8 Best Shelling Beaches in California (Hidden Treasures) 2024

Welcome to our website! In this article, we’ll explore the best shelling beaches in California. When it comes to shelling, California is the place to be! With miles of coastline and hundreds of beaches, there are plenty of opportunities for amateur beachcombers and experienced shellers alike.

Whether you’re looking to find a variety of shells or take home a few treasures, the best shelling beaches in California have something for everyone. From secluded coves to expansive shorelines, these top destinations offer wonderful opportunities for collecting stunning seashells.

Best Shelling Beaches in California

1. La Jolla Cove

If you’re a shell collector, then La Jolla Cove in California is the place to be! With sparkling turquoise waters and sandy beaches, this incredible spot is a dream come true for any beachcomber. Rich with unique shells, sea glass and fossils along the shoreline, each visit to La Jolla Cove promises something new.

The best part about collecting at La Jolla Cove? You can find all sorts of treasures from tiny snails to larger clams within just a few steps of the shoreline. As you walk along and explore the tide pools at low tide, keep an eye out for colorful abalone shells that are sure to make your day even more special.

Whether you collect for fun or plan on selling them later, there’s no better place than La Jolla Cove for finding your perfect shell!

2. Refugio State Beach

Refugio State Beach, one of the best shelling beaches in California, is a great place to search for rare shells and beach treasures. Located along the Santa Barbara coast, this beach is known for its variety of shells and gems hidden within its sand.

Shell lovers will find an abundance of stunning specimens such as moon snails, abalone, mussels and limpets. But true shell enthusiasts come here with hopes of finding something truly unique!

At Refugio State Beach you might be lucky enough to find a variety of rare sea fossils that have been preserved in the sand over time. These include scallop shells, sunray Venus clams and barnacles – all special finds that are sure to make any shell collector’s day!

3. Zmudowski State Beach

Zmudowski State Beach features miles of soft sandy shorelines, perfect for collecting shells in abundance. Plus, due to the mild climate and numerous tide pools found throughout the area, you can find all sorts of treasures here!

From colorful abalone shells to sea stars and sand dollars, Zmudowski State Beach has something for everyone. With its picturesque views of rolling waves and sprawling dunes, it’s also a great place to take in some stunning coastal scenery while you explore.

So, if you’re looking for a unique beach experience with plenty of shelling opportunities, head over to Zmudowski State Beach!

4. Carmel Beach

Are you an avid shell collector? Then you must visit Carmel Beach in California! This beach offers an abundance of seashells, making it a favorite among collectors. With its unique combination of terrain and tide conditions, the variety of shells found on these shores is unmatched.

The best time to go shelling at Carmel Beach is during low tide. You can find a plethora of beautiful shells in every color and shape imaginable. From vibrant hermit crabs to delicate snail shells, this beach has something for everyone!

You might even spot some rare finds amongst the mix! Don’t forget to bring your bucket so that you can take home all your treasures from this amazing shoreline.

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5. Pismo Beach

For those looking to explore California’s shoreline, Pismo Beach is the perfect destination! With miles of shoreline and great weather year-round, it’s no wonder why this popular beach is a favorite spot for shelling. Whether it’s searching for sand dollars or getting your hands on some rare sea shells, Pismo Beach has everything you need for a great day of shell hunting.

The best part about shelling at Pismo Beach? The variety! When the tide brings in new waves, you can find an array of shells that were previously hidden beneath the surface. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or an experienced shell hunter – the opportunities are endless here!

From easy-to-find clam shells to rare and unique specimens, any avid collector will be able to get their hands on some incredible treasures.

6. Del Monte Beach

Beautiful Del Monte Beach in Monterey, California is a hidden gem that has been off-the-beaten path for countless years. It’s the perfect place to take your family and friends on an unforgettable shelling adventure. From colorful oceanic treasures to peaceful views of the Pacific Ocean, this beach provides a truly special experience for both locals and visitors alike.

From tiny sand dollars to spectacular shells the size of your hand, Del Monte Beach offers something unique you can’t find anywhere else in California. Located near Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row, it gives you the best of both worlds with its serene shoreline and close proximity to popular attractions.

Whether you’re looking to spend time with family or take a romantic stroll along the beach, Del Monte Beach is definitely worth checking out!

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7. Stinson Beach

For visitors to Northern California, Stinson Beach is an absolute must-see. This pristine stretch of coastline has so much to offer, including some of the best shelling beaches in all of California.

