Sanibel Island Shelling – Travel & Lesiure Ranked Sanibel Island #1 of the Top 10 Best U.S Shelling Beaches

Shell-lovers from all over the world make pilgrimages to tiny Sanibel Island’s Gulf Coast, considered the best shelling spot in North America according to Travel & Leisure Magazine. Sanibel’s beaches, protected by a broad underwater shelf perfect for gently receiving deliveries from shell-laden currents, are carpeted with tiny, perfect pastel coquinas and false angel wings. Sanibel Island Shelling has become so popular with beachcombers that some hotels offer rooms equipped with special sinks and worktables for cleaning and packing the day’s yield. Weather Channel Facebook friends’ also voted Sanibel Island as their best shelling beach.

All of the Gulf-side shelling beaches from the Lighthouse to North Captiva are excellent places to shell. With hundreds of thousands of shells, the beaches are nearly inexhaustible sources of every type of shell; and are constantly being fed from the Gulf & Caribbean.

For a list of public beaches, check out our Things to Do page.

Some Shelling Tips

Here are some tricks of the trade that will help ensure your success. Knowing when, where, and what to look for may lead you to that one treasured shell. Time, patience, and knowledge will increase your success. 

When: The best time is low tide and the lower the better. (Even better – after a storm!) Check local tide charts. Bring a bucket, net bag and scoop, sunscreen and hat. 

Where: The high tide line is recognized by piles of shells and other debris. Not always the “nicest” place but if you have time to sort through the debris, treasures can be found. Towards the surf, the beach flattens out – a good place for baby shells. Continue toward the surf, where the sand and water are like mud. Shells are easily spotted in this area. Look carefully and walk slowly if you step in the water, this is the tidal area and one of the best places to look. If you continue to the surf line, shelling is not as productive. But remember if you’re patient and at the right place at the right time a treasure may come rolling in at your feet. 

What: Be sure to check that the shell is empty; live shelling is prohibited in Southwest Florida. So, kindly return it to the water. 

How To Clean Shells 

Soak shells in a 50/50 solution of water and bleach for a few hours or overnight. If any barnacles or other matter is left, remove with a pick or toothbrush. To make shells shine wipe with mineral oil or baby oil. 

The beaches are a great place to relax by enjoying shelling, fishing or bird watching. We have put together a list of our favorite things to do on Sanibel Island – click here to view now. 

Welcome to Beautiful Sanibel Island!

Book now 
Sandalfoot Management Reservations
E-mail or call to get the latest special offers and availability.

Located at:
671 East Gulf Drive
Sanibel Island, FL 33957

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