Wild, Wild West


As I mentioned not too long ago, the Queen and I have been approached by a couple of folks who expressed interest in providing a “Guest Blog” post. So today, one of our fellow blogging friends has written an article about Shelling on the West Coast of the United States.

I know we get readers from all over the world stopping by The Shell King, so if you’re interested in shelling in other parts of the country and world – namely the Western Seaboard, well here you go. 🙂

So without further adieu, the following is a guest post from Angie Picardo, a staff writer for NerdWallet.com

Collecting Shells on the West Coast

The Pacific coast is known for its natural beauty and stunning landscapes, as anyone who has spent time driving along Highway 1 can attest.  For those interested in exploring the life that exists just below the waves – and maybe taking home a well-earned memento – here are some tips to ensure successful shell hunting, as well as some spots that are known for their variety and quality of shells.

When to go

The most beach is exposed in the hours immediately before and after low tide, making this the best time for shell hunting.  Checking the local tide charts will help determine the exact times. If you happen to have a lot of leeway with the time of month, you should note that the tide ebbs lowest during full and new moons, exposing the greatest amount of beach.  It also helps to be an early riser: getting out for the first low tide of the day means that you’ll have beat the crowds and won’t come upon a beach that’s already been picked over.

Where to go

Southern California

For collectors on the southern stretch of coast, southern California unfortunately isn’t typically known for an abundance of shells. But there are some hidden gems, especially at Silver Strand State Beach in San Diego’s South Bay.  Named for the silver oyster shells that cover its dunes, the sandy ocean-facing beach also collects scallops, sand dollars, cockles, clams, and limpets.


Bay Area

Moving up to northern California, just north of San Francisco, Stinson Beach is one of the best Western beaches for shelling.

Stinson Beach

Stinson Beach (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The rocky tide pools at the lower stretch of the beach contain star fish, sea anemone, and other intertidal dwellers, while the Bolinas Lagoon at the upper offers the chance to find fossilized sand dollars.  In addition to the shells, a huge population of harbor seals calls Stinson beach home, and can be spotted from trails along the coast.

English: Bolinas Bay and Bolinas Lagoon © 2004...

English: Bolinas Bay and Bolinas Lagoon © 2004 Matthew Trump (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: north end of Bolinas Lagoon, looking ...

English: north end of Bolinas Lagoon, looking northwest from California State Route 1 near Audubon Canyon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


While Bandon, Oregon offers shells in the protected stretches along the Coquille River, the state also offers agates, fossils, and Japanese glass fishing floats pushed ashore by the Pacific currents.  Agates – a semi-precious stone – come in many different colors, ranging from clear to blue-gray to orange.  Some of the best Oregon beaches for these highly prized finds are Cannon Beach, Oceanside beach, and Beverly Beach.

Coquille River Lighthouse

Coquille River Lighthouse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Coquille River Lighthouse near Bandon...

English: Coquille River Lighthouse near Bandon, Oregon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Some of the best shelling can be found at a little-known coastal town on the US-Canada border called Point Roberts. The area’s crystal clear water reveals a plethora of starfish, sand dollars, and crabs, and the nearby Lily Point beach is an excellent place to find oysters and clams.

Good luck, and happy shelling!

Angie Picardo is a staff writer for NerdWallet, a financial literacy site that helps people understand their personal finances and achieve retirement success.


3 thoughts on “Wild, Wild West

  1. I enjoyed reading your guest blogger’s article. I’ve often wondered if shells could be found on the pacific coast due to the larger waves crashing the beaches. I’ve learned a lot by reading this.

    I especially enjoyed the paragraph on Oregon. Would love to find agates, but I am confused. Do they wash in with the tide? What’s the best way to find them. Thank your for teaching me new stuff today 🙂

  2. Pingback: Putting ‘Yeezus’ Aside: Jasiri X’s Urgent Spreadable Media by Mark Anthony Neal | NewBlackMan (in Exile) | Reason & Existenz

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