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Shelling is so much fun and Captiva Island has such a variety of shells to find, just to collect and admire or use in a craft, on a mirror, lamps, boxes etc. Captiva is one of the islands that is literarily made up of shells, created over thousands of years, and is one of the islands that is considered best in the world for shelling. The islands geography of lying east and west rather than north and south, as most islands, allows Captiva and its sister islands to catch abundant sea shells from the Gulf of Mexico.

Some Tips

  1. Bring bucket, net bag and scoop, sun lotion and hat.
  2. Shell at low tide preferably and after a storm.
  3. It is illegal to take "live shells." Please return to water.

How to clean shells

Soak shells in a 50/50 solution of water and bleach, few hours or overnight. If any barnacles or other matter is left remove with a pick or toothbrush. To make shells shine wipe with mineral oil or baby oil.

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Sand dollars

You may collect sand dollars but first check to make sure that the sand dollar is not alive - turn it over - there are little centipede feet up and down the backside - gently touch them with your finger to see if they move, if they do it's alive and you should gently place it back into the water. If they do not move, then you have just found one of Captivas' treasures! To bleach a sand dollar white it is important to soak in fresh water first. Water will be a brownish color, change water frequently until fairly clear or just continually flush with water until water stays fairly clear. Soak in a 50/50 solution of bleach and water for 5-10 minutes. Caution: Do not soak too long in bleach solution as sand dollar may crumble. Rinse throughly, let dry preferably in sun to bleach further. To harden sand dollar for crafts or display: Mix equal portions of white glue and water. With paint brush cover sand dollar with mixture. Let dry.


Beaches on Captiva Island

Captiva Island has tropical white sand beaches and caribbean blue water and an extravagant collection of sea shells.

Just a few rules:

  1. No open fires.
  2. No collecting of live shells. Return them to the water.
  3. A fee of $4 per hour for parking at both Sanibel Island and Captiva Island public beaches. Both cash and credit cards are accepted. Paid parking tickets are not interchangeable between Sanibel Island and Captiva Island.