The best beaches for finding shells may surprise you. Here are some of the top places in the world for shelling Shells can be found everywhere on Somerset Creek Beach, but people will want to wear shoes so that they do not cut themselves on one of the millions of shells that are on the sand. King, queen, and emperor helmets are plentiful as are conchs and sand dollars. It is possible to scoop the shells up by the handful on this beach, especially after a big storm or hurricane has passed by the island. 7 Barricane Beach, Devon, United Kingdom. You might not think of shell hunting in the UK, but the the North Devon Heritage Coast is a standout.
There’s more to the beach than surf and sand. Shells, colored glass, sea beans, eggs and all sorts of natural treasures await your discovery on Florida’s beaches.
Learn all about beach combing and shelling, including where to find the best treasures and what to look for. Beachcombing has been a natural part of my life since my first trip to the beach as a toddler. A little plastic bucket and spade for digging up treasure was all I needed to discover everything the beach had to offer.
The joy felt by a beachcomber, whether child or grown-up, upon finding an unfamiliar or much sought- after object cast upon the beach by the surging surf, is surely akin to that felt by a birder upon adding a new species to his life-list of birds observed.
Beachcombers come in all stripes; some are strictly interested in shells, others may be searching for sea-glass or fossils; still others scour the wrack for sea-beans, or even man-made objects from far-off lands. Wrack? Sea beans? Those may be unfamiliar terms to you, so let me introduce you to the world of shelling and beachcombing in Florida.
Beachcombing: What is it? Beachcombing is the practice of meandering along the seashore and picking up whatever catches one's eye. In years gone by, beachcombing was often practiced by those who were down on their luck or otherwise had scant means and were looking for items to use or sell.
Myrtle Scharrer, in her book Yesteryear I Lived in Paradise, wrote about her beachcombing experiences growing up on in the early 1900s: “If there had been a winter blow, the beach would be newly covered with colorful shells of all kinds. Sometimes there was real treasure to be found .
. . a rare junonia, for which . . . a shell dealer would pay ten dollars.” And “sometimes timber washed in—things that could be used for dock repairs and other uses.” Myrtle saw these things as “gifts from the sea.” The main focus of the beachcomber is the area from just above the high tide line, usually marked by a row of seaweed and debris, down to the water's edge.
That line of debris left by the tide is called “wrack.” The wrack can be a thinly scattered line of seaweed, sticks and shells, or it can be a foot-deep mix of seaweed, shells, sponges, fans, sea pork, jellyfish and other marine life as well as boat parts and other cast-offs from passing ships. Whatever it contains, it is fertile ground for the beachcomber. Let’s have a look at some of the common things a beachcomber might find at .
Seaweed or Algae Sea algae and grasses are often referred to as seaweed. Some drift with the currents and others live attached to rocks or other hard surfaces, or have roots in the sandy bottom. At some point, many of them end up on the beach in the sea wrack where they dry up under the scorching sun and return to the earth. Pick through the wrack and see how many different kinds of algae and grasses you can find. They come in all colors: shades of green, brown, red, pink, purple and even white.
Many tiny creatures live and hide in the wrack and are eaten by birds and crabs. One of the most common types of algae found on the beach is called sargassum weed. It is usually easy to identify because it has hundreds of tiny round air bladders that look like berries. This weed is named after the Sargassum Sea, off the Florida Atlantic coast, where thick mats of sargassum float in its great expanse.
Another type of algae looks almost exactly like lettuce. It's called—you guessed it— sea lettuce. Turtle grass, another seaweed frequently found on the beach, has wide, flat green leaves that sometimes have tiny barnacles growing on them.
Sea Beans and Glass Sea beans, also called “drift seeds” are seeds or fruits, many from tropical rain forests, that have found their way into the sea and have washed up on the beach, often after drifting at sea for many years and traveling thousands of miles.
Beachcombers who search the beaches for sea beans often refer to themselves as “drifters.” Sea beans are special because they have hard shells that resist the penetration of salt water and they contain air, which allows them to float. Some are able to take root in their new environment. Because there are so many different kinds of seed, fruits and other plant parts that wash up on the beach, identifying them can be a challenge. One of the most easily recognized sea bean is the coconut. Others have names like hamburger bean, sea purse, starnut palm, monkey pistol and nickernuts.
