Thanks to the geography of The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel, hundreds of species of unbroken shells roll onto our shores and into your reach. For shelling fun, keep your feet in the sand and eyes on the tide – this place is world renowned for perfect specimens of all manner of beautiful sea shells!
Here on the Southwest Florida coast, the warm waters from the Gulf of Mexico gently wash hundreds of thousands of seashells ashore each day. You’ll be happy as a clam to know there’s a whole day dedicated to these gifts from the sea. On June 21, we celebrate (or shellebrate) National Seashell Day.
This holiday is a great opportunity to relax and take a moment to remember the beach and nature. The best souvenir is free and on our beaches you will find some of the best shelling in the world. First-time scavengers and seasoned shellers do the “Sanibel stoop” or “Captiva crouch” to get a closer look at the endless shell hash blanketing the sand.
When is the best time to go shelling? Anytime, but often, the early morning at low tide is best. Also, after a storm is a good time to discover what the rolling tide brings to shore. Every day creates a unique shelling experience. The change in tide or shoreline reveals new specimens. With Sanibel Island’s east-west orientation, gentle waters push along the Gulf’s sloping sea floor, allowing many shells to arrive unharmed.
In Lee County, local resorts and hotels also get in on the fun with deals and specials on lodging, so it’s easier than ever to spend time on the beach. But shelling isn’t the only way to celebrate.
The annual Sanibel Shell Show, March 1-3, 2018, is considered to be one of the top shell shows in the U.S. Shellers bring their crafts, including amazing creations, like sailor’s valentines, to compete for prizes. It is also a fundraiser for local educational organizations like Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum and Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation.
There are also tours and guided cruises for shellers to experience. You’ll visit some of the best spots to find lettered olives, lightning whelks, Florida fighting conchs, baby’s ears, worm shells, nauticas, scallops, coquinas and other bivalves.
But one of the rarest finds – and the shell that keeps many returning – is the brown-speckled junonia. Those who come looking for a particular shell often find so much more if they remain open to the surprises twinkling on the beach.
Plenty of other exciting and fun activities happen all summer long on The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel. Find inspiration for your next beachcomber adventure on a shell tour of Fort Myers Beach, form a search party at Zoomers Amusement Park for the shell scavenger hunts, or surround yourself with shell exhibits, history and festivities at the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum.
During your visit, if you happen to see the Shell Love Bug you might think you’re seeing things. This 2005 Volkswagen Beetle convertible, decorated with more than 20,000 seashells, is a mobile work of art.
It is adorned with more than 60 species – from the ordinary scallop to the most coveted of them all, the junonia. In total, the shells added about 200 lbs. to the weight of the VW Bug.
Keep your eye out for our special events related to National Seashell Day and other shelling fun at fortmyers-sanibel.com/.