Diving for Shells


I get asked all the time about diving for shells.

“Where do you dive?”

“How deep do you go?”

“What kind of shells do you find?”

“Aren’t you worried about sharks?”

…and many many more questions.


I appreciate all the questions asked. Now, I can answer some questions but not all.

“Where do you dive?”

This one is the most asked question.  Well, I cannot divulge where I dive. Every sheller has their honey holes as does every fisherman, shrimper and hunter. Some have found these spots by trial and error or by good old fashioned hard work. I will simply say that I dive all over the island as well as places like Little Hickory, Lover’s Key and Barefoot Beach. I have given my word that I will not divulge secret spots. I know that stinks and I am sorry.


“How deep do you go?”

I have been known to go as shallow as a foot locally to as deep as 20+ feet in the Keys and the Caribbean. At about 15 feet, I can feel the pressure change. By about 20-22 feet, I’m about at my limit with a single breath. But I have seen some amazing things in deeper water.


“What kind of shells do you find?”



Like this 18″ Horse Conch and huge Heart Urchins in Islamorada – which I still have yet to clean up.

Keys HC

And this gorgeous Hawkwing Conch – same spot.



Found this haul diving the island this past weekend. There are goodies out there. You just have to get into the deep water and get them.

“Aren’t you worried about sharks?”


Sometimes, yes!

But I also play the odds and don’t go where it feels weird.

Read this article written by David McRee over at Blog The Beach. On a side note, our good friend Kim over at Snug Harbor did a great interview with him recently. Go check it out here.

One in 3 million odds.

Now I’m not gonna go shelling in some giant bait ball or near fishermen. That would be insane. I listen to my gut (and my diving friends) and pay attention to what I see and have seen in the water…

Let me also say that there are other things in the water that creep me out more than sharks……

“Isn’t the water really cold right now?”

Yes, the water is pretty daggone cold right now! I dove this past weekend with a water temp of 64 degrees. BRRRRRR. Good thing I have a wetsuit.

Unless you have one, you’re kinda on the crazy side to be getting in such cold water.

“Where is your favorite dive spot?”

Other than a couple of local spots, hands down it has to be the Caribbean (specifically The Cayman Islands and Cozumel), followed closely by the mid-Florida Keys. I’m sure the Shell Queen can confirm that. The Virgin Islands have amazing water. Grand Turk is just as beautiful. The Caribbean has the most beautiful, clear water that I have ever seen.

Diving is fun. It is also unsettling sometimes. But I think the payoff is always worth it!



9 thoughts on “Diving for Shells

  1. LOVED this post and thanks for the shout out! Very cool collection of shells there.

    And I totally understand you not divulging your dive spots. I will never divulge my fishing honey holes either for the same reasons. 🙂

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and Becky. xo

  2. I’ve enjoyed following your and the Queen’s adventures on your blog. It was interesting to learn more about your shelling techniques this week. We are currently here in Sanibel for the week from Texas (this is our 3rd visit in the past several years). We would love to find some alphabet cones. So far, they have eluded us!! We didn’t bring wet suits, so we’re limited to what we can find on the shore or with our little shelling backhoe. Without giving away your honey holes — any tips on which beaches to try for alphies? We’re grateful for any tips you can impart.

    • Head out to Blind Pass or Gulfside City and dig dig dig in the shell piles. Folks have been finding good shells in the piles the last few weeks. Also, check out the tidal pools at both Big and Little Hickory. Always goodies there!

      • Sorry. We were just on Sanibel and I have to agree with “The King” The shell piles at Gulf City were full of goodies! One of the prettiest things that shellers were finding were lavender fighting conchs. (not me 😦 ) Just beautiful! Oh, and don’t be afraid to dig in the sea squirt line….so many hidden treasures!

      • Thanks, King! We’ll give that a try. We’re going out to Big Hickory while we’re here (1st time ever), so glad to hear we might find something out there. 🙂

  3. Hi, I totally get that your secret spots have to stay secret. My question is- how far out do you go? We were just on Sanibel and I wasn’t sure where to begin diving…just walk into the water and start? or can you recommend a good starting point for a beginner? Thank you! Martha 🙂

  4. I see a lot of shells with what look like animals. Do you eat the animals in the cones, tulips and cat’s eyes ? If so what are they like??

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