searching for sea glass in all the wrong places


“I’ve been looking in the wrong place!” This thought hit me a few days ago when I found a new beach with an abundance of driftwood and a fair amount of good quality sea glass.



Over a year ago I relocated to a different part of Portugal, leaving behind my beaches that sea glass dreams are made of. “That’s okay,” I thought, “the hunt is half the fun.” So for months I searched for a new beach to comb, but the area I’m living in now is far less populated and the beaches are known as being some of the “cleanest beaches in Europe”. I searched near forts, ruins, river mouths and ports, and I found a few interesting pieces of glass, but nothing of perfect jewelry grade quality.


It was really the hunt for driftwood that resulted in finding this new beach. Besides making jewelry, I make shelves and lighting out of driftwood. When I lived up north I had a beach I could go to and fill the entire back of our SUV with gorgeous driftwood, but further south I hadn’t seen much driftwood at all. Then one day it hit me. Looking at Google maps I saw the coastline of Portugal and realized where we live is quite protected because north of us the coastline juts in quite significantly. The wind and wave swells here usually come from the north, especially in winter which is when the seas are most turned up, bringing more floating debris. With this thought in mind I picked a location on the map just north of where the coastline turns and decided to drive up there and check it out.

When I pulled up I knew I had come to the right place. The waves were crashing, and there was so much debris and trash on the beach I could see it from far up on the cliff above. Sure enough, as soon as I stepped onto the beach I started collecting driftwood boards. But it was the gravel and shell pockets that really had my attention!


It wasn’t long before I had a pocketful of perfect sea glass and as much driftwood as I could carry. And that’s when I realized, I’d been looking in the wrong place! There are many factors to consider when looking for a good sea glass beach: history, sand quality, and wave action among others. But I hadn’t given much thought to geographic location until now. It makes perfect sense though, we need the waves to bring the treasures onshore and it stands to reason that the stronger the waves, the more likely they will stir up those treasures and throw them onto the beach for us to find.

So, if you haven’t had much success in finding sea glass, give this a try. Find out which direction the swells come from, then look at your coastline on Google maps. Look for peninsulas, capes and other promontories. When you choose the satellite view in Google maps you can look for beaches on the side where the waves come from and even save them with dropped pins which makes it easy to get driving directions. Then check the tide charts and pick a time close to low tide to go beachcombing.

I hope this tip helps you find some treasures to take home, but even if it doesn’t, can you ever have a bad time walking on the beach? Remember, the hunt is half the fun!