Southwest Florida is filled with an array of outdoor adventures, from fishing and boating to kayaking and other water sports. But in one particular area, some of the best adventures can also be found in slowing it down a bit.
That’s the case on Sanibel Island, where shelling can mean hours of combing the sand. This barrier island features some of the region’s most pristine beaches, where a leisurely stroll is perhaps the best pastime of all.
Much less strenuous than some other beach hobbies, shelling on Sanibel offers the opportunity to stroll for miles upon uninterrupted sand, searching for the latest treasures. Because of its unique position, the island is in a great place to collect shells, with some of the best times to search not long before or following low tide and even after a storm. Oftentimes too, the winter season washes even more shells to the shores of Sanibel.
Beachcombers will commonly find low tide a great place to uncover delicate starfish and small sand dollars, although you’re not allowed to take live shells from the beach. Still, though, you’ll find several different varieties that wash ashore in the area from time to time, often determined by the tide, the wind and the current.
If you’re looking for a little expertise, you can always test your shell knowledge at the nearby Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, the only museum of its kind in the nation. The museum even offers its own daily beach walks and guided nature strolls for a small fee.
It isn’t entirely surprising that the museum would make its home in the area. After all, Travel + Leisure ranks Sanibel as the top spot in North America for shelling, and some consider it one of the best in the world. It’s so popular that people are said to come from all across the globe just to take part in this popular pastime.