Port Sanibel Marina

How to Find Perfect Shells

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Are you looking to find perfect shells on your trip to Sanibel Island? You came to the right place. With the first annual National Seashell Day right around the corner on June 20, there is not a better place to go shelling than the Seashell Capital of the World. Sanibel Island is home to more than 250 species of shells. We’ve got you covered with the tips you need to find perfect shells.

shells on the beach

One of the best times to find shells on Sanibel Island is in the early morning hours.

The ‘Sanibel Stoop’

Sanibel Island is such a shelling hub that there’s an unofficial phrase for shelling named after Sanibel Island: The Sanibel Stoop. That’s the stoop locals and visitors call people bending over searching for coveted seashell treasure along the shoreline.

Best Times to Find Shells

There are certain times of the day you can find the best shells washing ashore. If you want the pick of the litter, go shelling during:

  • Low tide
  • After a storm
  • During a strong current
  • Early in the morning
  • A full moon or a new moon

It’s during these times that new shells wash up onto the beach for beachgoers to find. A Sanibel Island tide chart to keep tabs on low tides can be found here. Keep tabs on a moon phase calendar too.


We have the tips you need to find shells on Sanibel Island.

Best Places to Find Shells

Shells can be found anywhere on Sanibel Island. There are two places that locals know where to find some really good shells:

  • Lighthouse Beach: Take a stroll on a beach with a view of the Sanibel Lighthouse on the east end of Sanibel Island, taking in the scenery and scooping up tons of shells. Shelling tip: Get in the water and scoop up shells that like to collect in and around the Sanibel Fishing Pier.
  • Blind Pass: Currents bring sand and tons of shells into Blind Pass. Shelling tip: A jetty on the Captiva Island side of Blind Pass is known for catching and securing shells in place until your shelling hands scoop them up!

Bring Shelling Tools

There is a ton of awesome shells to find on the shores of Sanibel Island. Don’t look like a first timer. Come prepared with a bucket or bag to hold your shell loot and a small rake or shovel to rake through the shells to find the keepers among the broken shells, which are also known as throwback shells.

Best Shells to Find

With more than 250 species of shells to search for on Sanibel Island, shelling can get overwhelming. Here are some shells you can keep a lookout for to get you started:

  • Coquinas
  • Whelks
  • Sand dollars
  • Scallops
  • Junonia

Shelling tip: A Junonia is one of the most coveted shells you can find on Sanibel Island. That’s because it’s rare to come across one. When you find one, shout it from the beach and watch as other beachgoers bow down to praise you and crown thee “shelling aficionado of the day.”

Prepare to Stay Awhile

It’s easy to get lost in shelling and spend a good portion of the day looking for shells as you listen to the waves hit the shore. Come prepared with a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and water to make your adventure both comfortable and safe from the harsh UV rays.

shells on the beach

Come prepared with a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and water while you look for shells.

Clean Your Shells

When shelling commences, it’s important to clean your shells before they are proudly displayed. Here’s what you need to know to clean them up:

  • Soak the sea shells in water or a 50/50 solution of water and bleach to get the sand out of them.
  • Take them out of your soaking solution, scrub them and rinse them with water.
  • Let the shells dry on some paper towels in the sun.

Display Your Loot

Once you have cleaned all the shells, spread out your loot and be proud of your shelling accomplishments. Engage in a shell trade with relatives and use some of the smaller shells you or your children acquired to make a shell necklace. Remember your shelling adventure forever by filling mason jars with shells you can keep some place special at home or fill up an empty glass lamp with your Sanibel shells. Don’t be afraid to show off your shelling collection, which will also remind you to take another adventure soon to Sanibel Island!

Rent a Boat

Now that you have the tips you need to find perfect shells, all you need to do next is rent a boat or schedule a charter to take you out and about on the outer islands for a shelling excursion offered through our charter partners at Port Sanibel Marina! Utilizing a boat is a great way to spend the day while shelling and enjoying nature on Sanibel Island. Need a place to stay? Book a fully furnished condo at Royal Shell Vacation Rentals. Call us at 239-437-1660 to plan your trip and water sports activities today!

About Port Sanibel Marina

Royal Shell Port Sanibel Marina is a beautiful "Old Florida" style marina offering boat rentals, boat storage, kayak, paddle boards and canoe excursions in the Fort Myers, Florida area.

Categorized by: Shelling of Sanibel