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Best Shelling Locations In Florida

Updated on March 28, 2015

Florida Fighting Conch

Shelling In Florida-Where To Go

Beyond Disney, Universal and all the other popular places and vacation destinations is a world of outstanding beaches that beckon you for a quiet day with nature to relax and enjoy the sunshine. There are so many beaches that will make you yearn to stay in the sunshine state. As a Floridian, I love them all. But some of these gems have some of the best gifts that you can take home and best of all they are free. I am talking about one of my personal passions- Florida seashells.

There are so many beaches where you can find shells that can provide you with memories long after you head back home. Shell collecting is a fun an interesting hobby. Except for a couple of things, you don't have to invest a lot of money into it. And the rewards of this hobby are oh so sweet

Sanibel Island

Located near Fort Myers, Sanibel Island is considered one of the finest shelling beaches in North America, Sanibel Island has long been popular with those who enjoy nature at it's best. Nestled on the gulf coast of Florida. There is an underwater shelf there that is perfect for shells to wash along the shores All of the Gulf-side shelling beaches from the Lighthouse to North Captiva are excellent places to shell

Panama City Beach

There is also some great shelling at the panhandle at places such as the aptly named Shell Island off of Panama City Beach. Access the island with one of the many shuttles or tour boats for about $20 a person.

Caladesi State Park And Island

Located in the Tampa Bay area, this state park can only be reached by boat. However, it is well worth the trip. You can use a private boat or take a local ferry. The area is only open during till dusk. There are beaches, a concession area, picnic pavilions and walking trails. Caladesi Park is not inhabited except for a few overnighters

Have You Ever Gone Shelling In Florida?

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Shelling Tips

Want to better your odds at finding the best shell treasures? Here are some of my favorite ideas !

  1. Check the tides times in the area you are visiting The best times to collect shells are the hours just before and after the low tides
  2. A bad storm shouldn't stop you I have found some really good shells right after a storm (don't go out during a storm or when a storm in eminent-after all, we are the lightening capital of the world)
  3. Winter is a great time to shell. The choppy water and less crowds make for better shelling (and the hotel rates can be better in off season)
  4. Look at where the debris and high tide marks are. Often within the material like seaweed, ect, you will find the best treasures
  5. Get out before the crowds hot the beach. You will a lot more early in the morning. I love getting out while the seabirds are feeding and I have the beach almost all to myself

Captiva Island

Just like Sanibel Island, Captiva Island is virtually made out of shells. The beach stretches 5 miles to the northern tip of Captiva Island at Redfish Pass. This is a white sand beach with clear bluw water located on the gulf side of Florida

Once part of Sanibel Beach, it was severed in a hurricane in 1926.

Captiva Island/Sanibel, Florida

Cedar Key

Cedar Key is actually a group of Islands near the mainland of Florida.

This beach is especially great at low tide where tidal pools hold great treasures. You need a boat to get there too, but the trip is worth it

Honeymoon Island

Another beach near Tampa for shelling is Honeymoon Island. Here you and your kids can hunt for sand dollars and other interesting shells. The clear waters on the Gulf Coast make it possible to look for shells not just on the beach, but within the first few feet of where the water meets the beach as well.

The Honeymoon Island State Park on Honeymoon Island offers fishing, snorkeling, picnic area and a concession stand, as well as shelling. The hours are 8am to dusk and the cost is $8 for a car with more than one person,


Jupiter Island

Located north of West Palm Beach, Jupiter Island is on the Atlantic side of Florida. Coral Cove State Park boasts of over 200 different types of shells as being found.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission governs shell collecting. While collecting dead shells is permitted, you must have a recreational saltwater fishing license to harvest any shells with a live animal still in it. Collection of the Queen Conch and the Bahama Starfish is always prohibited

Tips For Shelling In Florida

There are just a few things to remember about shelling, one of my favorite hobbies

  • Always wear sunscreen, hats and sunglasses when you are our shelling, even when it's cloudy. The sun in Florida can burn you quickly, so take precautions.
  • Bring a bag or a bucket to carry your shells. I like the woven fruit bags like you get on onions or oranges. They drain the water. Carry a shovel so that you can dig for shells
  • Get into the water to find great shells. You will be able to see in the clear water of our beaches, so watch for special treasures in the water.
  • Don't take a shell with a live animal in it. There are so many shells for you to gather here, please leave animals in their homes And it's illegal to take anything live
  • Shell after a storm and at low tide. You will get the best of the best.

Some Shells Have Round Holes

If you find a shell with a small very even round hole, these are perfect for all kinds of shell necklaces. The perfect little round hole is caused by clams who have invaded the shellfish in the cycle of life

How To Clean Shells

Wash as much sand as you can off first. Soak the shells for several hours in a 50/50 bleach and water solution. If you want the shells to shine, wipe them off with mineral or baby lotion. It's just that simple

Share Your Florida Shelling Experiences

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    • linfcor profile image

      Linda F Correa 2 years ago from Spring Hill Florida

      You8 are welcome to visit us anytime ! Our beaches are still great. Though I tend to stay away during Spring Break

    • linfcor profile image

      Linda F Correa 2 years ago from Spring Hill Florida

      Thanks for your encouragement. Visit us anytime. You are always welcome

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Great information. We look forward to beach vacations every year and sometimes do make it make it to Florida. Now we know where to focus our efforts! Voted up and more!

    • Don Bobbitt profile image

      Don Bobbitt 2 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      We just got back from camping near Fort Myers and naturally, we had to go to the beaches at Sanibel and Captiva.

      Our timing was a little off as we were at the beaches each day as the tide was ebbing but not anywhere near low tide.

      It was great watching people out in the surf and picking up some really great Conch Shells.

      We picked up a few nice shells as we waded around but nothing notable. What we do is place them in glass vases surrounding a candle as our "special memories".

      Good article.