Beachcombers and Glass Float Expo

By Kirsti Scott

fishing floats found on the coast of washington

The currents of the Pacific Ocean are a relentless force, reshaping coastlines, affecting weather patterns, and carrying lost and discarded items for thousands of miles until they land on beaches along the Pacific Rim.

waves and driftwood in ocean shores washington

glass fishing floats found on pacific northwest beaches in oregon and washington

One of the stretches of coastline that receives much of this marine debris is the coast of Washington State. Pacific Northwest beaches are known as great places to find remnants of cargo spills, items that fell from or were tossed from boats, driftwood, and almost everyone’s favorite find: glass fishing floats.

vendors collectors traders at float festival in washington

Since 1985, the town of Ocean Shores has been celebrating the treasures and trash that beachcombers find on the beaches.

collectors and float finders at float expo

Every March, float aficionados and beachcombers of all types gather at the Beachcombers and Glass Float Expo to share their collections, learn from experts about beachcombing, and shop for these beautiful glass orbs, both historical and new.

organizer and collectors and vendors selling floats

The 2024 expo has lectures, exhibitors, and vendors all sharing their take on beachcombing, glass floats, and the endless variety of items beachcombers bring home.

float competition displays and collectors gathered at beachcomber expo

colorful glass fishing floats purchased at beachcomber festival

It’s a great place to bring your beach finds to get identified, trade for or buy something you’re missing in your collection at great prices, view amazing beach finds, talk with expert float collectors and beachcombers, meet up with old and new friends, and catch some fun lectures about beachcombing.

speakers and displays at beachcombing expo in washington

This year’s lectures include “Extreme Beachcombing” with John Anderson; “Beachcombing Gulf Coast Beaches: What is a Sea Bean?” and “Washington’s Razor Clams from A to Z” with Alan Rammer; “Green Crab Invasion in Washington State” with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife; and a presentation by the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.

competition displays and art at float festival and beachcombing expo

Enter your collection to be judged in a variety of categories, including “The Masters” category, new for 2024 and designed for beachcombers whose vast collections span decades of collecting and can include all types of items.

beachcomber collections of flotsam and jetsam pacific northwest pnw

japanese fishing floats and marine debris exhibits

If you’re not exhibiting, you can still vote for your favorite exhibits and enjoy seeing collections amassed over the years by beachcombing enthusiasts.

finding a glass fishing float on the beach in ocean shores

You can try your luck at float hunting with a little help from the expo organizers.

competition to find glass fishing floats on the beach for the expo

Local beaches will have hundreds of floats released just offshore for you to find. These authentic old Japanese glass fishing floats have “EXPO24” etched into the glass. They’re a great find in themselves, and if you bring yours to the expo, you can enter to win a larger prize float.

glass float with net pacific northwest

Beachcombers and Glass Float Expo, March 2–3, 2024, Ocean Shores Convention Center, Ocean Shores, Washington. Details ›


Learn more about floats

articles and information about glass fishing floats found on the beach

See some of our favorite lighthouses, learn about life as a lightkeeper, make a lighthouse-themed craft, and more. Articles ›

This article appeared in Beachcombing Volume 41 January/February 2024.

Photos by John Herreria, John Weldon, Westport Maritime Museum, and Kirsti Scott.

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