The Best Shelling Beaches in Florida
Do you love finding shells on the beach? Well, you’re in luck when you take a vacation in Florida! There are quite a few shelling beaches in Florida. And today, I will share the best shelling beaches in Florida with you.
Most of the best beaches in Florida for shelling are on the Gulf Coast – our favorite Florida coast. A few of the best Florida beaches to find seashells are on the East Coast. However, the East Coast has some of the best places to see sea turtles in Florida!
So, no matter which coast you head to on your next Florida vacation, you should find a beach where you can find the best shells.
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Whenever I need to rent a car, I use Discount USA Car Rental; you can use it at all major Florida airports (and even most of the smaller ones!) and rent from large companies such as Hertz, Enterprise, Alamo, etc. at discounted prices.
Best Shelling Beaches in Florida
The best beaches to find seashells in Florida are shared in no particular order. I will mention some of our personal favorites, but no matter where you are vacationing in Florida, there will be a great shelling beach somewhere nearby!
Must-have items for shelling
Don’t forget to bring a few tools for your shelling excursion; you’ll want a mesh bag and a few other essentials.
Fernandino Beach is one of the best beaches in Florida for shelling on the state’s eastern coast. This beach is located on Amelia Island. This is in the northern area of the state. We talk about Amelia Island in the 21 Best Places to Visit in Florida with Kids post so check it out!
You will usually find small shells at this Florida shelling beach. You may also find quite a few sharks teeth scattered amongst all the seashells. Finding shark teeth can be quite an adventure if you have a shark lover in your group!
Jupiter Beach is another shelling destination on the East Coast of Florida. Over the years, 200 different types of seashells have been discovered on this island. This is one of the best shelling beaches in Florida if you want a lot of variety in your seashell collection.
The most common shells on this beach include coquinas, lion’s paws, bittersweets, and sand dollars but you may also find some rare shells too.
Jupiter Beach is not only one of the best beaches for shelling in Florida, it’s also one of the best places to find sharks teeth in Florida!
The beaches of Sanibel Island are perfect for shelling. It’s pretty much the ideal island overall! However, everyone seems to know this. And that means the beach is crowded all the time. Still, it’s one of the best shelling spots in Florida.
That doesn’t mean you should cross Sanibel Island off your list of the best Florida beaches to find seashells. It simply means you should arrive early to avoid the crowds. Avoiding the weekends is another excellent tip for Sanibel Island.
One of our favorite ways to explore the island is biking; you can bring your own or rent some on-island if they are available.
The currents from the Gulf of Mexico bring the seashells into the curve of the island. Walking along the beach, you will find all sorts of shells. The most common seashells on this beach include lightning whelks, tulip shells, false angel wings, and conchs.
Make sure to check out the best things to do in Sanibel and Captiva.
Tigertail Beach is located on Marco Island in Southwest Florida. It is easy to spend hours searching for the perfect horse conch shell, moon snail shells, or calico scallop on this beach in Florida.
In between shelling sessions, you can head out for a swim. Or you can do a little kayaking away from the rest of the people on the beach.
The beaches on the islands of Cedar Key are all small. However, those small beaches are packed with seashells just waiting for you to take them home.
Not too many people know about these beaches located between Orlando and Tallahassee. So, you may be all alone during your shelling adventures.
The shells on Cedar Key’s beaches will shift as the tide shifts. I recommend visiting during low tide for the best selection of seashells.
Shell Island is near Panama City Beach. With a name like Shell Island, it would make sense that it is one of the best areas in Florida for shelling. This island happens to be a hidden gem. Most people stay on Panama City Beach and never venture over to this area.
This is excellent news for you! There aren’t as many seashells as there used to be on Shell Island. But there are still plenty to sift through as you look for the perfect one to take home.
Oh, and just to note… There are a few different Shell Islands in the state of Florida. Make sure you search for the one near Panama City Beach when you want to visit this one.
Captiva Island is right next to Sanibel Island. A road connects these two islands. This makes it simple to go shelling on both islands during your Florida vacation.
The shape of this island means there aren’t as many seashells being washed onto the beach by the waves. There are enough, so you can easily find numerous seashells to take home with you.
If you plan on visiting both of these best beaches in Florida for shelling, I recommend beginning at Captiva and then going to Sanibel. You will avoid the early morning crowds at Sanibel, especially since most people will head over to Captiva when they finish.
Caladesi Island State Park
If you do not mind leaving the mainland, you can find many seashells in Caladesi Island State Park. There are two islands within that park. They are Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island.
You will find both these islands off the Gulf Coast between the areas of Clearwater and Tampa. There is a ferry running between both islands. You will want to pay attention to the time, though. The last thing you want to do is miss the last ferry back to where you came from!
If you need to choose between these two islands for shelling, I would go with Caladesi. You’ll also find Caladesi Island State Park on our list of the 20 Best Beaches near Orlando for Families.
Coquina Beach is over on Anna Maria Island. The soft white sand is perfect for spotting all types of seashells. It can get crowded as one of the best beaches on the island for shelling. There is plenty of room for everyone, though.
In Naples, you will quickly discover that shelling is best at Barefoot Beach. This long stretch of sand offers plenty of room for swimmers, sandcastle builders, and shellers. Make sure to check out unique things to do in Naples Florida if you plan to head down there to do some shelling!
