If you ever watch videos of Davenport sea glass hunters, you'll notice that a lot of them are in wetsuits. Seeing this, a question I'm often asked is whether or not you need a wetsuit to hunt for sea glass at Davenport Beach? While you can technically get away without having a wetsuit at Davenport, the reality is you're going to be a lot more comfortable in a wetsuit than you are going to be in wet clothes.
If you are planning to scoop for sea glass, then you definitely need a wetsuit. If you plan to spend a lot of time searching in the gravel on the beach, then you should wear a wetsuit. If you are planning a trip to Davenport, you should definitely bring a wetsuit if you have one.
There are certainly ways to search for sea glass without a wetsuit. If you dig well above the tide line, there isn't really a need for a wetsuit for most of the time you're doing it. If you stay at the upper reaches of the high tide-line, you can often find small pieces of sea glass without having to wear a wetsuit. While a wetsuit isn't necessary to search for sea glass in these cases, it also should be pointed out that even if you're careful, in all likelihood you're going to get wet. There are two main reasons for this.
First, Davenport tends to suck you in. You tell yourself that you're going to remain at or above the high tide line, but inevitably you will begin to creep further into the gravel looking for pieces. Even if you resist staying out of the pit, waves have a way of sneaking up once you begin to wander into the area where they can hit. Sooner or later, you're going to get hit by an unexpected wave, and if you're not in a wetsuit, you're going to be cold and wet in your clothes.
Secondly, even if you manage to stay above the high tide-line, there's still a quite good chance you'll end up wet. Davenport Beach has sneaker waves -- waves that are much bigger and stronger than the set of waves would indicate they should be -- and when a sneaker wave hits, you're going to get wet no matter where you happen to be on the beach.
The best rule of thumb is if you're planning to search for sea glass, bring a wetsuit if you have one. While you may have no plans to get near the waves, there is a good chance the Davenport waves will still find you at some point in the day. With the ocean water being as cold as it is (along with the many other dangers), you will be a lot more comfortable (and will be able to stay longer) if you have a wetsuit.
If you decide to go to Davenport without a wetsuit, you definitely will want foot protection of some type that you can get wet. Flip flops won't cut it and open shoes or sandals aren't recommended since you need something to protect your feet when searching with all the gravel. Scuba diving or paddle board booties seem to be the most popular options (surfing booties are a bit too thin). If you decide to wear regular shoes, understand that they will get wet and sandy.