More than 400 species of seashell can be found on Sanibel's beaches. Why there?
Sanibel's boomerang shape sticks out in the Gulf of Mexico like a crooked finger. The island's east-west direction makes it the perfect receptacle for catching millions of seashells.
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.
Sanibel Island 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 Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum.
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.