There is something that lures thousands of us to the beaches in search of beautiful shells. It is an indescribable feeling to find the "perfect" shell — no knicks or blemishes, no barnacles attached — a faultless specimen with just the right color and shape. Even though perfect specimens are hard to find, knowing where to look can increase the odds of finding them.
Below are a list of beaches known for their consistent quality and quantity of shells and if you want to make shelling the main objective of your next Florida visit, there is also a list of shelling tours.
If you simply want to see beautiful shells, check out the shell museums. And finally, if you perfer to shop for those shells you seldom find and those nautical craft items there is a handy list of shell shops.
Shells can be found on just about any beach in Florida. These are some of the best known for their abundance of shells.
- Marco Island is located just 15 miles south of Naples and is one of the best places to find a variety of shells.
- Sanibel/Captiva Island
Sanibel has an abundance of shells and white sandy beaches. Captiva is a great shelling area although not a good beach for swimming.
Tip: Always check local regulations regarding collection of live (shells with animal tissue still inside) shells. Collection of live shells are prohibited in some areas.
Travel to remote islands for a shelling experience you'll never forget.
- Day Star Charter Shelling - Naples
- Exclusive three- to six-hour charter shelling trips to remote islands off Naples for up to six passengers beginning at $250.00, plus gratuity.
- Grey Pelican Charters - Captiva
Capt. Mike Fuery takes you to the shallow bay waters to remote North Captiva and Cayo Costa Islands to sample shelling today... the way it used to be.
- Sweet Liberty - Naples
Affordable three-hour shelling excursion setting sail from Naples to Key Island's seven miles of remote beaches.
Learn more about the treasures from the sea and actually see specimens from around the world at these interesting museums:
- Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum
See shells from around the world, cameos carved from shells, explore how nature has created shells, and discover why seashells wash ashore. Open daily from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.. Adults (18+) $13, youth (12-17) $9, children (5-11) $6 and children age four and under are admitted free.
Location: 3075 Sanibel-Captiva Road, Sanibel
Phone: (239) 395-2233
- South Florida Museum
Florida's story is told from prehistoric to present with fossil, bird and shell collections and with life-size dioramas, exhibits of Indian life, and Southwest Florida's maritime traditions. Located on Florida's west coast south of St. Petersburg in Bradenton. Open 7 days a week January through April and the month of July, Mondays through Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and Sundays from 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m. All other months the museum has the same hours, except is closed on Mondays. Admission for adults is $19; seniors (65 and older), $17; children (ages 4-12), $14; and children age 3 and younger are admitted free with a paying adult.
Location: 201 10th Street West, Bradenton
Phone: (941) 746-4131
If you'd rather purchase your shells than spend a hot day at the beach combing the sand, then the place you need to be is one of these locations:
- Shell Factory & Nature Park
Experience this North Fort Myers landmark that has the world's largest collection of rare sea shells, sponges, coral, fossils and sea life specimens. Truly a unique Florida shopping experience with gifts from every exotic shore as well as wildlife exhibits, aquariums and alligators. Now as much of an attraction as a shopping experience, you'll also find a "fun park" with numper noats, paddle boats, a game room and the Soaring Eagle Zipline adventure. Spend an hour or a day.
Location: 2787 N. Tamiami Trail (US 41), North Fort Myers
Phone: (239) 995-2141
You can also find shells at many tourist stops across Florida.
They also can be found at some Walmart stores, Dollar Tree and craft stores.