Where to Find the Best Shells
Our favorite place to collect the best shells is around Naples, Florida. The Gulf Coast surpasses all other beaches we’ve been to for shells. We’ve created countless items from our collected shells over the years. Our favorite crafts include: ornaments, wreathes, memory jars, and simple candle and shell displays. Not only is Florida known for Disney World, but it is known for it’s dolphins, alligators, and Legoland.
On the first day of our tip to Naples we went to Lowdermilk Park and found 10 live sand dollars and one starfish. It was incredible. Of course, we left them all in the ocean. The sugar-white sandy beaches have clear water and gentle waves that regularly deposit seashells onto the shore.
Best Shelling Beaches
- Tigertail Beach and Sand Dollar Beach, Marco Island
- Sanibel Island
- Keewaydin Island (Dolphin Trip or charter a boat)
- Clam Pass Park, Naples. You reach it by walking a ¾ mile boardwalk or riding the shuttle service. It is adjacent to the Naples Grande Hotel and it feels like a private beach.
- Walk along the tideline with a bucket, shell bag, or deep pockets in your shorts. We used our shell bag on the last trip we went on and it was wonderful! You can take it out into the water with you and the shells won’t get lost.
- Inspect each shell before keeping it. It is illegal to take live shells from the beach. Even sand dollars have tiny feelers on their underside that move when touched.
- You may now be an official conchologist (seashell collector)!
- Taking a private tour to an island or a dolphin eco-tour will bring you the most bounty. You can read about our trip to click here.
What to Pack for Shelling:
- Water – bring these Propel packets with you to make sure everyone drinks their water!
- Sunscreen – This sunscreen was awesome, my kids liked it and it doesn’t stick to sand!
- Hat – This is my favorite type of hat to wear in the heat (click here) or this type of hat with a chin strap.
- Smart Phone case – I highly recommend this case (click here). It goes around the neck and is a waterproof case for your phone.
- Sunglasses – Polarized glasses cut the glare and help you see into the water.
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Best Shelling Tips
- Low tide is the best time to find shells.
- The lowest tides are when there is a full moon.
- Quieter beaches tend to be less picked over.
- More shells come ashore after a storm.
- Wade into the ankle deep water to find some treasures.
Restoring the Shine of Seashells
Shells look beautiful when they’re wet, but often look dull when they dry.
- Soak the shells for a few hours in bleach solution (click here).
- Remove all debris with an old toothbrush.
- Wipe the shells with baby oil, vitamin E, or coat with satin varnish.
- Sand dollars can be strengthened by painting them with a coat of white glue.
- Shell displays: glass jar, craft project, ornaments, memory jars, picture frames and mirrors, or just display them in your home.
Collecting Sand? Bake it in the oven at 350 degrees until dry.
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