For the serious beachcomber, the most important thing about shelling is to know the tides. The best shells are found just before low tide. Another opportune time is after a storm – advancing cold fronts tend to push water away from the beach and tropical storms can churn up the tides bringing shells ashore.

Below are three excellent locations for shelling:

1. Park at the pier near Alamanda Road and North Shore Drive and walk counter clockwise around the tip of the island. Although shelling can be sporadic, it is a very short walk and you might enjoy seeing the numerous starfish.

2. Park near the gulf front park at Gulf Blvd. and Palm Ave. This is the best… especially at low tide when a sandbar extends out into the Gulf a few hundred yards.

3. Take the ferry to Egmont Key and pick shells until you can’t carry anymore!

Identifying your shells:

The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum has a great online shell guide that will help you recognize the various pieces in your collection. To browse shells commonly found in South West Florida, go to their Website.