Where Do I Find Shells?


First of all, let me say this…….Sanibel, Smanibel. We’ve been there and the only good shells you’ll find there are for sale at expensive prices in the shops. We have found really great shells in abundance on Bonita Beach, Delnor-Wiggins Pass Beach and Barefoot Beach. Put the free tide application on your smart phone or get a free tide chart from one of the local bait & tackle shops and then start strolling the beaches. You’ll find piles of shells with many collectible varieties.

There will be some gems sitting right there in plain view just waiting for someone to notice. Sometimes you can employ the “mining technique” on a pile to find what is below the surface by excavating down a few layers. Each wave will reveal something new along the water’s edge. And definitely don’t ignore what the highest tide left way at the back of the beach where the vegetation starts. Take something to carry your collection because your pockets will fill up fast. It’s fun, it’s outside by the water and it’s very therapeutic.


Here are just some of the shells that we find regularly along the beaches:

  • Florida Cone
  • Jasper
  • Lettered Olive
  • True Tulip
  • Banded Tulip
  • Worm Shell
  • Crown Conch
  • Bubble Shell
  • Fighting Conch
  • Lace Murex
  • Lightning Whelk
  • Limpet
  • Horse Conch
  • Paper Fig
  • Auger
  • Alphabet Cone
  • Sharks Eye
  • Colorful (or Gaudy) Natica
  • Nutmeg
  • Slipper
  • Cockle
  • Turkey Wing
  • Angel Wing
  • Scallop
  • Clam
  • Sunray Venus
  • Jingle
  • Oyster
  • Spiny Jewel Box
  • Pen Shell
  • Checkerboard Clam
  • Noah’s Ark
  • Cats Paw

At Delnor-Wiggins Pass Beach, we start walking from the entry at Bluebill Beach Access (right between the north end of Vanderbilt Beach and the south end of Delnor-Wiggins Pass Beach) and head north along the length of the beach. If you walk all the way up to Wiggins Pass, you will have covered over a mile in one direction. Here’s a tip: there are about 20 free parking spaces and a bike rack just outside the entrance of the Delnor-Wiggins Pass Beach State Park so, get there early and save some money.

For shelling at Bonita Beach, you can start anywhere north of Doc’s Beach House. There is parking at Bonita Beach Park immediately south of Doc’s and parking immediately north of Doc’s in Access #1 along Hickory Boulevard. There are 10 access points along Hickory Boulevard with the biggest lots at Access #1 and Access #10 (some luck is required to land a parking spot in the limited spaces for Access #2 through Access #9).

At Barefoot Beach, there are over 350 parking spaces so you shouldn’t have a problem finding a place for your car. The shells will be found primarily towards the southern end of this beach so, from wherever you park start walking south towards Wiggins Pass. Keep your eye out for sand dollars, too, as they can be plentiful in this area. You’ll see different species of starfish but, please note that most are alive and it is illegal to handle anything that is alive.

Call or text message us at (239) 272-4848 with questions. Leave comments on this website with your success stories!

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  1. Trish says

    Any suggestions for beaches in this area that would yield fossil shark teeth (like Venice and Manasota Key beaches)?

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    • Tim says

      Trish…….we have found some really good shark teeth on our beaches. Delnor-Wiggins State Park has provided the greatest quantity while the biggest ones that we’ve found locally have been at Barefoot Beach. On Delnor-Wiggins beach, we’ve had the most success right about in the middle between the southernmost and northernmost points of the park. At Barefoot Beach, drive down to the southermost parking area and enter the beach along the path there. Certainly, check along the shoreline (this is a super beach for sand dollars, too, by the way) but, don’t ignore the high tide line at the back of the beach as this is where we’ve found several excellent Megladon shark’s teeth. There is a separate post on this website for “Where Do I Find Shark’s Teeth?”, too. (P.S. Judging by your email address, you should also be checking out the Everblades ice hockey at Germain Arena!) Don’t be bashful to give us a call at (239) 272-4848, also. Thanks for visiting the website, Tim

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      • Trish says

        Terrific! Thank you very much for this great “inside info”! Is there a section on the site that shows a map of the various parking and beach access spots along Barefoot Beach and the BFB Preserve?

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        • Tim says

          Trish…….quite simple. Turn into Barefoot Beach from Bonita Beach Road (if you’ve never been there, don’t worry…….you pass by the community guard house and go through the residential neighborhood all of the way to the end (about a mile), then you enter the park (pay the entrance fee – if you arrive much before sunset – if you don’t have a Collier County beach sticker) and continue straight ahead – the third parking area is the last one and you’ll see the pathway to the beach immediately to your right as you pull into the parking lot. Start there and walk south. You know you’ve come to the end when you reach Wiggins Pass – look across the inlet and you’ll be looking at the north end of Delnor-Wiggins State Park. Good luck!

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  2. jen says

    Thanks for this post! We are going to Sanibel area the week of Thanksgiving. My daughter’s dream is to go shelling and we have limited time. Please let me know what top beaches you recommend during that time and if there are some within 30 miles that are worth driving to/taking a boat to.

    Thank you!!!

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