The crystal blue waters and white sand beaches are a sight to behold, but it’s the abundance of shells along the shore that really makes Stinson stand out from other spots. From large abalones and beautiful scallop shells to delicate sand dollars, you’ll find a variety of different treasures waiting for you when you visit this beach.

Whether you’re looking for something special or just collecting for fun, there’s no doubt that Stinson Beach will provide an incredible shelling experience!

8. Delightful Del Mar

Del Mar, California is a paradise for those looking to bask in the sun and explore the wonders of marine life. Located just south of San Diego along the Pacific Coast, Del Mar is one of California’s best shelling beaches.

With its spectacular views, warm sunshine, and wonderful selection of unique shells, it’s no wonder why people flock here to try their luck at finding that perfect shell!

The waters surrounding the beach are full of an array of different shells including moon snails, sand dollars, clams, mussels and more. Not only can visitors indulge in some great shelling activities but also enjoy a peaceful day out on the beach with spectacular views that span across miles of pristine sandy shorelines.

Whether you’re an experienced shell collector or new to the hobby there is something for everyone here at Del Mar!

9. Crystal Cove State Beach

9. Crystal Cove State Beach

Crystal Cove State Beach is a picturesque coastal gem located in Orange County, California. It’s renowned for its pristine sandy shores, clear blue waters, and stunning natural surroundings.

The beach is divided into three areas: the Historic District, the Pelican Point area, and the Reef Point area. The Historic District features rustic beach cottages that date back to the 1920s and 1930s, giving visitors a nostalgic feel of the past.

As for sea shells, Crystal Cove State Beach can be a good spot for shell collecting, especially in the tide pools and along the shoreline. The intertidal zones offer an opportunity to discover a variety of shells and marine life, but the abundance of sea shells may vary based on factors such as tides, weather, and visitor activity.

10. Torrance Beach

10. Torrance Beach

Torrance Beach is located in the city of Torrance in Los Angeles County, California. This beach is known for its relatively quieter atmosphere compared to some of the more popular beaches in the region. It’s a local favorite for swimming, sunbathing, and beach sports.

In terms of sea shells, Torrance Beach may have some shells available for collectors, but it might not be as abundant as some other beaches. The presence of sea shells can vary from day to day due to natural factors like tides and currents.

11. Carpinteria State Beach

11. Carpinteria State Beach

Carpinteria State Beach is situated in the charming town of Carpinteria in Santa Barbara County, California. The beach boasts a mile-long stretch of soft golden sands and gentle waves, making it a great destination for both relaxation and water activities. The nearby bluffs and mountains add to the scenic beauty of the area.

When it comes to sea shells, Carpinteria State Beach can offer a decent opportunity for shell hunting. The presence of shells can depend on the beach’s location, tides, and the frequency of beachgoers. Exploring tide pools during lower tides might yield interesting shell discoveries.


In conclusion, California offers some of the best shelling beaches in the world. With magnificent views, stunning wildlife, and the opportunity to find hidden treasures, it is an experience you don’t want to miss.

Remember that the availability of sea shells can vary from day to day and from season to season due to factors such as weather, tides, and natural processes.

If you’re interested in collecting sea shells, it’s a good idea to check with local sources or visit these beaches during low tide for the best chances of finding interesting shells.

Common Beach-Combing FAQs

Are there regulations against collecting shells on beaches?

Most beaches allow the collection of shells for personal use, but it’s important to be aware of local regulations. Some protected areas, such as marine reserves or wildlife habitats, may have restrictions against collecting shells to preserve the ecosystem. Always check with local authorities or signs at the beach to ensure you’re following any rules or guidelines.

When is the best time to go beach-combing?

The best time for beach-combing is typically during low tide. During low tide, more of the beach and tide pools are exposed, giving you access to a greater variety of shells and marine life.

Additionally, early mornings can be a good time to find freshly washed-up shells before they’ve been picked over by other beachgoers.

How can I identify the shells I find?

Identifying shells can be a fun and educational part of beach-combing. You can use field guides, shell identification books, or online resources to help you identify the shells you’ve collected. Look for distinguishing features such as shape, size, color, and patterns.

Some shells might have common names, while others might require more detailed research to identify accurately. Taking clear photos of the shells and consulting experts or online communities can also be helpful in identifying unfamiliar finds.

Remember to respect the environment and marine life while beach-combing, and consider leaving living creatures where they belong and undisturbed.

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