Sanibel Island, Florida - This island is all about shells

Shells on Sanibel Island

Florida Sanibel Island is the island of shells

If you visit Sanibel Island in Florida, you can't avoid the topic of mussels. The Sanibel Island Florida Beaches are a treasure trove for shell collectors. You can find mussels everywhere: on the beach, in the souvenir shop, in the restaurant and even in the museum. Clams are the Theme on this island on the west coast of Florida. We learned this on our Florida trip in January. Already when we were in our hotel - the West Wind Inn, which is right on the the beach Check-in, the lady at the reception explains to us before the location of our room, that when we come from the beach, we should first go to the "shell shed" to wash our collected mussels and remove the sand clean. In fact, the first three women we meet in the hotel corridor when we bring our luggage into the room have three bulging plastic bags in their hands - full of mussels.



“That seems to be a popular sport here,” I think to myself. A view that will only be confirmed over the next few days, because they go on every beach we visit Beach walkers bent down along, gazing spellbound on the sand and in the hope of discovering a particularly beautiful shell. This posture even has its own name in Sanibel Florida. It's called the “Sanibel Scoop”. Some - obviously locals - even have buckets with them, and the very savvy even have a digging stick. They follow the tracks that the mussels leave in the sand and dig them up.


Sanibel Island Florida Beaches - clams en masse
Head down? The Sanibel Scoop - typical of Sanibel Island Florida


You dig up Sanibel Island shells

We used to think that mussels were just lying around on the beach after being washed up by the waves. But at the Sanibel Island Shell Museum, we learn that this is not the case. On the contrary, the mussels push their way very slowly through the sand, and many dig themselves in. They don't make it easy for clam hunters to find them. But the joy is all the greater when you come across a particularly beautiful specimen. But since it is forbidden to export mussels, we prefer to leave the active mussel hunt to the Americans and watch them laboriously search for their treasures. The best time for this is always shortly after the tide has come in. Then the waves from the south tirelessly wash new, large and beautiful mussels ashore, whereby only the dead ones are allowed to be collected. The Lighthouse Beach on Sanibel is therefore not the best for looking for clams. The Sanibel beaches on the south coast are better. If the mussels are still alive, you have to leave them on the beach.

Discover more Southwest Florida Beacheshere. Florida's beaches with the clearest water can be found here.


Do you like to travel by motorhome?

  • Do you want to rent a motorhome? Then you will find information and a selection in these  booking options.
  • Check our packing list for campers to see whether you have packed everything for your motorhome tour.
  • On Sanibel Island you can use the Periwinkle Trailer Park Where to stay: 1119 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, FL 33957, United States. This is the only campsite on Sanibel Island.



Seashells from the Sanibel Island Florida Beaches
Shell shop on Periwinkle Way on Sanibel Island Florida


Sanibel Island Florida is a clam paradise

There are shells on Sanibel Island not only on the beach, but also on land. If you drive along the Periwinkle Way, the main street of the island, which is named after a type of shell, you will even pass two souvenir shops that specialize exclusively in the sale of shells. In the shop windows of “She Sells Sea Shells” - (try to pronounce the name. We have been training all week we spent on the island) - from large to tiny shells are all the varieties that are on the beaches of the Island to discover. Here too, however, we are not sure whether we can take these beauties to Germany and resist the temptation to take one of them with us as a souvenir.

If you still don't want to do without Sanibel Island shells as a souvenir of the island, there is still the option of shell-shaped decoration, and the shopping centers on Periwinkle Way are full of them. They are also tasteful, so this can certainly be an attractive alternative to the real ones.


That must be for a trip to Sanibel in the Florida suitcase



Furniture with shell decoration
Furniture with shell decoration


Learn more about the clams on Florida's Sanibel Island

A visit to Sanibel Island is incomplete without studying the shells that the sea washes on the beaches. There are many ways where and how you can do this. Check them out on a morning stroll on the beach. Then you have a chance to see really big ones. Visit the Shell Museum. There you can find out more about this phenomenon. Look in the souvenir shops for souvenirs that remind you of the shell island. But beware! You are not allowed to bring real mussels into Germany.

Travel Arrangements

Parking at the airport

Here you can reserve your parking space at the airport.


Arrival by plane, bus or train*. Various airlines fly to Miami, including Lufthansa, United Airlines and others

Rental car

Book your rental car here*

Hotels and accommodations

Book yours Accommodation on Sanibel Island *



Sanibel Island Florida
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Source Sanibel Island Florida: On-site research supported by the trip through The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel

Text Sanibel Island Florida Beaches: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Photo Sanibel Island Florida: © Copyright by Petar Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline

Sanibel Island, Florida - This island is all about shells

Travel expert Monika Fuchs

Monika Fuchs and Petar Fuchs are the authors and publishers of the Food and Slow Travel blog  TravelWorldOnline. They have been publishing this blog since 2005. TravelWorldOnline has been online since 2001. Their topics are trips to Savor, wine tourism worldwide and slow travel. During her studies Monika Fuchs spent some time in North America, where she - partly together with Petar Fuchs - traveled to the USA and Canada and spent a research year in British Columbia. This intensified her thirst for knowledge, which she satisfied for 6 years as an adventure guide for Rotel Tours and then for 11 years as a tour guide for Studiosus Reisen around the world. She was constantly expanding her travel regions, but curiosity still gnawed at her: "What's beyond the horizon? What else is there to discover in this city? Which people are interesting here? What do they eat in this region?" As a freelance travel journalist (her articles have appeared in DIE ZEIT, 360° Canada, 360° USA, etc.), she is now looking for answers to these questions as a travel writer and travel blogger in many countries around the world. Petar Fuchs produces the videos on this blog as well as on YouTube. Monika Fuchs from TravelWorldOnline is among Germany's top 50 bloggers in 2021. Find more Information about Monika and Petar Fuchs here.