As you search for shell treasures, you will want to keep an eye open for alphabet cones, bonnets, bubbles, and arks. You will also find lots of small and big paws.
On the Gulf Coast, you will find Venice Beach. This is one of the best beaches in Florida for shelling and finding sharks teeth. This beach has earned the nickname “shark tooth capital of the world” for a good reason. So many shark teeth have been picked up over the years. You’ll also find a variety of shells, but the shark teeth are what makes Venice Beach famous.
This is one of our family’s favorite beaches in Florida for that reason!
If you are looking for another shelling destination, I recommend Caspersen Park Beach. This beach is on the southern side of the city of Venice. Venture over to the rock outcrops to see what you can find.
Fort Myers Beach
Dolphins almost always play out in the water off Fort Myers Beach and other marine life. When you arrive at this beach, you may be so busy watching those dolphins that you forget to look for seashells.
However, that would be a mistake since this is the right place for shelling! This is one of the best shelling beaches in Florida. If you don’t want to deal with the crowds at nearby Sanibel and Captiva Islands, Fort Myers Beach is your desired destination!
Wander along the shoreline to find shells that include conches, Florida cones, tulip-naded shells, and maybe a Florida spiny jewel box.
Navarre Beach is not as famous as many of the other Florida beaches, but it’s one of the most beautiful beaches in Florida. You will find this beach near Pensacola. Another hidden gem, it’s one of our family’s favorite beaches,
From the moment you arrive, you will wonder why more people are not walking along this beach looking for shells. After all, there are gorgeous seashells scattered amongst the sand. And you may even find little pieces of sea glass.
The wind causes the seashells to change daily. So, it is common to find turkey wing shells and jingle shells one day. Then the next day, you may discover olive shells and cockle shells.
Fort De Soto Beach
When you vacation in the Tampa area, a visit to Fort De Soto Beach must be on your list. This beach is five different islands with beaches. North Beach is the best for shelling.
When you visit this best beach in Florida for shelling, you will find many different seashells. The most common ones are sand dollars, lightning whelks, and jingle shells.
Sand Key Park
Sand Key Park is in Clearwater, which is on the Gulf Coast. Shell collectors gather at this best beach in Florida early in the day. If you are in the Clearwater area, read the 30 Things to do in Clearwater with Kids.
You can easily spend a few hours walking up and down the shoreline looking for seashells. Most shells on this beach include keyhole limpet shells, lightning whelks, and turkey wing shells.
Little Talbot Island State Park
Little Talbot Island State Park is near Jacksonville. This quaint beach area is perfect for shelling.
Many people will choose to look for seashells near the boardwalks. If you want to discover what this best Florida beach to find seashells offers, don’t do that. Instead, head to the north. This is where long stretches of empty beaches are located. You will see more seashells than you could want there.
If you aren’t having much shelling luck on Fort Myers Beach, head down the road to Lover’s Key. This beach area offers two and a half miles of sand filled with seashells.
If you are not familiar with the many different seashells, Lover’s Key has you covered. There is a sign near the entrance. That sign shares the different types of shells you can find there.
St. Pete Beach
One of the best shelling beaches in Florida is St. Pete Beach. And everyone knows it!
Therefore, you must arrive early if you want a chance of finding any decent seashells to take home with you.
This is one of the best beaches for finding murex shells and fighting conchs.
Best Time to Go Shelling on Beaches in Florida
It is always best to head to the best shelling beaches in Florida early in the day, mainly if the low tide has just occurred.
When you arrive at the beach, you will want to look for the high tide line. This is where most of the seashells will be located. Sometimes, there will be a “wrack” at the high tide line.
Wrack is seaweed, sticks and shells, and anything else that washed up onto the shore. You can pull the wrack apart to see what is hiding inside. You must be careful as you are doing this. Nowadays, there can be many hazardous items and broken glass within the wrack.
Shelling in Florida Guidelines
Since you will be shelling while on vacation in Florida, you must know the shelling guidelines. No one is allowed to keep any live shells. If you find a seashell in the water, most likely there is a living creature inside. You need to put that shell back in the water.
This same rule holds for any seashells you find on the shoreline. If you notice the shell is still considered alive, you cannot keep it.
The queen conch shell is one of the most commonly found live shells in Florida. You may want to err on the side of caution and return any of these you may encounter.
Another species of seashells you cannot keep is the Bahama starfish.
The best beaches for shelling in Florida
Now you know where the best shelling beaches in Florida are located. So, what are you waiting for? Go out and find yourself a few seashells from these beautiful Florida beaches! Did your favorite beach to find seashells in Florida make the list? If not, please share it with us in the comments. We’d love to check it out!
Check out some of our best Florida travel tips:
- 2023 Universal Orlando Planning Guide
- Where to find Dole Whip at Disney World
- 5 Best Small Towns in Florida
- 16 things to do in Crystal River with kids
- 25 Free Things at Disney World
About Florida Travel With Kids
Florida Travel with Kids was started by a family who loves to travel the state of Florida with kids! This site will help you explore the fun state of Florida and all of the kid-friendly activities you’ll find here.
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