The contribution of submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) to the total hydrological discharges to the sea may be large but has been difficult to quantify. We have tested the applicability and generality of a suggested linear relationship between annual average total SGD and its fresh groundwater component against various SGD simulation results and field data. This relationship is found to constitute a general attractor for hydrologically simulated and directly measured SGD values across a wide range of conditions and world regions. But these consistent SGD quantifications differ systematically and largely from indirect SGD interpretations of tracers in seawater. This is an essential gap between inland- and sea-based methods of SGD estimation that needs to be bridged.