Have you ever heard about shelling? Shelling is something the folks of Florida love to do. Pretty much what it sounds like, shelling is when you grab your supplies and head out to the shore specifically to see what divine shells you can find. We’ve found some amazing shells of our own, so we can proudly say that this is something you want to add to your to-do list, whether you live in Florida or are vacationing there.
In this post, you’re going to learn every bit of info you’ll need to go shelling on your own or with friends and family. This article will fill you in on the best time and place to find the most divine shells that Florida’s shores have to offer. Keep on reading to put your curiosity to rest.
Why Go Shelling?
If you’re new to this term, don’t worry. We’ll catch you up to speed with the most important details of shelling. As we mentioned, the term means what it sounds like. Just think of when you were a kid picking up shells you thought were cool as you walked along the shoreline. However, shelling is more intentional than that.
Florida’s shores have the most beautiful shells washed up on shore every day, and these shells are usually found intact. Shelling is finding, noticing, and gathering those shells to keep, make things with, or sell. You can even take the shells you find to the Annual Sanibel Shell Fair & Show to compete with other shellers for prizes.
There are many different reasons to take up this fun beach hobby! Whether you decide to go shelling for fun, relaxation, crafting, or selling, we think this activity is the perfect way to spend your time on Florida’s shores. Speaking of, let’s talk more about the best time to find these shells.
What Are the Best Times To Find Shells?
Knowing the right time of year and day is important if you want to find the most shells. Having this knowledge will also allow you to stay on the beach at a cooler time of day, therefore staying out longer.
The best time of day to go shelling would be low tide, which you can find on a Tide Table. Low tide usually happens in the morning and afternoon, so you can even go out more than once if you’d like. As far as other times to note, we’d like to mention that you can find some incredible shells at full and new moons and right after a storm.
What’s great about all of this is that you can really cater your shelling time to whatever other activities you have planned for your day or your vacation. We encourage you to go out at least once to look for some gorgeous shells!
Go Here To Find the Best Shells
As you’re probably aware, there seem to be endless shorelines when it comes to the Sunshine State. Instead of finding this overwhelming, just think of all the calm walks and beautiful treasures you can find once you choose a destination. We’ll make your choice a little bit easier by giving you a short list of some of our favorite Florida beaches.
We think these spots have the best shells:
- Sanibel Island: This island is probably the most well-known for shelling. You’ll hear us talk about this stunning spot quite a bit. If you’re looking for a good amount of people, this is the place for you.
- The Ten Thousand Islands: This is a cluster of islands off the coast, and they’re much less crowded than some other locations. The Ten Thousand Islands are known for having a wide variety of shells to find.
- South Beach on Marco Island: This is another spot that is a little less known, which makes it a great place to head to for some quiet shelling. South Beach also has a great variety of shells, and you can even go on a shelling tour.
- Tigertail Beach: Tigertail is also located on Marco Island. As you can tell, Marco Island is an ideal island for finding all the shells your heart desires.
Now that you’ve got some locations to choose from, are you ready to finally talk about shells specifically? We are. Let’s take a look at just some of Florida’s divine shells.
What Shells To Expect
It’s pretty incredible how many different shells there really are, once you get to find them. As we mentioned earlier, Florida is a great place to find a lot of these shells in one piece, which makes the experience that much cooler. The coast gently washes these shells to shore, and it is encouraged for you to take as many uninhabited shells as you can find.
If your curiosity is killing you before you’ve even gotten to the beach, let us take you through a list of the top 10 coolest shells you can find in Florida.
You’ve probably heard of this type of shell before, but there are some interesting facts that go along with this beautiful type. Fighting conchs are what you’ll usually find on the shoreline. These seashells are bright orange when they’re alive, and will fade when they’re in the sun.
Some people used to harvest conch shells, but harvesting is now illegal in the state of Florida. If you can find a conch shell that is in one piece, you should definitely put that one in your bag to add to your collection.
Have you ever heard of a cockle shell? These might be the type of seashell that you’re most familiar with looks-wise. If you look at these from their end, they have a beautiful heart shape. You will typically have no trouble finding small cockles around the beach, as they thrive along the sandy shore.
If you are lucky enough to find a large cockle shell, do hold on to it as these are less common to come by. We love going on the hunt for an intact cockle shell to add to our bunch.
