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Great Beaches for Treasure Hunting

Enjoying the beach can be expensive.

There’s the cost of a room, a flattering bathing suit, those drinks in hollowed out pineapples with the umbrellas… So why not hunt for some treasure while you’re strolling along on the beach? One of my absolute favorite things to do is walk a stretch of sand hunting for a unique shell or rock that can I add to my collection, reminding me of this day and moment for years to come. Here are a two great picks for beaches that are known for their treasures.

Sanibel Island, Florida

The southern beach on Sanibel Island is widely considered THE place to shell in the US. Sanibel Island is notorious for attracting a large volume of shells of every size and shape. What makes Sanibel unique is its pleasantly curvy shape along the coastline adjacent to a group of other straighter and narrower islands.
The east-west position of Sanibel’s south end pulls and scoops up thousands of seashells that flow in from the Caribbean. The best time to go out hunting is after a Gulf storm or during a low spring tide at full or new moons. You can find dozens of species of shells at all of the Gulf-side beaches starting at the Lighthouse, heading to North Captiva. Don’t forget to put together a shell hunting kit…gather a bucket, net bag, scoop, and beach shoes. Shuffle as you walk to uncover hidden treasures!

Calvert Cliffs State Park, Maryland

This stretch of sand in Calvert Cliffs State Park along the Chesapeake Bay isn’t your typical beach. The reason people travel to this beach is not that they are in search of a boardwalk or a perfect stretch of sand to spend the day. They come here to search for fossils of animals that lived in the region 10 to 20 million years ago!
This area consistently produces fossilized shells and sharks teeth from the Miocene era, but there are also a number of current-era clams and other mollusk shells to be found. If you’re going for the fossils, most are found just slightly under the surface of the sand, so bring a small shovel and something to help you sift.

Do you like to treasure hunt during your beach vacation? Share your secrets for finding the best shells!


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This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. I love shells and treasure hunting, so I would love to visit Sanibel Island, Florida. But then, never been to a beach full of glass… So I think would love Glass Beach, California…. Thanks for the 3 suggestions Samantha…

    While walking along the beach, I always keep an eye for something unusual. Trained myself to do that over the years…

  2. Doran Regional Park / Bodega Bay, California!
    We have camped there in May and June. Our 4 little ones always come home with oodles of sand dollars and sea shells. It makes for an unforgettable family treasure hunt. Many of our finds are alive, and not to be disturbed (sea stars, crab, mussels, sea anemones and so much more) but many keepers are to be found as well!

  3. Hi, I heard that there was a nice beach in Bermuda that has sea glass and you can actually have jewelry made out of it.

  4. Unfortunately, the glass at Glass Beach is not for the taking. The locals see the beach as something to be protected as is. They don’t want it depleted by outsiders carting it all away. You can try to take some, but you will likely be stopped and asked to return your finds.

  5. One of my former colleagues at work used to hand out small glass vials to his co-workers and ask them to fill them with sand from different beaches they visited. He probably got a kick out of looking at the vials and observing how the color and the texture of the sand varied among beaches.

  6. We stayed at Panama City Beach last winter and went down to Mexico Beach about 20 miles away, and collected shells! Some days we collected 50 Sand dollars! It was great!

  7. I do not understand why there are all these beautiful pictures of Glass Beach in Fort Bragg. We took a trip to California in 2014 and drove 2 hours to see Glass Beach. There was not glass on the beach and it looks nothing like any of the pictures. I cannot believe that you recommend to go there for the glass. It is a quaint town that is worth a visit but the beach does not look like that. I really think you should do a little more research. I love all of your shows and blogs.

    1. We visited Glass Beach in Fort Bragg in 2015 and found a ton of glass on Glass Beach. Are you sure you were on the correct beach? There was more glass than sand. It was truly beautiful. There are beaches around Fort Bragg that don’t have as much glass, it’s actually hard to find, especially around the harbor.

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