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Top Beaches for Shells & Seaglass in the USA

Posted by Mermaid Julie on

Beach combing is in my blood. 

I find it curious that most people have no interest in what has washed ashore. 

I’m obsessed!

Get me to the beach so I can hunt!

I grew up on the protected shores of the Puget Sound where I collected from a young age tiny periwinkles, agates, moon snails, and if I was lucky… arrowheads! 

Would you book a trip just for beach combing? 

I would!

Here is my top 7 list of must-comb beaches in the USA...

Pin it Now, Read it Later :)

Best shell beaches and seaglass beaches in the USA


Tunnels Beach, Kauai, Hawaii (Shells)

Tunnels Beach

Kaua’i must be one of the America’s most magical bits of earth!

I have been lucky enough to spend hours hunting along the white-sand shores of Tunnels and nearby beaches.

There are big shiny cowries, beautiful cone shells, olives, puka, augers, ni’ihau and so many more!  This place is worth a visit, shelling or no.

Insider Nugget: Ni‘ihau Shells (named after the neighboring forbidden island) are tiny shells ranging from pinks to greens. When pricked with a pin you can string them into beautiful ropes as they lie together tightly. Ni’ihau shells were worn by Hawaiian royalty and are still very cherished today. Every mermaid should have some! When hunting, look in the coral patches ;)

Niihau Shells


Sanibel & Captiva, Florida (Shells)

 Sanibel Shells

Dear King Triton, please buy me a ticket to Florida! 

This is like the be-all end-all of shell beaches.

It is known the world over as being one of the best shell beaches on earth.

Sanibel Island and Captiva Island are thick with shells. It’s one of those beaches where just by walking you are crushing hundreds of perfect specimens… (so I’ve heard!)

If you go, pick one for me. This one’s on my bucket list!

Insider Nugget: The most cherished shell to find here is the Junonia Shell... 


Port Townsend, Washington (Mostly Seaglass)

Port Townsend

Port Townsend is an idyllic mermaid town.

There is a cute little harbor and old downtown on the water, and best of all, around the point is a long stretch of gravel beach full of frosty sea glass!

It is pretty well known, so lots of pickers are here often.

Even with the many seaglass hunters, I’ve found beautiful reds, pinks and purples! My dad still remembers the old dump on the cliff he visited as a kid (the reason for this seaglass honey-hole!) 


Insider Nugget: Park at North Beach and walk west. Be sure to visit Siren’s Pub, it’s decorated with mermaids!! 


Fort Bragg, California (Seaglass)

Ft Bragg

Can't miss this one... the best sea glass hole on the West Coast!

What was once the towns dump is now park land, and they beg the sea glass-obsessed visitors to not take any glass.

Not a long drive north of San Fran, this beach looks like it was made of glass pebbles… need I say more? Yes. Directions please!

Insider Nugget: The beaches get thousands of visitors a day in the summer and most are taking glass. The councilmen considered replenishing the beaches, but gave-up after considering the permits. Better visit soon!


Oahu, Hawaii (Shells)


A beachcomber is lucky indeed, when they find a rare shell, especially a sunrise shell!

Hawaii is known for many shells found nowhere else on earth. The most famous and cherished is the Sunrise Shell, aka Sunny.

Sunnys grow in deep water and rarely wash to the shore. They are often collected by divers and sold for surprising amounts of cash ($30-$2000 a piece!) 

Insider Nugget: Get to the beach early, bring a snorkel and fins, be patient. The Hawaiians say the sunrise shell chooses you!


Ocracoke Island, North Carolina (Shells)

North Carolina Shells

The outer banks of North Carolina is a shellers paradise. You can find olives, periwinkles, beautiful whelks, coquina clam and the prized scotch bonnet and queen helmet conch! Scope beaches around Nags Head, where the pockets are holding. The most reliable way to score is after a big storm when shells wash up in huge piles.

Insider Nugget: Patches of grass and seaweed are often holding shells. An old wives tale is that the yuckiest piles of seaweed are where the best shells are hiding.


Rincon Beach, California (Shells & Seaglass)


It’s not very easy to find seaglass here, but after the right storm you will be the lucky hunter to loads of old, well-tumbled sea glass. I’ve found a handful of marbles here, and my best reds ever! If the sea glass isn’t up, chances are you will find some nice shells, including abalones! 


Insider Nugget: The sea glass hunting is unlikely to be good in the summer. Winter time is best and at low-tide only. My luck has been after a big swell.  

One last note...

I used to be totally obsessed about taking home everything I found. A bit of hoarding you might say (not unlike Ariel!). After some time, I started to take photos instead, and I cherish them without hauling loads of shells and seaglass off the beach that others might enjoy. Okay okay, I don't leave everything!

Comb responsibly :) 

Sorting shells in a Mermaid Tail Blanket

And, trust me, you NEED this gorgeous blanket! Get it here »» Teal Mermaid Tail Blanket


Mermaid Julie

P.S. See Bucket List Seaglass Beaches here

Bucket List Seaglass Beaches

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