How to Find the Best Seashells on Topsail Island

How to Find the Best Seashells on Topsail Island | Coastline Realty Vacations

One of the most enjoyable things to do on the beach is to hunt for seashells. As we enter late Fall and early Winter, we are also entering the best time of year to find seashells! This week we have everything you need to know to find the best seashells. We also have a few helpful hints about what you need to bring to have a successful day on the beach. So grab a bucket and get ready to hit the beach for some fall Topsail Island beach-combing! 

Book your vacation home

Before you can plan your day on the beach, the first thing you need to do is book your Topsail Island beach vacation home. Of course, the good news is we can help you find the perfect vacation home! From large homes to smaller condos, we have everything you need. Give us a call today at 800-497-5463 or click the button at the bottom of the page to begin planning your trip today. 

Coastline Realty vacation rental A Castle In The Sand | Coastline Realty
leaf on the beach | Coastline Realty
seashells on the shoreline | Coastline Realty

When and where to hunt for seashells 


One might think that any time of the year is as good as another to hunt for seashells, but in reality, Fall and Winter offer collectors the best time of the year to hunt for shells. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, the crowds have thinned which reduces the number of folks looking for shells. Then there is the ocean itself. Strong Winter storms far offshore are great for bringing new and interesting finds to the beach. All of this means Fall and Winter are the perfect time to hunt for shells!

Not only are Fall and Winter great for hunting seashells, but there is also low tide. Low tide is always your best bet for finding awesome shells and sea glass. With a simple Google search you can find out when low tide is. Take advantage of all the additional exposed beach during low tide. You never know what treasures you'll find just a few yards farther offshore! 


The beach is a dynamic and ever-changing landscape. For that reason, it is important to have a plan when you head to the beach for a seashell hunt. You might think just walking along the beach will give you as good a result as any other method, but in reality, there are some places that are better than others. Since the ocean acts like a washing machine churning and mixing the shells, you'll want to be in a place to take advantage of what mother nature offers. Where you ask?

The best place to hunt for seashells is right along the water's edge. This is because the constant wave action is always churning up the seafloor. Shells are then brought to the surface and dumped onshore, creating the perfect hunting grounds for seashell lovers!

Another helpful tip is to look for sandbars and other unique characteristics. This is often easiest done at low tide. The small disruptions in the shoreline offer seashell hunters a great opportunity to find that elusive shell you've been looking for. 

small shovel on the beach | Coastline Realty
sifter full of shells on the beach | Coastline Realty
young woman applying sunscreen to her face at the beach during Winter | Coastline Realty

What you need to bring

Luckily hunting for seashells, sea glass, or just beach-combing, in general, is not only fun, but free. However, there are a few things that you can bring that will make your adventure even better. None of these items are required but definitely should be considered. Here are our top five things to bring on your next seashell hunt. 

Small Shovel

Shovels are an invaluable piece of equipment. You never know what treasures you will stumble upon, and having a small shovel can make life a lot easier. If you really want to go all out, you can purchase a long-handled shovel like those used by metal detector enthusiasts. These have small handles with small holes in the shovel allowing water and sand to fall through the bottom of the shovel while keeping your special find safe in the body of the shovel. 


A sifter is a great piece of equipment to have as well. Think of it like panning for gold. With a sifter, you can scoop up larger piles of seashells and glass. Just swirl it around and you'll find your treasures! Don't have a sifter? A cheap plastic colander is perfect for this task. 

Mesh Bag

It is easy to carry around one or two seashells, but for the serious hunter one or two shells is never enough. Grab a small bag to put your treasures in. Mesh bags work great. Don't want to spend a lot of money? Grab a laundry bag at the dollar store! They work great, are cheap, and with just a dunk in the water you can wash off most of the sand off your treasures. 

Ziploc Bags

A small sandwich sized zip-top bag is just the thing you need to hold your tiny treasures such as sharks teeth and mini shells, no need to lose your treasures. 


No matter the time of year or level of cloud cover, if you are on or near the water sunscreen is a must. Nothing ruins a nice day on the beach faster than a nasty sunburn! Not to mention, it is important to protect your skin from the suns harmful UV rays.

Now you are ready to hit the beach and begin searching for that elusive piece of sea glass you've been looking for or perhaps that shell that you've always wanted! No matter what you do or don't find, one thing is for certain a day on the beach on Topsail Island is always a great day!

Late Fall and early December is the perfect time to visit Topsail Island.  As we mentioned above, the Fall and Winter season is an ideal time of year for beach-combers and seashell hunters alike. The crowds have thinned, the temperatures are still really comfortable, and you can find a great rate on your Topsail Island vacation home. Give us a call today at 800-497-5463 and book your next seashell hunt on Topsail Island! 

Book your topsail island vacation today.

How to Find the Best Seashells on Topsail Island | Coastline Realty Vacations

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