Shelling on Sanibel Island: What You Need to Know

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Sanibel Island is one of the best places in the world to go shelling. The conditions are perfect and you’ll see people all over those white sandy beaches doing what the locals call the “Sanibel Stoop” as they hunt for their seashell treasure.

Shelling On Sanibel-Stoop

You will likely do the “Sanibel Stoop” while looking for seashells on the beach.

If shelling on Sanibel Island and in Southwest Florida is on your agenda, here’s what you need to know:

  • The best time to go shelling is at low tide, or after a storm or strong current.
  • Obey the rules – in Florida it is against the law to take a live shell.
  • Bring your tools – the list includes a bucket or bag to hold your finds and a small hand shovel or rake to help scoop them up better.
  • Talk to other shelling enthusiasts. You’ll learn a lot of new tips from veteran seashell collectors.
  • Clear the itinerary for the day because it’s likely you’ll lose track of time while shelling.
  • Remember to bring a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and other comforts while out in the sun on the beach.

The region is home to more than 250 different species of seashells. The common ones are coquinas, whelks, sand dollars, scallops and perhaps the most coveted of all, a junonia.

Shelling Sanibel-Junonia

The junonia shell is one of the most coveted on Sanibel area beaches. Find one and you’ll be famous!

If you find a junonia shell get ready for a small sample of celebrity status, as they are becoming increasingly rare to come across on the beach. A junonia is “the” seashell to acquire in Southwest Florida.

Once you have gathered your souvenir seashells, it’s fun to spread them out to identify the collection from the day. It’s always good to have a resource listing the different varieties of shells to learn more about each.

If you’d like to learn more, attending the annual Sanibel Shell Fair and Show or a stop by the Bailey Matthews National Shell Museum will add to your seashell knowledge.

To reach a number of great spots on some of the outer islands take one of the many shelling excursions offered through our charter partners at Port Sanibel Marina.  It’s a great way to spend the day here and see a special part of nature, so give us a call at 239-437-1660 to plan a trip and water sports activities.

Oh, don’t forget to share pictures of your treasures with us on Twitter or Facebook.