Substantial information can be gained from digital in-line holography of marine particles, eliminating depth-of-field and focusing errors associated with standard lens-based imaging methods. However, for the technique to reach its full potential in oceanographic research, fully unsupervised (automated) methods are required for focusing, segmentation, sizing and classification of particles. These computational challenges are the subject of this paper, in which we draw upon data collected using a variety of holographic systems developed at Plymouth University, UK, from a significant range of particle types, sizes and shapes. A new method for noise reduction in reconstructed planes is found to be successful in aiding particle segmentation and sizing. The performance of an automated routine for deriving particle characteristics (and subsequent size distributions) is evaluated against equivalent size metrics obtained by a trained operative measuring grain axes on screen. The unsupervised method is found to be reliable, despite some errors resulting from over-segmentation of particles. A simple unsupervised particle classification system is developed, and is capable of successfully differentiating sand grains, bubbles and diatoms from within the surf-zone. Avoiding miscounting bubbles and biological particles as sand grains enables more accurate estimates of sand concentrations, and is especially important in deployments of particle monitoring instrumentation in aerated water. Perhaps the greatest potential for further development in the computational aspects of particle holography is in the area of unsupervised particle classification. The simple method proposed here provides a foundation upon which further development could lead to reliable identification of more complex particle populations, such as those containing phytoplankton, zooplankton, flocculated cohesive sediments and oil droplets.