The beaches of the Kenai Peninsula are a treasure trove to those who are willing to keep their head down.
Beachcombing in the area doesn’t come with a rulebook and any beach walker can turn into a beachcomber just by moving their eyes away from Mount Redoubt and the horizon to check out what is hiding in the sand beneath them.
“Any beach spot you can get to down this way has its own unique goodies from year to year,” said June Searcy-Josten of Happy Vally. “It’s never the same, depending on the waves, storms and the changing tides.”
June has been combing the beaches of Alaska since moving to the state 38 years ago, and has been walking the beaches of the peninsula as often as possible since moving to Happy Valley eight years ago.
“I’ve beachcombed on this peninsula every time we camped down here,” June said. “Now, I live just a couple miles from my favorite spot and I’m on the beach whenever time and weather permits.”
Beach combing is an interpretive endeavor, since beauty is in the eye of the beholder. From shells to glass and everything in between, a beachcomber is sure to find something that piques their interest.
“It’s never the same, depending on the waves, storms and the changing tides,” June said. “I love all the things I find — driftwood, shells, seaweeds, seaglass …”
June recommends taking a walk to beachcomb when the tides are minus tides and the wind isn’t blowing too much.
“We normally always have a breeze of sorts,” she said. “But more sand in the face is not fun.”
As for area recommendations, June organizes her favorite beaches by what she usually finds while combing them.
“Ninilchik beach, seaglass and rocks. Deep Creek has smaller shells, driftwood, rocks and seaweeds,” June said. “Anchor Point, larger white shells and some smaller ones, also driftwood. And all Homer beach areas have white limpets, miscellaneous shells and seaglass, on rare occasions, and driftwood.”
She also recommends bringing along a large bag for any driftwood and a couple of smaller bags to carry tiny shells and miscellaneous rocks.
“Our tides are rarely just slowly rolling in waves,” June said. “They are crashing waves, so finding good shells in good condition is a treasure as most are broken and chopped up.”
June does warn those looking for a pleasant beach combing walk to stay away from busy, summer weekends.
“I’ll go to any of those beaches when I’m around that area but not when it’s a weekend that summer tourists are camping with the four-wheelers,” June said. “They trash up the tide lines where driftwood and seaweed collects.”
The best part of beachcombing is deciding what to do with the finds. Whether it’s for a collection, a souvenir or for the latest and greatest piece of art, where a beachcomber’s treasures end up is half the fun according to June, who makes different types of jewelry with her finds.
“My special finds are shells I can use in jewelry, a nice large shell not broken up,” June said. “I also love driftwood that has a shape that looks like an animal, something cool looking.”
Each find is unique and anything that she decides to pick up has a special meaning, June said.
“I do love all things I find,” she said. “It’s like therapy to the soul, to walk on the beach and collect what Mother Nature has left there for me.”