Best Places to Go Shelling & Shell Décor Ideas

There’s no souvenir better than taking a piece of the beach home with you. In particular: shells, otherwise known as the jewels of the sea. With their many colors and shapes, they’re a unique trinket that can be taken to remember your Crystal Coast vacation.

Shelling is a simple activity that the whole family can participate in and it makes for some exciting sightseeing. There are many places on the Crystal Coast where you can collect the shells; where to find the best ones exactly is another question:

  • Hammocks Beach State Park

Near Emerald Isle is Hammocks Beach State Park, a beautiful area with wide spreads of uninhabited beach and plenty of space to walk and shell for a good while. Take a short ferry ride to Hammocks Beach – a hotspot for shelling.

  • Shackleford Banks

Its own barrier island for the Crystal Coast, Shackleford Banks is located near Atlantic Beach and Beaufort. Known for being mainly secluded, this island is also home to the wild horses of Shackleford Banks. The island has many different types of shells, and plenty of beaches for you to explore.

  • Cape Lookout

Home to the Cape Lookout Lighthouse, this is another hotspot for shelling along the Crystal Coast. Near Harker’s Island, like Shackleford Banks, you will have to get here by boat or ferry, but the trek is worth the reward.  After a big storm Scotch Bonnet shells can be found in abundance along the shores.

Like always, safety should always be practiced when shelling. Some shells have sharp edges and points and can pierce through thin shoes and sandals. Wearing tennis shoes or thicker sandals is recommended to protect your feet from injury.

When you’re done collecting your shells, it is important to wash them, at least with warm water and mild soap. Storing shells so they don’t break can be as simple as wrapping them in newspaper.

Shell Ornaments

What better way to celebrate the holidays then with a personalized shell ornament? Start by purchasing clear glass (or plastic) ornaments that have a removable top. Then you’ll want to gently remove the top and fill with some sand from Emerald Isle as well as a few shells. It’s kind of like taking the beach with you. Bonus Points: Plan in advance to make a few of these as personal holiday gifts.

Painting Shells

While some shells are beautiful and can stand alone with their natural artwork, let’s be honest, some could use a touch up. One simple craft idea can turn those not so beautiful shells into stylish home accents by spray-painting the shells in metallic colors (gold, silver, bronze, rust) to display in a jar or shadowbox. This craft looks expensive, but in reality is cost effective. Bonus Points: Paint shells in different metallic shells to contrast while they’re on display.

Jars of Shells

One of the easiest crafts you can do with shells is to create a “memory jar”. Start by collecting some dry sand from your favorite beach, along with some shells. Fill the bottom inch of the jar with your sand, then gently place your shells on top of the sand and inside the sand, your vacation jar is complete. Bonus Points: Include a favorite beach family photo.

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