These shells are unique in their elongated oval shape and glossy finish. You can find olive shells in a wide range of colors and finishes. When left to sit in the bright Florida sun, olive shells will be bleached white, so keep your eye out.
Olive shells normally don’t grow beyond three inches long, but if you go shelling at the perfect time, we’re sure you’ll be able to find a couple of these tropical treasures.
That’s an odd name, isn’t it? Ceriths shells are also known as horned shells due to their unique shape. These shells come in a few different varieties of their own, such as Grass, Stocky, and Fly Speck. The different types of Ceriths are named after their coloration.
Look out for all kinds of shapes and sizes of ceriths shells along the water, and be sure to keep the ones that you find truly unique.
Worm Snail Shells
We’re obsessed with the shape of worm snail shells! We love them for their truly amazing spiral shape. Worm snail shells are small, but they are elongated and look like pieces of spiral spaghetti. A really cool fact about these shells is that if billions of these come together, they can form a reef. This happened at the Ten Thousand Islands.
Spotted Slipper Shells
Interesting name, right? Spotted slipper shells are also called boat shells, because they resemble a flat-deck sailing ship when you look at them upside down. Spotted slipper shells have beautiful coloration and finish. These shells are cream and tan, and their pattern is unique.
This seashell type also has a cool fact to know. After two years of floating around, if not washed up on the shore and picked up by you, spotted slipper shells will attach themselves to a rock or another empty shell.
Murex shells, or rock shells, are unique in shape and are more difficult to find fully intact because of how delicate they are. Their delicate nature only makes it that much more special when you find one of them whole. Murex shells typically have long tails with spikes all the way down their back. The surf usually breaks off those spikes, so it’s more common to find these without them.
Sand Dollar Shells
You’ve most likely heard of this well-known shell. Sand dollars can be found alive or not, and there are sure ways to tell before you pick them up to keep. As we mentioned earlier, you’ll want to make sure the shells you keep are not alive and are uninhabited.
Sand dollars that are alive are more thin and brown and are covered in little bristle tubes that help them breathe and camouflage themselves. A sand dollar that is okay to add to your bag will probably be bleached a lighter color. These are always exciting to find as whole pieces and are many people’s favorite.
These shells are different in so many ways, that they are prized among those who collect seashells. Junonia shells have an outside that is milky white with brown spots all over. The cool thing is that the animal that is inside when alive has a similar coloring as its shell.
You’ll be lucky to find such a beautiful sea gem if you come across them. Intact or not, their gorgeous color and shape are ones to marvel at.
Lightning Whelk Shells
What an interesting name! Lightning whelk shells are amazing in their shape and size, and they also have a really intriguing history. These shells can grow to be 16 inches long and have a shape that is similar to conch shells, though these are a bit more narrow towards the tail.
Lightning whelk shells were used as food, tools, and lamps by early island natives. The cool backstory and exceptional size and shape are why these shells are so fun to find. You’ll want to find as many as you can once you find just one.
What To Do With the Shells You Find
If you thought those 10 shells were amazing, just wait until you’re actually on Florida’s shores. There seem to be endless amounts of shells and varieties of each kind, but what do you do with them once you’ve taken them off the sand? There are several fun things you can do with your pretty shells, so let’s take a look.
Once you’ve taken your shells off the beach, your mind will be going over all the possible things to do with them.
From jewelry making to selling, we’ve got some ideas you’ll love:
- Make beautiful necklaces
- Create windchimes
- Use shells as dinner party centerpieces
- Sell your shells
- Make shell animals with kids or grandkids
The options are there, and we’re certain that whatever you choose to do with your shells will be a lot of fun. Now, let’s talk about another important detail when going shelling on the beach.
What Should I Wear To Go Shelling?
We couldn’t give you all this info on shelling and not make sure you knew what the best things to wear are. Because this activity takes place on the beach, it’s obvious that you’ll need appropriate sun protection.
This can be in the form of a super cute cover-up or an oversized shirt. Whatever you choose, make sure to have sunscreen and sunglasses on hand as well. You can also amp up the comfort for an afternoon shell search by wearing a cute and practical pair of shorts.
You’re going to feel more than ready to walk the shore for hours in a stunning swimsuit and all the right gear. So what do you say? Ready to go shelling on Florida’s sunny shores?