Shell collecting is a popular beach activity that’s fun and easy to do. For some, it’s a way to take home a pretty souvenir, and for others, it’s a dedicated hobby. Some even build a business around it, collecting perfect specimens of beautiful and exotic shells and cleaning and preparing them for sale. While you can find shells at any beach, some are particularly known for their high-quality “shelling.” Which ones are the best in the U.S.?
Shelter Island, New York
Shelter Island is between the North and South Forks of Long Island, and it has 25 miles of coastline that includes 6 beaches. Of them, Crescent Beach is considered to be one of the best in the region for shell collecting.
Calvert Cliffs State Park, Maryland
As the Calvert Cliffs crumble, they reveal the fossilized remains of prehistoric marine species. When you comb the beaches of this Chesapeake Bay site, look especially for fossilized shark teeth, sea glass, and even arrowheads.
Ocracoke Island, North Carolina
Ocracoke Island isn’t easy to get to, which is why it’s less crowded than other beaches in its region. From the north, you have to drive the full length of the Outer Banks and then take a fairly short ferry ride across, and from the south, it’s a ferry trip of several hours. Because the Gulf Stream is close, the ocean is warmer here than it is in the rest of the Outer Banks. Point Beach on the northern end of the island has exceptionally good shelling.
Cape Lookout National Seashore, North Carolina
A ferry is also the only way to get to the beaches here, which keeps it from ever getting too crowded. Strolling the shores at sunrise looking for what washed up overnight is a great experience.
Folly Beach, South Carolina
More than 700 different types of shells have been found at this beach, one of the state’s best. Starfish, sand dollars, and urchins sometimes wash up here as well, but one of the most prized finds is fossilized shark teeth.
Sanibel Island, Florida
The Gulf Coast beaches are generally considered to have the best shells in the U.S., and Sanibel Island is the most acclaimed of them all. Early morning, the day after a storm, and as the high tide is going back out are the best times to find shells. Why is the Sanibel area so great? Experts attribute it to a wide continental shelf offshore that supports larger populations of shellfish, crustaceans, and the like.
Captiva Island, Florida
Captiva Island lies just north of Sanibel Island and has similar shelling opportunities. Because Sanibel commands so much attention, Captiva can provide some respite from the crowds.
Galveston Beach, Texas
Storied Galveston Island is less than an hour’s drive from Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city, so don’t expect to have the sands to yourself here. However, don’t let that stop you from searching for shells here. Early morning and following a storm are the best times.
Padre Island National Seashore, Texas
This 70-mile seashore is the longest undeveloped barrier island in the world, and you can drive most of it. You can look for shells anywhere out here, but the best spots are the aptly named Little Shell and Big Shell Beaches.
Point Reyes National Seashore, California
With their backdrop of tall cliffs, the beaches here are among the most spectacular in the country. Up close, a nice variety of shells await discovery. Bonus: check out the many tide pools for starfish, urchins, and other denizens of the tidal world.
Cannon Beach, Oregon
You’ve probably seen pictures of this beach with its rocky shores dominated by Haystack Rock. Low tide often leaves dozens of sand dollars all about, and from late fall into early winter, you can also see migrating gray whales off in deeper water.
Shipwreck Beach, Hawaii
The waters at this beach on Lanai are too turbulent and dangerous for swimming, but that same turbulence washes all kinds of things up, including beautiful shells. You can only access this scenic beach by foot or with a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
Best Beach Vacations For Families, Couples, and Solo Travelers
Whether you’re traveling solo, as a couple, or as a family with kids, there are beach locations in the United States that will fit your agenda perfectly. Pack your beach bags and get ready to go!
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Cooler weather is coming, making it the perfect time to start planning a relaxing getaway to someplace warmer. Mexico is a popular and affordable getaway location if you’re ready to get away, kick back, and relax someplace sunny and warm.
Pack your bags and book your plane ticket because you’ll be ready for some fun in the sun after reading about these amazing beaches just south of the border.
Southwest to Maui: How to Fly to Hawaii for Free
Is Hawaii on your bucket list of places to go on vacation? You’re not alone! Each year, almost 10 million people visit the Islands (not counting 2020), but as I’m sure you know, it’s not cheap. Good news, though. I’m going to share with you how you can fly on Southwest to Maui and any other Hawaiian island for free!
This article was produced by Our Woven Journey.
Robert Sihler is an educator, freelance writer, and rock climbing guide and instructor living with his family in Driftwood, Texas. In his spare time, he enjoys reading fiction, streaming films, completing crossword puzzles, and rock climbing. When he goes on vacation, he likes to visit the mountains of the West and climb remote, obscure peaks that have seen few or no prior ascents.