In the hands of an artist, sea beans can be polished using a special process and made into beautiful jewelry. Sea glass is also highly prized by artisans for making jewelry.
Shards of glass from broken bottles that have been abraded by sand and seawater for many years take on a unique appearance and are completely smooth. Next time you are beachcombing in Florida, look for smooth pieces of glass down by the water's edge. They are colorful and easy to see. Sponges, Whips, Sea Pork and Squirts One of the more familiar items you may find on the beach is a sponge. Natural, living sponges are frequently seen on the beach or in the wrack. They come in all shapes, colors, and sizes, and have names like sheepswool sponge, redbeard sponge, and golfball sponge.
A sponge is actually composed of the skeletons of many tiny marine animals. Don't expect to take a found sponge back to your hotel room for bathing though. They have to be properly cleaned and dried before they can be used. Your nose will confirm that! Sea whips and sea feathers are actually soft corals that have thin, somewhat fragile branches. They attach themselves to the sea floor and wave gracefully in the current.
When storms or other events dislodge them, they end up on the beach. I love to find the deep purple-colored sea whips. Sea pork is a kind of tunicate, named because it resembles salted pork, more or less. It comes in all colors and is unmistakable when found on the beach. In their adult form (which is the way we find them), tunicates are simple marine animals that essentially take water in, filter it and discharge it.
Sea squirts are also a common tunicate found on the beach. Most are brown and fist-sized or smaller. When squeezed, they shoot out a thin stream of water, like a squirt-gun.
Kids will have fun with that discovery! Shells Everyone's favorite, sea shells are by far the most popular find for the beachcomber. Each beach has its own selection of shells. No two beaches are the same, nor does any one beach have the same selection of shells from day to day. One day might bring a beach full of pen shells. A visit to the same beach a week later might reveal a nice selection of cockleshells and sunray Venus clams. Experienced beachcombers know to look for shells at low tide and after storms or unusually strong tides.
All beaches have shells, but some of the best beaches for shells in Florida are located on the Gulf in southwest Florida. is the most famous, and deservedly so. Its shallow waters and beaches are so favored by shellers that their bent-over, shell-hunting body position has been dubbed the “Sanibel stoop.” And no visit to Sanibel is complete without a visit to the .
The hardest-to-find shells, and those in the best condition, are considered the most valuable to collectors who often look for live shells, since they are in the best condition. A live shell is one that still has the living animal inside, be it clam or conch. Many beaches do not allow the taking of live shells, including sand dollars, so be sure to ask. Some of my favorite beaches for shelling in southwest Florida include: • Marco Island • Sanibel / Captiva • Bonita Beach • Anna Maria Island • Caladesi and Honeymoon Islands Shelling must be one of the least expensive hobbies available.
All you really need is a bag or bucket to put the shells in—a separate bag for the more fragile shells is helpful—and, unless you are an expert, a good shell identification guide is a must.
Before you get started on your own beach treasure hunt, I'd like to recommend to you some of my favorite beachcombing resources.
After all, to identify everything you find you'll at least need a good field guide. Here are my recommendations: • Florida's Living Beaches, A Guide for the Curious Beachcomber , by Blair and Dawn Witherington, is a beautiful, full-color book that covers everything you might encounter at the beach, from shells to birds, and from seaweed to man-made flotsam and jetsam.
If you only buy one book for beachcombing, this is the one to get. • The Nature of Florida's Beaches, Including Sea Beans, Laughing Gulls and Mermaids' Purses , written and illustrated by the late Cathie Katz. A more charming book about Florida's beach life has never been written.
Easy to read, fascinating and completely practical for the beachcomber. After reading this book you will never look at beach wrack the same way again. In fact, reading any of Cathie Katz's books will give you a new view of the natural world. VISIT FLORIDA® is the Official Florida Tourism Industry Marketing Corporation.
