7 Secret Beaches in the U.S. Where You Can Find Real Treasure
These secluded sands have rare relics and magical wonders for you to discover.
Who hasn't imagined strolling by the sea and finding hidden treasure? While chests full of gold and jewels may be unlikely, there are a bunch of beaches around America that are known for their unique—and valuable—bounty. From a windswept coastline where ancient shipwrecks often wash ashore to an island known for its semi-precious stones, these rich sands should be marked on every explorer's map. And for more secluded strands, check out the 17 Best Secret Beach Towns in America.
Treasure Coast, Florida
Near 100 miles north of West Palm Beach is Florida's Treasure Coast. This fertile section of the Atlantic, stretching from Cape Canaveral to Stuart, is the perfect place to dig for literal lost treasure. In the 18th century, a fleet of Spanish ships sunk offshore and their gold, silver, and jewels are still buried beneath the sand today. In fact, two dozen silver coins worth up to $6,000 were discovered on Wabasso Beach earlier this year. Salvagers have also reported swords and lavish clothing worn by noblemen among their loot.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan
If you stumble upon a Petoskey stone, count yourself blessed. Michigan's state stone—along with its cousin, Charlevoix—are actually prehistoric fossilized corals and are very rare to come across. Except in one place, that is. Just outside Traverse City, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has 35 miles of windswept waterfront buffered by 450-foot cliffs. Here, it's common for beachcombers to stumble upon these natural treasures. However, the reserve in the Lower Peninsula doesn't allow visitors to pocket any flora or fauna, so you'll have to drive 30 minutes south to Point Betsie Lighthouse if you're hoping to take one home as a souvenir. And for more pristine oases, check out the 23 Spectacular Lakes in America You Never Knew About.
Block Island, Rhode Island
Nestled between Newport and Montauk, Block Island isn't the most popular inlet on the East Coast—especially compared to its glam neighbor, Nantucket. But while its charming lighthouses and unspoiled beaches are equally beautiful, it has one stand-out feature: whimsical orbs. Every year, hundreds of hand-blown glass fishing floats are hidden around the atoll. Local artist Eben Horton started the magical scavenger hunt in 2012 and since then, a society of sleuths has eagerly traversed the 7,000-acre enclave to unearth them. And for more underrated archipelagos, check out the 13 Secret Islands in the U.S. You Never Knew Existed.
MacKerricher State Park, California
Sea glass may not be a pirate's bounty, but it is a beachcomber's dream. At Fort Bragg's MacKerricher State Park, there's an entire stretch of sand covered in sea glass. In the early 20th century, locals used to throw their old bottles in a dump along the coastline, but decades later, the pounding Pacific surf has polished and smoothed them into shimmering gems that blanket the shore today.
Calvert Cliffs State Park, Maryland
This quiet beach on Chesapeake Bay may be hard to locate at first, but it's worth the trek. Hike two miles along the red trail in Calvert Cliffs State Park, and you'll come across a tranquil cove bordered by 10- to 20-million-year-old bluffs. Paleontologists frequently scour this seaside time capsule for Miocene-era shark teeth and rare prehistoric relics, including rhino, tapir, and mastodon bones. In fact, more than 600 species of fossils have been discovered in this area as well as ancient shells and arrowheads. And for more awe-inspiring sights, check out the 23 Hidden Natural Wonders in the U.S.
Port Townsend, Washington
On the rugged edge of the Olympic Peninsula—where the Puget Sound meets the Strait of Juan de Fuca—Port Townsend is a quirky hamlet with a surprising secret. Its North Beach and Glass Beach, both along McCurdy Point north of downtown, are home to an array of gorgeous sea glass as well as semi-precious stones. Geologists flock here to gather jasper, basalt, and quartz as well as agates, an amber-colored gemstone only available in the Pacific Northwest.
TEPCO Beach, California
This rocky inlet, near Point Isabel in Richmond, is so under-the-radar that even locals don't recognize it. Back in 1930, an Italian immigrant named John Pagliero opened the Technical Porcelain and Chinaware Company (TEPCO) to create dinnerware for restaurants in the Bay Area. Though the manufacturer shut down in 1968, remnants still remain strewn along the beach where the factory used to dispose of broken crockery. Now, collectors can find shards of the vintage pottery and handmade ceramics, and if they're lucky, maybe even a piece with the original TEPCO logo stamped on the back. One such fortunate visitor recovered a mug labeled Papagayo Room, a famous watering hole in San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel, which attracted members of the mid-century glitterati like Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, and Nat King Cole. And for more remote destinations in your own backyard, check out the 50 Beautiful Off-the-Grid Places in the U.S. You Should Visit.