There are few activities that are as relaxing as collecting seashells by the seashore. But some beaches are better than others for collecting the best ones.
Across the U.S., there are plenty of places that you can enjoy an epic shelling session. From exotic shells on Shipwreck Beach in Hawaii to ancient shells and maybe even a fossil in Calvert Cliffs State Park in Maryland and many places in between, here are the best U.S. beaches for collecting seashells.
Calvert Cliffs State Park, Maryland
Located along the scenic Chesapeake Bay, this park is composed of caves that were formed millions of years ago, when the land was under water.
It’s a very popular shelling beach, and with good reason: not only will you find plenty of shells, but you may find other treasures too, like shark teeth, fossils, arrowheads, and gorgeous sea glass. Be warned, though, that admission is limited, so be sure to plan ahead if you want to visit this beach.
Sanibel Island, Florida
This beach is so popular for shelling that the term “Sanibel Stoop” was coined to refer to the bent-over posture assumed by shell seekers.
The curved shape of the coast allows plenty of pastel-hued shells to sift onto the shores of Sanibel Island, so there are always plenty of shells for collectors to discover. Nearby Captiva Island is also a go-to spot for shellers. Pro tip: If you go after a storm or at low tide, the pickings will be the best.
Shipwreck Beach, Hawaii
Located on the island of Lanai, Shipwreck Island is known for its epic seashells — and more.
The secret to Shipwreck Island’s shell success? The trade winds and strong currents. While these factors make it a dangerous place to swim, they wash many treasures ashore. You’ll find all sorts of fascinating and exotic shells on this 8-mile stretch of beach, but you may even find some unexpected treasures, like items washed ashore from fishing boats.
Ocracoke Island, North Carolina
The Outer Banks of North Carolina has long been a destination for beachgoers. But if it’s shells you’re looking for, Ocracoke Island is the out-there spot in the OBX that you should hit up.
Relatively remote, the beaches on Ocracoke tend to be quiet even during peak seasons, which means you’ll have plenty of uninterrupted and competition-free time for shelling. You’ll find Scotch bonnets (the state shell of North Carolina), sand dollars, and cowry helmets, just to name a few.
Port Reyes National Seashore, California
The sweeping beaches in the North Bay area are beautiful to behold, but they also offer excellent shelling opportunities. Just before and just after low tide tend to be the best times to seek shells since the tide pools are easiest to navigate.
Along the rugged coastline you’ll find all manner of sea creatures (look, but don’t touch!) as well as plenty of beautiful shells in a great variety of shapes and sizes.
Big Shell Beach, Texas
With a name like this, it’s got to be good, right?
Located in gorgeous Padre Island National Seashore, Big Shell Beach does, in fact, live up to its name. You’ll be greeted with a vision of thousands of shells glistening on the sand, just waiting for you. The strong currents tend to have a polishing effect on shells, meaning that the specimens you’ll find are perfect and pleasingly smooth.
A Shell of a Good Time
Ready to relax? These beaches are some of the best places to find beautiful shells and enjoy some soothing time by the shore. Why not take a journey to one of these spectacular shelling getaways and find some treasures of your own?