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best dating long island beaches to find sea glass in florida - 11 Top
Like tiny washed up treasures, the colorful seashells that line many of Florida’s beaches can be discovered on a peaceful day of beachcombing. No two beaches offer the same shells, nor does one beach offer the same selection from day to day, but the rewards of this treasure hunting process reveal a collection of unblemished beauties.
From world-renown spots to lesser-known destinations, here are the best beaches for shelling in Florida. *Note: You need to inspect each shell before dropping into your bag, as it is illegal to take live shells from the beach. Sanibel & Captiva Islands () Known as the “Shelling Capital of the World”, Sanibel is by far the most popular destination in Florida for shelling. Its unique barrier island terrain allows shells to be washed up ashore throughout the year, where shell lovers do the “Sanibel Stoop” and discover pastel coquinas, junonia and lightning whelks.
Head to Blind Pass Beach on Sanibel or take a trip to nearby Cayo Costa State Park on Captiva Island. Marco Island () The sugar-white beaches on Marco Island reveal an array of treasures, from lion’s paws to moon shells, coquinas, clams and cockles, which are just some of the 400 shells species that have been found in the area.
Make a stop at unspoiled Tigertail Beach on the north side of the island, where it’s possible to collect a vast array of beautiful, exotic shells during your excursion. Caladesi & Honeymoon Islands () A combination of pristine beach and pine forest, the beaches on Honeymoon Island offer a unique landscape.
Its crystal clear waters allow for opportunities to look for sand dollars and other interesting shells along the beach and within the first few feet of where the water meets the beach. You can also visit nearby Caladesi Island State Park to stroll the protected beach area and look for shells. Anna Maria Island () Shelling is a favorite pastime for both locals and visitors alike near Anna Maria Island.
Sitting on the southern edge of the island is Coquina Beach, where soft white sand and clear waters offer plenty of shelling opportunities. Take the ferry to Egmont Key, where you can spend a quiet afternoon scouring through piles of shells that have washed up to the shoreline. Barefoot Beach, Naples () Barefoot Beach in Naples is on many shell collectors radar, as this 342-acre park makes for a fabulous day of treasure hunting. Look for corals, alphabet cone, arks, bonnets, bubbles, Conches and paws, from the tiny Kitten’s Paw to the giant Lion’s Paw.
This area is quiet and secluded, and its long stretch of beach can be enjoyed with a day of swimming, camping, canoeing and kayaking. Venice Beach () A great excursion that the kids will enjoy, go beachcombing along Venice Beach to discover prehistoric shark teeth.
Nicknamed the “Shark Tooth Capital of the World”, this beach offers unique souvenirs that date back millions of years. Your best bet is to head to the rock outcrops along the 177-acre Caspersen Park Beach on the south side of the city. Fort Myers Beach () A place to go beachcombing in solitude, Fort Myers Beach offers a landscape of frolicking dolphins in the water and an array of birds soaring over your head.
Enjoy a day of soaking up the sunshine and look for shells away from the crowds, where you’ll discover Florida spiny jewel box, tulip banded shells, Florida cones, conches and more. Afterwards, you can go birdwatching, kayaking or canoeing.
Navarre Beach, Pensacola () A sea glass beach in Santa Rosa County, Navarre Beach in Pensacola is a romantic escape from the hustle and bustle of more popular beach areas. You’ll find a collection of colorful shells in addition to beautiful glass, as the winds and sand dunes here that constantly shift make it an ideal place to discover something new every day, from turkey wing shells to cockle shells, olive shells and jingle shells.
Shell Island, Panama City Beach () You can take a shuttle or tour boat from Panama City to the aptly named Shell Island, a tiny oasis that is perfect for when you want to get away from it all. A pristine beach area that is unspoiled, its underdevelopment means you’ll find plenty of seashells to collect in addition to enjoying a day of swimming, snorkeling and beachcombing.
Look for conch shells, junonia shells, tulip shells and spotted slipper shells. Amelia Island () You’ll find an abundance of shells on Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach, including sand dollars, junonia shells, and tulip banded shells. Plan to shell around the low phase of the tide, and search in the “shell line” where the highest waves stop as they deposit groups of shells.
