Hunting Sea Glass in Vieques
Sea glass or beach glass collecting has been a long tradition in my family. I have many fond memories of going to the beach with my grandmother and hunting for sea glass with her. I enjoy continuing this tradition whenever I go to a beach.
Some beaches in Puerto Rico are better than others for finding these sea-tumbled treasures, and Vieques has some really nice sea glass beaches. The best ones are located on the north side of the island, and some require a little extra effort to get to. But I find it to be a rewarding way to spend a few hours on the beach.
You’ve Never Heard of Sea Glass?
Sea glass is pieces of broken glass that have been physically tumbled by the waves, causing it to rubbed and buffed by rocks and sand. Eventually, usually after years of tumbling around in the surf, it washes up onto shore as a frosted piece. It can be any type of broken glass or ceramic — clear, green and brown are common finds (think beer bottles); blue is less common; red is a real find.
The glass needs to be completely frosted, with no shiny edges remaining, to be ready for collection. If you find a piece on the beach, check for unbuffed edges. If you see any shiny spots, you must throw it back into the water for more tumbling … for a future collector to discover.
For the best collecting, you need to pay attention to the tides. When the tide is going out, new pieces will be uncovered in the receding surf. You should also check along the high tide line for anything that was pushed up the beach at high tide.
From what I gather, there used to be a garbage dump just west of Isabel Segunda, which was the source for loads of glass and ceramics that ended up in the ocean. So any beach you can get onto from heading westward from Isabel Segunda for about ¾ mile will offer some nice sea glass.
There is a beach called Playa Cofi that is supposedly the beach for sea glass collecting. I had forgotten my directions to Playa Cofi, so we had to do some searching for beach access in the area. We ended up just going up and down streets that looked like they would reach the beach. After a few dead ends, we turned north off of Road 200 onto the road at Monte Santo (Avis was on the corner). We parked at the end of the road, being careful not to block driveways. There were stairs that lead to the beach and then I was in heaven!
We walked eastward on the beach, toward Isabel Segunda, for a while, which did require climbing up and around rocks at the water’s edge a few times. I found a handful of nice pieces in almost every color, though only one tiny nugget of red — my real desire. I found most of it right at the westside of the rocks in the picture above.
After that, we found the spot where most people go to get onto this same beach (which is Playa Cofi or Playa Monte Santo). It turned out to be the next street west on Road 200. Turn off of Road 200 and follow that road until it curves to the left. Park on side of the road and walk down path to beach.
Other Places You Can Try Looking for Sea Glass
During one of our searches down dead end roads, we did find a nice lookout point on Calle Miramar, which I now believe might also have had beach access by going down the small side street on the right, but the area looked a bit sketchy.
From the overlook, we could see there was beach access right in town by the barge and someone was beach combing there. From the map, it looks like it is at the end of Calle 65th Infanteria.
From town, I think if you park on Calle Muñoz Rivera, walk 1 block west and then to the water, you can get onto the beach. Alternately, park by the houses by the Municipal Cemetary and walk 2 blocks east and then turn left to the beach. From that beach walk westward looking for sea glass, but again you will have to do some climbing up or around rocks at the water’s edge.
Though we didn’t try it, we found info on the Internet about beach access at the little plaza next to Al’s Mar Azul Bar. That might be a good start and work your way westward, hunting along the way.
But don’t think that is the only place on Vieques that you will find sea glass. I found some on a number of other beaches, including Playa Grande, Sun Bay, Chiva (and a few others), but not in the quantities I found in the Playa Cofi area. The beach right by Ababor Suites, up on the north coast had a load of glass. But almost none of it was ready (it needed more time rolling around in the waves).
I only collect sea glass as a hobby and I keep my finds in a glass jar, but many people make jewelry out of it. If you want instant satisfaction without actually doing the hunt, you can stop in at some of the local artisan stores on Vieques (and elsewhere in Puerto Rico) and pick up some beautiful, hand-crafted jewelry made with authentic Puerto Rico sea glass.
Use this map to locate places mentioned in this article. You can click on a placemark to view the GPS coordinates for that place.