Sanibel Island is world renowned for its shelling beaches, revealing a wide array of shells that will take your breath away. Considered one of the most popular shelling beaches in the U.S., shellers from all around the world visit the beaches of Sanibel Island to try their hand at finding a beautiful selection of shells. Let us help you make the most of your shelling experience with some helpful tips on when and where to shell, along with the variety of shells you may discover during your search. Grab one of our shelling bags and hit the beach with West Wind Island Resort!
Where to shell:
Stretching into the Gulf of Mexico, Sanibel Island acts as a natural shelf for shells to collect. The waves push the shells up to shore, where they wait to be discovered! Not all shells are visibly nestled along the beach – get your toes wet and wade through the water to expand your shelling grounds.
The best location for shelling is only steps away from your accommodations at West Wind Island Resort, right on the white-sand beaches of Sanibel Island! The stretch of beach along the Gulf of Mexico is an excellent destination for shelling, with a variety of public beaches available for you to explore.
When to shell:
Shelling is a fun and unique activity regardless of when you choose to shell. However, three aspects play a large role in the abundance of shells available on the beach: weather, moon phase and tides. The ideal combination for shelling is low tide during a new or full moon following a storm. While these conditions are not likely to occur simultaneously, you can keep these components in mind when planning your next shelling trip to increase your odds of finding unique shell treasures.
In regards to weather, the months of December through April offer the best time period for shelling because active tides often results in better shelling opportunities. The current phase of the moon can influence your shelling experience, as a new or full moon causes the tides to recede, also known as low tide. Low tide is advantageous for shelling because as the water recedes, sandbars are exposed, offering a wide selection of shells for you to explore.
Types of shells you may find:
Sanibel Island is home to more than 200 different species of seashells, and you can find shells of many shapes and sizes along our beautiful beaches. On the island, you will find two different kinds of mollusks: univalves and bivalves. Univalves are spiral-shaped, while bivalves feature a hinged design. Conch, lightning whelk, cockle, tulip, olive and coquina shells, and the rare junonia, are among the wide variety of shells that can be discovered on the island. Each shell has a unique and beautiful design that will help create a special collection that you can keep as a souvenir of your stay at West Wind Island Resort. Don’t forget – it is illegal to take live shells, sea urchins, star fish or sand dollars from the beach, so be sure to carefully return any live creatures to the sea.
Now it is your turn to get outside and enjoy the beautiful Southwest Florida weather! For more tips and information on shelling on Sanibel Island, visit our Sanibel Shelling page. We hope that you enjoy one of our favorite pastimes – happy hunting!