Captiva Island Captiva Island shares the distinction of being 1 of Florida’s Shell Islands. Captiva is generally the spot to find the larger of the intact shells. Turner Beach, though not good for swimming because of fast currents, is the perfect spot for a shell-hunting adventure. Just be sure to leave any live shells on the beach or risk breaking the strict shelling laws. At sunset, head to Captiva Beach at the end of Captiva Drive to take in a spectacular sunset.
Sanibel Island Along with Captiva, Sanibel is a unique barrier island with east-west orientation that differs from the typical north-south layout. This east-west designation has helped Sanibel earn its reputation as one of the Shell Islands - prime spots along Florida’s coastline for gathering perfectly intact shells in every shape and size. Hit the beach with a bucket, shovel and small net and stroll the beach at low tide to peruse the ocean’s bounty of conch, cockles and scallop shells. Bowman’s Beach is the quietest and most remote stretch of sand in Sanibel, while a historic lighthouse beckons visitors to take a stroll on the rustic boardwalk at Lighthouse Beach.
Sanibel and Captiva Islands, Florida
The wealth and variety of shells have made Sanibel and Captiva Islands top American destinations for seashells.
The islands are actually made out of shells, like some fascinating work of shell art created by nature over thousands of years. When locals dig gardens in their backyards, they often find conchs, whelks, scallops and clam shells mostly perfectly intact. People come from all over the world to Sanibel and Captiva Islands, drawn by the song of the seashell.
Every March there is a special annual Sanibel Shell Fair & Show, where shell collectors and artists proudly gather to show and compare their collections and designs. Shells are the dominant motif in islands décor and boutique gifts.
The islands rank tops in the world for shells because of geography. Sanibel Island does the twist as it parades along the coastline among a string of other more orderly, straight-and-narrow islands. The east-west torque of Sanibel's south end acts like a shovel scooping up all the seashells that the Gulf imports from The Caribbean and other southern seas.
All of the Gulf-side beaches on Sanibel and Captiva Islands are great for shell hunting. You will find a lot of conch shells, junonia shells, lightning whelks, cockle shells, tulip shells, sand dollar shells and coquinas shells.