Why & How to Scatter Ashes at the Beach

Grief and loss come with uncharted territory, which includes many mundane details like event planning and cleaning. When a departed loved one is cremated, you can host a scattering ceremony to lay them to rest. If you’re wondering how to scatter ashes at the beach to honor your lost loved one, Ecorial’s put together a guide to help you get started. 

Why Scatter Ashes on the Beach

Scattering your loved one’s ashes at the beach is a common, meaningful practice. Many people find the ocean soothing in its power and majesty, full of life and death. A beach scattering is also more practical than chartering a boat. More people can attend, with no risk of seasickness. 

Check Local Laws and Regulations

This is the most crucial step if you’re wondering how to scatter ashes at the beach. You must check the local laws and regulations for the particular stretch of beach you want to use. The rules will vary based on what state you’re in and your local regulations. Scattering ashes where it’s not permitted or without the proper paperwork can result in a Class 2 demeanor, which no one wants on the day they are laying their loved one to rest. Start this process before you schedule the ceremony, or ask a friend or family member to do the research and obtain any necessary permits. 

Choose Your Scattering Urn

Picking the right scattering urn is essential in scattering your loved one’s ashes at the beach. A scattering urn is designed to securely hold your loved one’s ashes during transport and make scattering their ashes a smooth experience. Be sure to fill the scattering urn well before the ceremony. Ask for help if you need it. A friendly voice over the phone can help, as can asking someone else to do it for you. If you’re doing the transfer yourself, be deliberate. Set aside time, and fill the urn when you can focus. That means kids in bed and curious pets placed in crates or another room. 

Plan the Scattering Ceremony


Consider delegating as much of the event planning as possible. Or, if it feels good to do it yourself, that’s wonderful. It may be a good idea to ask someone to orchestrate the event on the day of so you can focus on your role in the ceremony. 

Check the tide charts 

Before you send out invitations, make sure you time your ceremony while the tide is low, with plenty of time before it comes into shore. 


  1. An electronic invitation may be the most practical option, but again, if paper invites are more your style and you want to do them, go for it. 
  2. Invite the people who were close to your loved one. If you’re hosting a reception after the scattering, it’s also OK to invite more people to the reception and keep the scattering ceremony smaller. 
  3. Encourage your guests to dress for the beach in addition to the pertinent details. Wear close-toed shoes, bring sunscreen and hats, and dress for the weather. E.g., a windbreaker if it’s cold or short sleeves if it’s warm. 

Take care of the rest of the details:

  1. Hire any clergy or officiants if you want to use one for the ceremony.

  2. Select the people you want to speak at the ceremony and ask them one-on-one. They’ll likely be quite honored. And you can talk or not—it’s up to you and ok either way.

  3. If you want music at your ceremony, you can put together a playlist to play on a portable speaker or have live music.

  4. If your group will be going out to eat after the ceremony, choose a restaurant with capacity and either give them a heads up about your party size and when you’ll be in or make a reservation. Some restaurants can host large last-minute parties but set yourself up for success with advance notice.

On the Day of the Ceremony

  1. Check the wind conditions before you start so you know which way to scatter your loved one’s ashes.

  2. Plan to have someone check to ensure the ashes are fully dispersed and invisible to the casual eye. This is considered good courtesy; there’s no need for anyone not involved in your ceremony to know that ashes were scattered here. You can mark the exact location of your loved one’s scattering place with Ecorial; do not leave a visible marker. Markers are generally prohibited, even if scattering is allowed. 

Give Yourself Time to Recover

It’s essential to give yourself space to process any emotions that came up during or after the ceremony and to recoup the energy that went into hosting an event while grieving. It’s widely acknowledged that grief has physical symptoms, including low energy and fatigue. So, it may be wise to plan zero to minimal activities on the days following the ash scattering, especially if you do any cleanup after the ceremony. 

Return to Your Loved One’s Resting Place

Now that you’ve scattered your loved one’s ashes at the beach, you have a special connection to them through this location. Many people practice visiting their loved one’s beach on the yearly anniversary of their death or scattering ceremony. If your beach is local, you can see it more often, which can be a comforting experience. 

You can visit your loved one’s online memorial on Ecorial’s memory map anytime. Your loved one’s online memorial shows the exact location where they were laid to rest. Everyone who was close to your departed loved one can visit this online memorial and come together to share photos, videos, and stories about them in a safe, private online space. Grieve and celebrate your incredible loved one together and honor their memory with Ecorial.
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