Can You Take Sand From The Beach (I’d Think Twice)

(I may earn a small commission on the products mentioned in this post.)

Yes, there are some people who want to take sand from the beach. No, not the small amounts of sand we take home on our feet and in our bathing suits.

Some people want to take sand home from the beach for landscaping, for sandboxes, and to put in jars (decoration). It can look great alongside succulents and nearby fountains.

I’ll admit, sand can be beautiful. Colored beach sand are quite attractive and they can have white, black, and pink hues. But is taking sand from the beach allowed? What does the law say?

Although it might be tempting to fill up a bag (or truck) with sand from the beach, you might want to think twice before taking that sand.

Sand Is Big Business

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If you’ve been to a busy tourist beach, you may have noticed tractors on the beach. Each morning they comb the sand. Trucks may be dumping sand in piles to replenish the beach. Why are they doing this?

Not all beaches have an endless supply of sand and some of the most popular beaches rely on sand imported from other locations. The amount of sand a beach needs depends on the size of beach and its topography.

Municipalities, especially in tourist areas, go to great lengths to truck in sand. They actually buy sand to keep their beach looking good.

The fact that cities sometimes buy sand for their beaches won’t deter someone from taking sand from the beach, however the 4 reasons below provide a better idea for what to expect if you can take sand from the beach!

4 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Take Sand From The Beach

#1 It’s Against The Law

Did you know that removing sand from your local beach is against the law? In California, for example, state beaches do not allow the removable of any geological features including rocks, gravel, oil, and sand. Florida has similar rules to protect the beach ecosystem.

Similarly, other beach items like shells, plants, and driftwood are also prohibited. You’re probably thinking, “I’ve taken a seashell from the beach”. Small items like shells and sand dollars are usually overlooked but be careful to read signs at the beach. They often mention which species are “protected” or “endangered”.

Each State or municipality has its own rules so review the laws before removing anything from the beach. Most of the laws regarding sand pertain to large amounts like a truckload. If you take a cup full of sand you’re unlikely to be prosecuted.

#2 Beaches Are Losing Sand

While some beaches seem to have an endless supply of sand, other beaches, especially large tourist beaches, never have enough sand.

When cities purchase large amounts of sand it isn’t cheap. They must pay for the sand and its transport. If you decide to remove sand from the beach, you’re only adding to the problem.

You’re better off searching for a business to purchase sand rather than have the city foot the bill. Breaking the law for sand isn’t worth the risk.

#3 Sand Isn’t All The Same

Most people don’t realize that sand has different, weights, textures, and colors. There is black sand, brown, tan, grey, white, and even pink colored sand.

The color of the sand depends on the minerals in the area. That’s why black sand is usually near volcanic rock and pink sand is found near pink colored coral.

What matters most is how you’ll use the sand? Many people want to take sand from the beach to fill a sandbox or use in landscaping. Sandbox sand is best when it’s a larger particle size and weight, not when it’s sand from the beach.

If the beach in your area has heavy sand then you might be in luck, but most of the sand on beautiful beaches is incredibly fine (silt-like). Fine sand, that is very small, is great for the beach but it tends to stick to skin and it’s hard to get off.

This is a nightmare for kids playing in a sandbox because they return to the house with sand all over them.

The best sandbox sand is usually stone that is ground into a size that is heavy and won’t stick to skin. It might not look as pretty as beach sand but it will stay in the sandbox, where it belongs.

Leave the beach sand alone and opt for a larger sand size for the sandbox.

#4 Sand Is Too Heavy

Another reason why you don’t want to take sand from your favorite beach is its weight! You and I both know that sand is super heavy. Even heavier if it’s damp.

If you take sand from the beach, who will do the heavy lifting? Will you fill a bag or a truck? Better bring shovels and a wagon and make sure your tires don’t get stuck in the sand.

The logistics of obtaining sand from the beach may seem easy but it won’t be easy. You might even injure your back.

Local businesses might offer free loading and delivery. Sand that’s delivered is more than worth the hassle of loading and unloading sand taken from the beach.

Of course if you’re taking a jar full of sand to put on your window seal you’ll probably be fine. Just don’t try to take it through the airport!


It might seem like a great idea to take sand from the beach but it’s not a wise decision. Most States and cities have policies against taking sand, plants, fish, and wood from beaches.

Even if they aren’t likely to enforce the rules they certainly will if you take a large amount. If you’re on vacation it’s not a good idea to pack sand in your bag and take through the airport.

  • You don’t want to carry around heavy sand
  • Airports have a reputation for being sticklers when it comes to the law

Rather than take sand from the beach, you can probably find it at your locat home improvement store. There, you can buy sand in various sizes (large-fine) and find the type of sand that suits your needs (preferred option for sandboxes).

The beach is a great place to be and there’s plenty of sand. But leave it there and find a local business to buy from.