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What beaches are best for seashells in Myrtle Beach SC area? Here’s where you should look


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Best beaches for shells
Not unlike fishermen, shellers are sometimes reluctant to share their spots. However, with more than 60 miles of beaches along the Grand Strand, there’s no shortage of places to go to find seashells. But let’s be honest, some places are better than others.

  • Huntington Beach State Park. This oceanfront park in Murrells Inlet is a great spot for finding shells, including whelks, lettered olives and moon snails. You can also find sand dollars and a number of shark’s teeth here. Depending on which way you go might determine how many you find. Walking to the jetty, which is usually less crowded than what can be considered the main entrance of the beach, offers opportunities to find better shells, as well as more of them as you get closer to the jetty. But whichever direction you go, chances are great that you will find something.
  • Myrtle Beach State Park. Another great place to find shells. Again, those who shell may have a different opinion on where to go, but near the pier or left of the pier seems to produce better shelling.
  • Apache Fishing Pier. White suggests shelling at this Horry County beach, which is in the Arcadian Shores area. White has found “amazing shells there,” including a number of nutmegs, which are hard to find in the area.
  • Myrtle Beach. Most of what you find on beaches in the city limits are cockle shells, but that’s not all you can find. There also are augers, moon snails and conch shells available for the picking. Near the piers tend to offer better shelling. In addition, choosing a beach that is further away from the touristy part of the city will be less crowded and more opportunities to get better shells.
  • Cherry Grove Point in North Myrtle Beach. While many of the city’s beaches are great for shelling, this section of beach tends to provide opportunities for better shells. And if you can plan to be there during low tide, you will be greeted with several tidal pools and a wide swath of exposed beach in which to search.
  • Pawleys Island. Not too far from Murrells Inlet, this low-key spot is a popular spot for shellers. It’s also known for the Pawleys shell (a Venus clam shell), which local legend says can only be found on the island.
  • Litchfield Beach. Near Pawleys Island, this beach also offers a quiet spot for shellers. White said the shells are great at Litchfield because it was dredged nearly two years ago. For those looking to find good shells, White suggests going to places after they have been dredged. “That’s always the best,” White said. After dredging, the beach can continue to produce good shells anywhere from six months to two years, she said.
  • Holden Beach. While this beach is across the state line in North Carolina, it’s only about an hour from North Myrtle Beach and is a spot for one of the coveted sea biscuits. Sea biscuits found in the Carolinas are fossils of extinct echinoderms. They no longer grow in the Carolinas.

Tips for finding shells
There are a few things that might help your shelling experience.

  • Go early. The earlier you go to the beach, the better chance you will have of getting the best shells before the beach gets too crowded.
  • Watch the tides. Check tide charts for the Myrtle Beach area. Usually, the best shell hunting is just before and after low tide. However, you never really know what time a good shell will turn up.
  • Don’t forget the wrack line. That’s the high-tide mark where ocean debris, including shells, are left behind. The wrack line is a great place to search for both shells and shark’s teeth. This is where White looks for shells, especially mini shells. “That’s where I always find the good shells,” White said.
  • Shell up a storm. Storms and rough seas can actually bring more shells onto the beach. While it’s not advisable to shell during thunderstorms or dangerous conditions, if you can head to the beach after a storm, you may find some great shells.
  • Cold weather shelling. Summer is obviously the peak season for people to come to the Myrtle Beach area, which means more people on the beach shelling. However, during the off season, when the temps are colder, the lack of crowds and turbulent waters can make your trip to the beach worthwhile. “Shelling in the summer time is not that great,” White said. “I very rarely shell in the summer time. The best shelling is in the winter.” For White, that means from November through April.
  • Leave them if their live. If you do find a shell and it’s occupied, leave it. It is illegal in South Carolina to take a live sand dollar from the beach.
  • Bring something to carry all those shells. While you can always invest in a mesh bag to hold your beach finds, making sure you at least have something to carry home your shells is a good plan. White makes sure she brings a strong bag, such as a backpack, and she carries a scooper to avoid having to bend over so much.

Here’s what you can find
Here are some of the more common shells found on Myrtle Beach area beaches.

  • Lettered olive, which is the state’s official seashell
  • Augers
  • Banded tulip
  • Florida Horse Conch
  • Whelks, including lightening and knob
  • Slipper snails
  • Moon snails
  • Keyhole limpit
  • Oysters
  • Venus clams
  • Calico scallops
  • Cockle shells
  • Quahogs
  • Coquina clams
  • Baby’s ear