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Why Sanibel Island has the Best Shelling in the United States

Sanibel Island Florida has gained its reputation as the best shelling destination in the world. Recently, Coastal Living magazine named Sanibel Island “the best U.S. shelling spot, and one of the best in the world.” Sanibel Island is located off the west coast of Florida near the city of Ft. Myers. People from all over the world visit Sanibel Island not only to enjoy its white sand beaches, but also to find hundreds of beautiful shells.

There are more than 400 varieties and species of shells found on Sanibel Island. The shells accumulate on Sanibel Island because of the way the island is situated, it runs East to West, this feature "catches" the shells and that is why there are such large deposits of shells found on the beaches.
Tides and winds also play a factor in the shells washing ashore. The disruption of shells due to the tides and winds are because of a large plateau that extends out from the island into the Gulf of Mexico for miles. This plateau acts as a shelf to gather thousands of shells that are eventually washed ashore. This feature allows visitors each year to enjoy the abundance of different varieties of shells to collect.

Most people state that winter is the best time of year to find shells. There are more storms to push the shells onto the white sandy beaches. But as a yearly summer visitor to Sanibel Island I can state that during the summer you will not be disappointed with your shelling experience.

Plan your shelling day by the tide charts. As the tide is going out this is generally the best time of the day to look for shells. The beach will double in size and as the water recedes you will find more treasures that were previously buried by the sea. You will have more "competition" looking for shells at this time of day but it will be a fun experience. The different phases of the moon can also be a factor in discovering more shells on certain days. When there is a new or full moon the tide will recede even farther thus exposing more of the beach.

The best locations for shelling on the island vary. If you are looking for smaller or miniature shells you would have the best luck near the Lighthouse end of the island. If you are looking for the larger shells, then you would need to go towards the Blind Pass or Captiva end of Sanibel Island.

Here are the two best beaches to begin your search for shells:

* The Causeway Beaches – There are no fees when parking on the causeway beach. These beaches are great for swimming, fishing, picnicking and shelling. At these beaches you can find hundreds of Sanibel Island shell species.

* The Lighthouse Beach and Fishing Pier – If you want to find a great variety of Sanibel Island shells, this is the perfect place to go. Great beach with a beautiful view. The beach is located on the eastern tip of Sanibel, wrapping around fro the gulf side to the bay side. Plenty of parking and easy access to the beach. There is a pier on the bay side for fishing.

*Sanibel Beaches - most are not public accessible due to the private condos, resorts and hotels. Be careful that you only park in designated areas with public beach access approved parking.

Sanibel Island Activities
Sanibel Island Shelling

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