Every year we like to take some time to do a quick rundown of all the best places in the country to go shelling. Every year, things get changed up a bit, but this year we’re excited to bring to you the crème de la crème of places you can go to find incredible shells.
Are you looking to get out there this year and find some shells for your next project? Look no further than these places! Let’s jump right in!
Fort Myers, FL
In our opinion, the best shelling beach in the US is Fort Myers Beach and the surrounding islands. This shouldn’t come as a big surprise to most shell heads – as this WAS the place who came up with National Seashell Day, after all! But in all seriousness there aren’t a lot of ‘best places to go’ that live up to the hype, but this one is for real, folks. And it’s not JUST the shells themselves, it’s how seriously the whole place takes shelling as an actual thing. There’s Sanibel Island, Captiva, Cayo Casta and oh – if you’re staying on Sanibel, there’s even the National Shell Museum. We swear to god, that’s real.
Ocracoke Island, NC
So what’s cool about this place is that it’s not only the shells, but it’s the entire experience of going here that makes it worth it. The island is only accessible by boat and separated by three inlets and a bunch of barrier islands. And quite literally ALL of them are good for shelling and for whatever reason, they’re ALL magnets for different kinds of shells. In terms of sheer variety and a feeling like you’re on an adventure, it’s hard to top Ocracoke Island.
Cumberland Island, GA
If you want to find a beach that looks practically untouched and is almost totally pristine, then it’s Cumberland Island, GA. It limits its visitors to no more than 300 a day and it’s status as a Barrier Island might make it the most pure shelling experience in the US. It’s low traffic, so you’ll be able to not only find the shells you’re hoping for, but you’ll also get to experience as natural and authentic an experience as you’ll have anywhere.
Shipwreck Beach, HI
Finally, the Pacific Ocean gets some love, and this one is can’t miss. Shipwreck Beach is only accessible by foot our four wheel drive vehicles and covers an 8 mile span of coastline unspoiled Lanai. Some of the most unique shells in the world are found here. That being said – BE CAREFUL. This isn’t a swimming beach with good reason. The tides are incredibly strong and the trade winds there are no joke. It is beautiful though and on a clear day – you can see Molokai.
Stinson Beach, CA
You didn’t really think we’d have a list without some place from California on it, did you? For our money, Stinson Beach is the #1 place to shell on the west coast and should be on the ‘must see’ bucket list of any shell head. It’s about 30 minutes north of San Francisco and is included in the Golden Gate Recreation area, making it easy to access. The north end of the beach is where all the shells are, particularly at low tide. You’ll see plenty of sand dollars and you’ll almost 100% see a Seal at some point. The south end of the beach is nothing to sneeze at too – but expect to see even more wildlife. If you’re lucky, you’ll find the odd star fish.
So there you have it – our list of the five best shelling beaches in the US this year. We hope you enjoyed!