. Just remember, if the shell has an animal living in it, please don’t take it home. Toss it back into the surf. Those shells will continue to grow along with the animal inside them.
Shells aren’t the only neat things that collect on the beaches. Beachcombers can also find sponges or coral, sea urchins, barnacles, driftwood, and even sharks’ teeth. But among the most prized finds on the Grand Strand beaches are sand dollars and sea glass. If you find a sand dollar that’s brown in color and has small hair-like finds, please toss it back into the water. Those are still alive. The ones you want to take with you will be white or gray in color.
Most of the sea glass you’ll find will be white, green, or amber/brown-colored. Every now and then, you might even get lucky and find a rare piece of pale blue, or even indigo-colored sea glass. Sea glass is often used in decorating and jewelry making. So go on, make plans to go beachcombing. You never know what kind of treasure you might find.