At the Beach — February 20, 2014 at 5:00 am

Top US Beaches to Hunt for Shells

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Collecting shells is a favorite past time for beach combers, and not just a childlike activity. Whether you actively search for shells or randomly collect a shell as you stroll on by, shelling is a natural, yet meditative, task while beach walking. For the best shells it’s best to beat the crowd at low tide, especially during full and new moons. Winter storms wash-up hundreds if not thousands of shells on shore waiting your itching fingers to grab hold of your new shiny treasure. Whether you love puca shell necklaces or conch shells for decorations, these are the best beaches to for shells in the US.

Sanibel Island, FloridaThis shelling mecca is known as one of if not the best beach for shelling in the states. At times shells conquer the beach making it impossible to know if the beach is made from shells or sand. March is an ideal time to visit, especially for those eager to check out the Sanibel Shell Fair and Show. Shell collectors and artists make way to capture shells of all kinds. But if you find the twisted cone shell (with giraffe-like spots) be sure to contact the press, as you’ll likely get a head shot in the local paper. Coquinas, scallops, whelks and sand dollars are popular here.

Gulf Islands National Seashore, Pensacola FloridaThis is a spectacular beach located on Florida’s panhandle. Collectors come in search of the prehistoric shells, including sand dollars, lucinas, augers, coquinas and alphabet cones. Post storm, the  beach fills with a special prize called hurricane balls. These egg-shaped balls are created from the Gulf storms whirling together straw, palmetto grass and seaweed, which looks like a stone or shell.

Shipwreck Beach, Lanai, HawaiiShipwreck is an adventurous spot for beach combers in search of special Hawaiian shells. The 8-mile beach is accessible via foot or four-wheel-drive vehicle. Coral, violet snails, imperial cones and textile cones are popular discoveries in this region.

Cumberland Island National Seashore, GeorgiaThis desolate beach is popular for the shell-picker who enjoys solitude and nature. The shoreline consists of 17-miles of unspoiled shoreline and hundreds of unpicked specimens. Beach goers may walk for hours without seeing another individual. Sand dollars and shark teeth have been spotted on the shoreline. Moon snails, ark shells disc clams and olives are popular in this region.

San Jose Island, TexasAlthough most things are bigger and better in Texas, not all shells are bigger, but expectations are better. Walk or ride a fat-tire bike along the shoreline in search of sundials, sharks eye and caramel color lightening whelks the size of your fist. Thanks for making everything bigger, Texas.

Bandon, OregonWest Coast beaches are not the most prized in the shell-abundance contest, partly due to the roaring Pacific ocean eating and crumbling the specimens. However, Bandon shoreline features shells particularly in the protected Coquille River region. However, winter storms stir up Japanese glass fishing floats and semi-precious stones such as Jasper and Agate. It’s a great place to kill two birds with one stone, for those who enjoy geological wonders.

Tunnels Beach, Kauai, HawaiiThe North Shore of the “Garden Isle” features plenty sand, sea and shells. There are many shell harvesting opportunities along the North Shore, especially around the Haena area. Tunnels beach contains a protective reef, which makes it an ideal beach to snorkel and shell. Legend has it this is where the puca-necklace craze began in the 1960’s.

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