Tips on Collecting Seashells – A Fun Beach Activity For Any Age

Tips on Collecting Seashells – A Fun Beach Activity For Any Age

Walking on the beach and finding seashells is an activity that has been enjoyed by millions of people of all ages, on almost every continent. It’s such a popular thing to do for several reasons. First, it lets us enjoy the ocean, and gives us something to do other than lie on a beach towel and bake in the sun. And then there’s the actual joy of finding something to take home from your vacation that will bring back memories when displayed. And there are lots of ways to display your shells, (which is an article for another day.)

Here are some general tips for shell collecting:

  • Unfortunately for all the summer visitors to the beach, the really best time for shell collecting is in late winter and early spring. I live in Myrtle Beach and my favorite time of the year (and the most productive for shell collecting) is when most of the tourists have gone home and the weather has cooled.
  • Always expect to find shells at low-tide.
  • You’ll always find a greater variety where fewer people are congregated.
  • If low-tide is really early in the morning, that’s a win-win situation.
  • After a storm is an awesome time – many new items will have washed ashore.

More tips for shell collecting:

  • Make sure you’ve got the right to collect shells. You’re probably OK on a public beach.
  • Wear some sort of shoes, because if you go into some mud-flats or into waters that have sharp pebbles or broken shells, your feet will thank you.
  • Take a container with you that won’t break and is easy to carry. I like to use a nylon net bag with a strap that I can wear like a backpack. A pail or bucket with a handle will also work.
  • Look along the shoreline right where the tide has been, or even a few feet into the water – maybe about ankle-deep. This is much easier if the water is very clear. And if it’s not clear water, be careful about just sticking your hand underwater unless you know for sure the water doesn’t have jellyfish.
  • If you see little tiny mounds of sand, especially mounds with a little hole in the top, it could be a live sand dollar. Pry up the sand gently with a spoon or a plastic rake or shovel, and take a look. If that’s what you find, be very gentle as they can break easily. One morning in May, I took a very early morning walk and watched the sun come up. On that walk along the beach on the south side of Myrtle Beach, I found 10 sand dollars and 4 different kinds of starfish.

Collecting shells is an activity that can be enjoyed solo, or with anyone of any age. Children love it! Remember that shells house live animals, and starfish and sand dollars can also be found very much alive. If you collect something that’s alive, be sure you know how to prepare them for the trip home. Otherwise, the odor will make you think something has died – because it has!

Whatever beach you choose for your family vacation, make some shell collecting part of the memories you make. If you choose Myrtle Beach, be sure to call the good folks at Oceanfront Vacations Rentals for help in choosing the perfect accommodations. Their website is: They’ve been helping my friends and family for years. Tell them I sent you.

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