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What fun to go shelling along the surf and beaches of Sanibel Island, unique in that it lies east and west, different than most islands which lie north and south, this direction allows Sanibel Island to catch abundant sea shells that the Gulf of Mexico brings to its shores. Sanibel Island is world renowned for its shells. People from all over the world come to collect and admire the colorful "Treasures From the Sea". People of all ages can be seen stooped over, shuffling along the beach with their buckets and nets in hand. We affectionately call this the "Sanibel Stoop!"

Some Tips

  1. Bring bucket, net bag and scoop, sun lotion and hat.
  2. Shell at low tide preferably and after a storm.
  3. It is illegal to take "live shells." Please return to water.

How to clean shells

Soak shells in a 50/50 solution of water and bleach, few hours or overnight. If any barnacles or other matter is left remove with a pick or toothbrush. To make shells shine wipe with mineral oil or baby oil.

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Sand dollars

You may collect sand dollars but first check to make sure that the sand dollar is not alive - turn it over - there are little centipede feet up and down the backside - gently touch them with your finger to see if they move, if they do it's alive and you should gently place it back into the water. If they do not move, then you have just found one of Captivas' treasures! To bleach a sand dollar white it is important to soak in fresh water first. Water will be a brownish color, change water frequently until fairly clear or just continually flush with water until water stays fairly clear. Soak in a 50/50 solution of bleach and water for 5-10 minutes. Caution: Do not soak too long in bleach solution as sand dollar may crumble. Rinse throughly, let dry preferably in sun to bleach further. To harden sand dollar for crafts or display: Mix equal portions of white glue and water. With paint brush cover sand dollar with mixture. Let dry.


Sanibel Island Beaches

Sanibel Island has breathtaking white sand beaches, clear blue water and an abundance of colorful shells that have been dubbed "Treasures From the Sea."

So that our beaches keep pristine we have a few rules:

  1. Pets must be leashed and owners must cleanup after their pets.
  2. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited November thru May.
  3. No open fire.
  4. No collecting of live shells. Return them to the water.
  5. Restrooms are located at all public beach accesses. All have handicap parking.
  6. A fee of $4 per hour for parking at both Sanibel Island and Captiva Island public beaches. Both cash and credit cards are accepted. Paid parking tickets are not interchangeable between Sanibel Island and Captiva Island.