The Seashells of Sanibel

Sanibel Island, Florida, is known as the shell island because, well, it’s made out of shells! Everywhere you go – shells. In everyone’s yard, on the side of the road, even the sidewalks are made out of shells.

All sorts of exotic shells can be found on the beach. I didn’t find any large shells, probably because it is such a popular pastime that all the really big ones get scooped up pretty fast, but there were literally tons of small shells. Bucket-loads. But if a big one is what you really want, there are plenty of shell shops that sell seashells by the seashore on Sanibel.

Say it with me now: Sanibel shell shops sell seashells by the seashore, Sanibel shell shops sell seashells by the seashore, Sanibel shell shops sell seashells by the seashore.

Beach on Sanibel Island, Florida
Please click the image to view a larger version.

The reason there are so many shells here is because it is a barrier island that has an east-west orientation whereas most are north-south. Also the island is part of a large plateau that extends out into the Gulf of Mexico for miles and acts as a sort of shelf for the seashells.

Seashells on Sanibel Island, Florida

The gorgeous shells and white sand beaches are only one reason to visit Sanibel Island. It is also home to the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge and I’ll have more on that next week.

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  1. says

    very cool Anne! I found the same thing on a beach in Naples, FL – it was littered with millions of shells, and there was hundreds of live conch walking around too, pretty wild stuff – anyways, great shots as usual! have fun out there!
    Jim Nix recently posted..On the banks of Loch LomondMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Jim, I didn’t get to the beach in Naples, we kind of went around the city to get to Sanibel. I didn’t see any live conch walking around though – that would be so cool!! Well, another reason to go back I guess! Thank you very much for your comments.

    • says

      Hi Russ, I think it is all what you get used to because I see the tourists on the west coast collecting mussel and oyster shells like they are some sort of prize. But we don’t have the abundance of shells like I found on Sanibel. It’s really amazing that the sea produces so much. Thanks again for your comments.

    • says

      Hi Mim, Sanibel was a real treat, next time I would like to spend more time there. There are some fabulous palaces on the island too, but much like the rest of Florida, many of them are for sale. It was pretty cool just how many shells there were. Thank you so much for your comments.

    • says

      Hi Chris, oh really, you’re family’s favourite spot? That’s cool. It was a great spot to call your favourite! I could spend hours there looking at all the shells. Thanks for your comments.

  2. Nancy Barrett says

    Anne, thank you for taking me back to Sanibel! It’s been years and although I’d gone there with birding and photography in mind, I’ve always been crazy about shells. I collect them and when I was on Sanibel, I had a little time to beachcomb through the shells. I loved it! I could have spent hours. I still have some of those shells from all those years ago. Hopefully I’ll be back soon.

    • says

      Hi Nancy, I had to restrain myself from collecting because we live in an RV with a very limited amount of room, so I cannot collect too much stuff from my travels. I limited myself to about 6 really small shells that are the same type, a little jar of sand, and lots of photos. Thank you very much for your comments.

    • says

      Hi Lara, people on Sanibel had everything decorated with the shells. Large shells in their gardens and placed in their windows, the restaurants would have them as centrepieces, they were everywhere! Thank you very much for your comments.

    • says

      Hi Melanie, oh you live in a lovely spot in the world! There are so many beautiful beaches, birds and seashells to enjoy there. I’m glad you enjoyed how I portrayed your back yard! Thanks for your comments.

    • says

      Hi Edith, I highly recommend Sanibel if you are into shells. I have never been to a place quite like it. Plus the wildlife refuge is there too. It’s a great spot! Thanks for your comments.

    • says

      Hi Travel World, thank you very much for adding my post to your ePaper, much appreciated! I love the ePapers, such a great way to keep up on topics of interest. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I had a few other posts from Ding Darling and Fort Myers beach if you are looking for posts from that area of Florida.

  3. Thanks a bunch says

    Thanks for the awesome article. I honestly like your website and decided that I would let you know! 😀 Thanks, Thanks a bunch

  4. julie says

    I live in Australia and never would of known about a place called Sanibel until I recently read a book called Sanibel Scribbles by Christine Lemmon. I love that you have shared this story & photos with us, all the seashells makes it extra special.
    Oh, I do love to be beside the seaside
    Oh, I do love to be beside the sea…
    Smiles & blessings,

    • says

      Hi Julie,
      Well I live right here in North America and I hadn’t heard of Sanibel either until I went to Florida. It is a very unique place and I love all the colourful seashells. Thanks for your visit and comments!

  5. GRAMMA ROSIE says



    • says

      Hi Gramma Rosie :) Yes, I believe the seashells are always there. In fact, everything on the island seems to be made out of them. All the homes have tons of seashells decorating the gardens and even the sidewalks have seashells embedded in the concrete. I think it has to do with the ocean currents in that area depositing the seashells at that particular place. Thank you for your visit and comments!

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