The Best Topsail Island Shelling Guide

The Best Topsail Island Shelling Guide

The beaches of Topsail Island are full of wonderful things to do, but one of our absolute favorites is shelling! There are so many beautiful and interesting shells just waiting to be found and it's an activity that adults and children alike can enjoy. You can even walk right out the door of your oceanfront Topsail beach rental and be shelling in no time! Come along with us as we teach you everything you need to know about shelling on Topsail Island.

What Kinds of Shells Can Be Found on Topsail Island?

North Carolina is known for having an abundance of beautiful shells! Did you know that the official state shell of North Carolina is the scotch bonnet? See if you can find one of those beauties during your vacation! Below is a list of common shells found on the shores of Topsail Island.

topsail island nc | coastline realty
lightning whelk | coastline realty

Various types of whelks such as lightning (pictured) and channeled.

scallop shell | coastline realty

Scallop shell. These come in many different sizes and colors.

moon snail | coastline realty

Moon snail.

oyster shell | coastline realty

Oyster shell. If you're lucky, you may just find a whole oyster shell with a pearl inside!

scotch bonnet | coastline realty

Scotch bonnet.

conch shell | coastline realty

Conch shell. These shells are huge and if you hold it up to your ear, you can "hear" the ocean inside!

auger shell | coastline realty

Auger shell.

coquina clam shell | coastline realty

Coquina clam shell.

sand dollar | coastline realty

Sand dollar.

If you're looking for more shell facts and info, check out the NC Shell Club. Their website is loaded with all-things shells!

What Time of Day Is Best for Shelling?

You never know what you'll find any time of day, but early morning may be best for shelling before lots of people have been on the beach all day.

 Another great time to go shelling is nighttime because there's just something magical about the beach at night. Some of our most treasured finds have been found on the beach at night! It's always better if you can go shelling a day or two after a storm since the strong winds and waves stirs up the shells and sends them ashore. 

Going shelling at low tide is another great tip because you simply have more beach to explore. Check out this Topsail Island tide chart and plan accordingly.

children shelling on the beach | coastline realty

Where Are the Best Shelling Spots on the Beach?

You could find that one-of-a-kind shell anywhere on the beach, but you may have a little extra luck if you check for shells in places like tidal pools and around pier supports where things tend to puddle and collect.

topsail pier | coastline realty

What Else Can You Find?

While you're looking for shells, be on the lookout for other fascinating finds such as starfish (if you choose to collect one, make absolute sure it is no longer living- it will be hard, dry, and brittle), sea glass, driftwood, and of course- shark teeth! Check out this news-worthy shark tooth find that a couple vacationing here discovered!

What Gear Do You Need?

Not much! All you need is a bucket or bag to collect your treasures and a small shovel if you'd like to dig a little deeper, just remember to fill your holes back in. If you'd like to have a handy shell guide, check out The Shell Museum App and download it to your phone for shell identification on the go!

Don't Forget...

Don't forget to bring a few extra necessary items along like sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat, water, and snacks if you'll be shelling for a while. No need to stop the shell hunt to run back to your rental for these things!

We hope you are excited about the many wonderful shells that can be found on the beaches of Topsail Island! Haven't booked your Topsail beach rental yet? No worries! We're here to help.

The Best Topsail Island Shelling Guide


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