You can easily spend a quiet afternoon strolling for treasures and swimming in the calm waters. Hutchinson Island () Shelling on Hutchinson Island is a pleasant activity, as you won’t find the tourist crowds here.
With natural and artificial reefs, the shelling and sea glass hunting opportunities are endless here. Visit during low tide to peruse the shells that have washed up ashore, where you’ll find sand dollars and small pieces of smooth and beautifully frosted green and white colored glass. Fort De Soto Beach, Tierra Verde () Offering some of the best shelling in the Tampa region, Fort De Soto Beach is home to a huge variety of shells.
The park is made up of five islands, with the North Beach the most popular area for shelling, swimming and picnics. Search for sand dollar shells, lightning whelk shells and jingle shells during the day and sit back and enjoy the stunning sunset views in the evening. Sand Key Park, Clearwater () A great place to find conch shells, Sand Key Park in Clearwater is a haven for shell collectors. Turkey wing shells, lightning whelk shells and keyhole limpet shells can be found along the quiet shores, as a landscape of thousands of seashells offer the perfect afternoon activity for the entire family.
It’s less busy than nearby Clearwater Beach, with opportunities to go fishing and dolphin spotting.
Sea glass is found along the water's edge, hidden in pebbles or along a sandy strip. A collector can find tumbled shards by doing a little research beforehand. Look for highly populated shorelines either in the present or past. Explore areas with bluffs or cliffs that back the beach. Another useful indicator is finding an old seaport beach or a sandy strip along a shipping channel. Beach conditions and waves also affect the likelihood of finding sea glass.
East Coast Whether you live on the east coast or are just visiting, check out Hammonasset State Park in Madison, Connecticut. It boasts two miles of beach and is Connecticut's largest shoreline. Fire Island, New York, was once considered a bohemian retreat. This barrier island offers unspoiled sand dune beaches, perfect for finding sea glass. Indian River Inlet is inside the Delaware Seashore State Park with six miles of ocean and a bay shoreline for sea-glass scavenging. Hatteras Island, North Carolina is a sea glass haven with sand dunes and inlets, and just the right amount of wind and waves.
Navarre Beach, Florida, has fine, white sands and sea green waters. Offshore winds and constantly changing sand dunes make this a first-rate place for sea glass.
Look for wave lines in the sand as it is the usual spot for finding the shards. West Coast Out west? Try Rosario Beach on Fidalgo Island, Washington, which is a rugged beach surrounded by cliffs and forest. Among the kelp-covered rocks and pebbles washed up on shore are hidden shards of sea glass. In Hawaii, visit Lahaina, Maui, or Kauai's Glass Beach. Watch out for the sharp coral, slippery rocks and dangerous shore break. Before setting out, check the tides.
Scour both the sand and shoreline along the far side of the beach. Hot Spots A true enthusiast will want to comb these coastlines: Along the shore of Maine from East Port to Penobscot Bay, collectors can find glass in the sheltered beaches, harbors and coves. Beaches in Long Island start from Ditch Plains in Montauk down the coast to bustling Long Beach. Cape Cod National Sea Shore offers 40 miles of pristine sandy beaches.
Some of the finest sea glass can be found along the coast starting near Provincetown. There are 99 miles of coastline in Monterey, California for discovering shards. Collectors search the bay from Pebble Beach to Seaside. Monterey is ideal for sea glass due to its diverse coastline with dramatic cliffs, rocky shores and sandy beaches. Sea Glass Suppliers For those after large quantities for crafts or jewelry, contact sea glass suppliers.
Companies such as West Coast Sea Glass and Souris by the Sea offer genuine sea glass in bulk or special order. Sea glass suppliers also offer predrilled sea glass for jewelry making and small lots of hand-picked shards. Dawn Renée Levesque has been a writer for over 30 years. Her travel and fashion photographs have been exhibited in Europe and the United States. As a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Levesque is the author of "Women Who Walk With the Sky" and co-author of "Wisdom of Bear." She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography.
finding old gold on ocean beaches with a metal detector