Wheter you are an avid conchologist, an amatuer collector, a "holiday beachcomber" or simply an admirer of natural beauty, you may be wondering where the best places are to find shells. If you are visiting South Africa - or even if you are a local - and need to know where to go to do some proper shell collecting, then this resource could prove useful.
In this section we present the most prominent areas along the South African coastline where you can go to find seahells.
In order to simplify the process, the coastline has been split up into eight contiguous regions. To navigate to a more detailed section of the coastline, click on a number next to it on the map above, or [for mobile use] click on any of the links below corresponding to the colour of the coastline above.
* Information presented is for marine shells only, and only covers shallow-water collecting, i.e. places where shells can be found in rock pools, on beaches, or at snorkeling depth. Data is not provided for locations requiring SCUBA, dredging or any other form of deep water collecting.
Please note that, even though this is a great resource, nature is unpredictable and we cannot guarantee that you will find shells at all times when visiting any of the areas denoted in the detailed sections. In fact, collectors have at times found no shells at some of these locations - it all depends what the tides have produced, and it might require frequent revisits to a locale to deliver expected results.
However, visiting these places will give you the best shot at finding shells, so get out there and enjoy the hunt!
Note that the delineation presented here is not necessarily coherent with official national, regional or municipal borders, regions or state nomenclature - nor is it intedended to be. It has been selected and named in accordance with historic conchological provenance and associated nomenclature found on most age-old shell data labels. Sticking to this nomenclature for the regions denoted will make it easier for persons with historic collections to create a positive link to the areas within which the shells have been found.
As a collecting Society we encourage adherence to local laws and encourage all collectors to find out what is required regarding permits, bag sizes and other limits before simply venturing into the ocean and taking live specimens. We never encourage over-collecting and, instead, request persons to consider the environment and leave sufficient living animals to guarantee sustainment of our molluscan heritage. The South African Post Office sells permits regulating the collection of marine species, and each permit indicates the limits associated with the species being collected.
The following is provided to help guarantee personal safety duing shelling expeditions:
Many of the locations noted herein are remote. It would be wise to explore such locations in groups - never do this alone for your own safety. Try to travel with at least one additional shelling partner.
Be aware of tides - always study the daily tide tables to determine when high tides are, and, if possble, where riptides have formed.
Carry a small can of mace with you (just in case), and be sure to carry enough water and protect your skin against sunburn.
Wear a wetsuit or second skin in colder water areas (e.g. West Coast and Garden Route). Water temperatures in these areas can drop to 15 degrees C, making your shelling experience uncomfortable if unprepared.
Leave all unneccessary valuables at home or at your place of accommodation.
Take note of where you choose to park your vehicle - preferably in a busy area (if possible).
Keep your cell phone on your person in a water-tight enclosure - do not leave it in a bag on the beach or in your car.