Because the island is oriented east to west, rather than north to south, its beaches serve as a kind of shelf to catch hundreds of varieties of shells washed up by the tides.
At the hours before and after low tide, more of the beach is exposed. You may even be able to walk out onto the sand bar, where you will find a wide variety of shells at different levels on the beach. You can find current tide charts at the Sanibel Chamber of Commerce.
During a new or full moon, the tide recedes more than at other times. Because more of the beach is exposed, you will have a greater chance of finding shells.
The best times for shelling follow windy and stormy weather, especially after a tropical storm or a hurricane. High winds disrupt the shells in the Gulf of Mexico, sending them washing up on Sanibel's beaches.
SanibelFlorida.com recommends December through April as the best months for finding shells. Sanibel's summertime weather tends to be calm with few storm fronts passing through.
Article Written By Gwen Bruno
Gwen Bruno has been a full-time freelance writer since 2009, with her gardening-related articles appearing on DavesGarden. She is a former teacher and librarian, and she holds a bachelor's degree in education from Augustana College and master's degrees in education and library science from North Park University and the University of Wisconsin.