Beachcombers that frequently visit this area aren’t surprised to learn that Travel & Leisure magazine ranked Sanibel Island #1 of the Top 10 Best U.S. Shelling Beaches in the country. The Weather Channel’s Facebook friends’ also voted Sanibel Island as the beach they like best for shelling. Conditions are ideal off the coast of Sanibel and Captiva Islands to receive the best and largest number of shells that you just have to see to believe.
It is said that both islands of Sanibel and Captiva are created out of seashells. When local residents install new gardens in their backyards they often find conchs, whelks, scallops and clam shells in pristine condition.
It’s due to geography that these islands rank the best in the world for shelling. The Island of Sanibel is shaped in a curve along the coastline. The east-west torque of Sanibel’s south end acts like a shovel that regularly scoops up all the seashells that the Gulf transports in from the Caribbean and other southern seas.
What to Bring
Bring a bucket or other container to hold your treasures and go out during low tide when the shells are more exposed. The best times for Florida shell-lovers to collect are at low spring tides during full and new moons. Gulf storms also push a large number of shells up the Gulf and onto the beaches of Sanibel and Captiva.
Where to Find the Best Shells
The best places to go shelling are on the Gulf-side shelling beaches from the Lighthouse to North Captiva. With hundreds of thousands of shells, the beaches are sources of every type of shell imaginable; with a fresh supply coming in regularly from the Gulf and Caribbean. Shelling is prohibited in J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.
What to Expect
You’ll find many different types and sizes of seashells on these beaches. The smaller seashells can be found on the Lighthouse end of the island chain. If it’s the larger shells you’re after you’ll want to check closer to Captiva and North Captiva. Expect to find Conch, Junonia, Lightning Whelk, Cockle, Scallops, Murex, Tulip, Olive, Coquina, among the species there.
Florida Seashell Laws
Seashells are important to the chain of life on Sanibel and Captiva Islands. Because both of these are refuge islands, where all life is considered precious, the State of Florida has outlawed the collecting of live shells on the island. A “live shell” is defined as any specimen that contains an inhabitant, whether or not the mollusk seems alive. The law further protects sand dollars, starfish and sea urchins. Sheller’s are urged to limit even their empty-shell collection.
Where to Stay
When you’re looking for an affordable place to stay on Sanibel be sure to check out what we have to offer at Blind Pass Condominiums. Our accommodations are beautifully decorated and fully furnished and will easily accommodate most any size group.