Beach House Diaries: 8 Tips for Collecting Gifts from the Sea

Colin Whitcomb

Anne Morrow Lindbergh knew where to look for coveted seashells: after all Captiva (her destination of choice) and its sister island Sanibel are magnets for conchologists. Some 400 species have been identified there, including the shell hunters' "Holy Grail" – the Junonia. Treasures, though, can turn up almost anywhere. Here are a few tips to get you started.

  • The prime rule for beachcombing is "the lower the traffic the higher the haul." So you'll do best in less accessible or popular areas.
  • Hot spots include tiny coves, crevices or any other sort of geographic feature which can trap whatever booty the currents bring in.
  • Regardless of the location, you'll be most successful in the early morning hours after the tide retreats or immediately after a storm.
  • The Conchologists of America site has info on clubs and conventions for shell addicts, plus links to a handy world tide predictor.
  • As you scan the sand, bear in mind some places have laws prohibiting you from removing any living shells from their habitats.
  • Remember, too, that it's not all about the big score: collecting's hypnotic quality makes it a therapeutic activity for stressed adults.
  • As an added bonus, it's hard for kids to adopt the standard bent-over stance (alternately called the Sanibel Stoop or Captiva Crouch) while using a smart phone. That leaves the door open for those heart-to-hearts parents pine for.
  • More interested in sea glass? Websites such as Sea Glass Journal and Odyssey Sea Glass will help point you in the right direction.
Susan MacCallum-Whitcomb will report on life at a summer beach house in AOL Travel's weekly Beach House Diaries. Follow along with her or share your beach house tips in the comments below.
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