Shelling beaches on Sanibel Island are a dream come true for shell collectors. The soft-sand beaches near Sanibel Vacations are abundant with a variety of crustacean treasures. We harbor the best shelling beaches in Florida because of our island’s crescent shape, resulting in beaches laden with Gulf Coast and Caribbean shells. 

What You Need to Know about Sanibel Island Shelling Beaches

Whether you’re a shelling novice or expert, you’re bound to become acquainted with the “Sanibel Stoop,” affectionately named after the stooped position most visitors make when searching for shells. Low tide, especially at full or new moons, and after Gulf storms are the best times to search for crustacean treasures. If you’re new to the game, here’s a list of things you’ll need: a bucket or net bag and a scoop. And that’s it! You don’t want to be too aggressive with the scoop and damage the shells. If you happen upon any “live shells,” ones that contain an inhabitant, gently put it back. Live seashells are integral to the island’s wildlife cycle, so we must preserve them. This law also protects live sand dollars, starfish, and sea urchins. If you’re not sure if something is alive or not, put it back to be safe. 


While the best shelling takes place on the Gulf Coast beaches, please note that shelling at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is strictly prohibited. All other beaches are fair game. Here’s a list of shells you can bring back to your Sanibel Island vacation rental: Junonia, Conch, Lightning Whelk, Cockle, Scallops, Murex, Tulip, Olive, and Coquina.

Crafts for Your Sanibel Island Finds

If you want to try your hand at shelling, but you’re not sure what to do with your findings, we have a few suggestions. Making jewelry with seashells is popular, whether for yourself or as a gift for friends or family. There are plenty of tutorials online, or you can sign up for a jewelry-making class. Settle in for a Pinterest deep-dive, and turn your treasures into ornaments, wind chimes, candle holders, vase fillers, and jewelry box decorations, or simply fill a shadow box Regardless of what you choose, your time spent at shelling beaches in Sanibel Island won’t go to waste. 

Sanibel Island Beach Rentals for Your Ideal Getaway

Treat yourself to a tropical, Southwest Florida getaway at Sanibel Vacations. Our luxurious seaside accommodations offer waterfront views, pool access, and a level of privacy you won’t find other places. Take a glance at our exclusive specials and get the most of your island getaway rental. For more information on shelling beaches on Sanibel Island, or making a reservation, please give us a call at 239-579-0348.