When I see shells drizzled on the path towards the beach, my heart skips a beat. It is one of my favourite things to do during a beach vacation, and I can’t seem to stop. It starts off with a healthy walk along the ocean shore, but before I know it I start squatting, and my hands start filling up with little shells.
I know I’m not alone. Shelling is a favorite travel past time, and some travellers will go far and wide in the quest for the perfect shelling destination.
Sanibel Islands The Top of all Lists for Best Shelling
Recently I took a trip to the Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel Islands. I have never been before and the first thing I learned about it – is it is a sheller’s paradise. Beaches lined with over 400 species of shells.
I started my quest on Fort Myers Beach right in front of my hotel. We landed late in the afternoon, the tide was high, but that was not going to stop me from going on a beach walk. Within minutes my collection had begun.
By far the best shells I collected on my trip were on Sanibel Island. The condition of the shells was also better as there were many conch shells intact and larger clamshells for the picking in a variety of colours.
It was also a great spot for shelling during a sunset.
Tips on Shelling in Fort Myers and Sanibel Island
- Best time of day to go shelling depends on the tide. We know that Low tide is the best as many shells are brought into the beach during high tide.
- Tides can be stronger during a full or new moon making this is an excellent time for you to shell.
- If it storms on your beach vacation – the bright side is that after the storm ends during low tide, there might be some great shells on your beach.
- Look for sandbars, curved inlets on the beach you are visiting. These often accumulate more shells.
- On Sanibel Island – you will find the most significant accumulation of shells (due to how the island is situated in the gulf. For smaller mini shells hit Lighthouse beach on Sanibel Island, for larger conch type shells make your way out to Captiva Island.
- Rinse off your shells before packing them in your suitcase to avoid having a fishy smelling bag.
- Bring a watertight bag with you to store your shells for transport.
- Pack bubble wrap for more delicate specimens.
Florida Law on Shelling and Commitment to Seashell Preservation
Sanibel and Captiva Islands are refuge islands that preserve wildlife and collection of shells is included in these laws. This is not to discourage shellers from shelling on the beaches in the Ft. Myers and Sanibel Islands region but to protect the “chain of life” for wildlife in the area.
All shelling is prohibited in J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, located on Sanibel Island. All live shelling is forbidden in the State of Florida. Live shells are any specimen containing an inhabitant, whether or not it appears to be alive.
Note: sand dollars, starfish and sea urchins are alive when in the water and pulling them out of the water to add to your collection is not shell collecting but killing a living thing. You can tell if a sand dollar or starfish is alive as it will have small hair-like tentacles that move when you pick it up.
Florida also asks that avid sheller’s limit their shell collection. While there are many shells on these beaches, shelling them by the bucket load is frowned upon. Pick your favourite specimens and move on.
Planning a trip to Sanibel Islands? Check out these posts:
- List of the Best Travel Friendly Beach Tents and Sun Shades
- Foodies can Feast at Bayfront Bistro Fort Myers Beach
- 3 Hours to Paradise: Things to do on Sanibel Island Florida
|I recommend these Fort Myers Beach hotels|
|Sandpiper Gulf Resort||Pink Shell Beach Resort|
|TripAdvisor Reviews||TripAdvisor Reviews|
|See availability and pricing.||See availability and pricing.|
|Trip Advisor | Hotels.com | Travelocity||Trip Advisor | Hotels.com | Travelocity|
Travel assistance provided by The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel Visitor & Convention Bureau, however, the opinions expressed in this post are my own.