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Collecting seashells on the beaches of Sanibel, Captiva and the world

Our Adventures Of Collecting Seashells In Thailand – Part 2

Vijitt resort Phuket Thailand

 Thailand is called The Land Of A Thousand Smiles but they could have boasted that it was The Land Of One Thousand And TWO Smiles while we were there.

Rawaii Beach Phuket Thailand

It had everything we love… beautiful beaches, palm trees, warm weather, unbelievably nice people and of course… seashells.

sea cookie krabi thailand

 With a trusty map in hand, we searched high and low on every beach to find a few goodies. Between the two of us, we found the key and unlocked the Thai treasure chest containing lots of seashell loot. Go ahead…click on the next photo to enlarge to see all the shells scattered on the beach. Cyber Shelling!

beach seashells Thailand

Trying to identify all of these shells is a bit more time consuming and tedious than I expected. But! The fun thing that we realized when we were finding most of our shells… was that we basically knew what family each shell was a part of. “Hey Clark! I just found this beautiful SUNDIAL!”. And he’d shout back… “Look at all these COWRIES!”. So now I get to show YOU!

Hey y’all! Look how beautiful these SUNDIALS are!

Indo Pacific Sundial seashells

Look at all of these different COWRIES!

indo pacific cowrie shells


Marginella seashells thailand

 So many varieties of TOP SHELLS…

indo pacific top shells thailand

 We loved finding these little LIMPETS and FALSE LIMPETS.

Thailand limpets Indo Pacific

 I love this little tiny LIMPET but in my research found that it looked more like the FALSE LIMPETS (that’s as far as I got with the research on these guys)…

tiny striped limpet thailand

 I know I’ve already showed you some of these SEA COOKIE SAND DOLLARS but they are so darn cute I think you might have to look at them on every Thailand post. I can’t get enough of them!

sea cookie sand dollars thailand

See? Already I have to show you how itty bitty this one is…

tiny sea cookie sand dollar

 The AUGERS we found are huuugah! Most of them are around 3-4 inches long.

thailand auger shells

 These are some of the CONCH shells we found… well I assume they are all in the CONCH family but I could be wrong. There are just so many different species! I’ll try to identify them later. Cuties, right?

andaman sea conch shells

 Clark is dieing for me to show you his 2 major finds but I still haven’t gotten good photographs of them yet so that will be my next post. I promise, Clark! Next post!  ;)  … จนกว่าจะแล้ว (Until then)

top shell thailand

cowries thai

thailand auger shell

marginella thailand

thailand beach


  1. Wow – no words to even say

  2. Oh forgot to mention one of my favorites is sundials which we find here on SPI.
    They are gorgeous

  3. Overwhelming! I would have had to buy a separate suitcase to bring them all home! If you would like, send me one of your sea cookies and I’ll make it into a pendant for you!

    • Awww. Anna thats so sweet!

  4. Sweet, love those shells :) Nice conches btw! :)

  5. we where there a couple years ago…but I don’t know shelling at that time :(((
    I learn this passion on Sanibel

    • Hi Printemps “M”! Well if you go back to Thailand, now you will know that this passion will make your trip even better!!!

  6. Ok, that’s it. I’m convinced. I’m going to Thailand. Looks like you had a great time, Pam! Awesome booty.

  7. Pam, how did you get the shells home? Carry on, luggage or shipped? Just curious about getting them through customs.

    • Bird, we only travel with carry on. Once the airlines lost my luggage I swore I would never check another bag so we had to be very selective on what we brought home. We couldn’t keep everything we wanted to (it was just too much!) and we wanted to be respectful of their beaches as well so we only took a small amount from each beach we combed. We sorted shells after every beach day and put back the shells that didn’t make each days cut.

      It’s okay to collect beach shells there and to take them home with you in your luggage so customs was not a problem at all. We’re very light packers so they fit wrapped up in our tshirts, shoes and containers. I should do a post on this, huh?

      • I have had shells taken out of my checked suitcase. I now only carry my best shells when I travel also in my carry ons.

      • Yes Pam, if you wouldn’t mind, tell us what you pack and what kind of rolling bag you prefer, and how you wrap your shells!

      • Unfortunately, I came home with a lot of broken urchins and tulips that were wrapped in t-shirts from Sanibel. I didn’t take many shells and most of what I came home with broken. That trip we flew and have decided next time we’ll drive 2 days to Sanibel. If you could share how to pack shells for luggage, that would be AWESOME! Thanks Pam.

        • Donna, what Susan H writes below is good advice. When I am flying, I use heavy styrofoam boxes (cubes about 16 inches per side), two to a duffle bag. I wrap the shells in toilet paper and/or ziplock bags and/or bubble wrap and place them inside the styrofoam boxes, making sure that they cannot move around. I have done this for many years and have had virtually no breakage. For something like a sea urchin test, I would wrap it in toilet paper, place it in a plastic food tub and then place the tub in the styrofoam container or in my carry-on luggage. As necessary, tape shut the plastic food tub so it does not open in transit. Hope this is helpful.

          • I wrapped my sea urchins in paper towels individually then “rolled” like a sausage in aluminum foil. Next I cut the tops off two water bottles, slit one down the side. My foil urchin sausage went into the solid one, slit over the top– ended up looking like a tennis ball canister but inexpensive and with materials readily available at our condo. I was a bit worried security might think it was a suspicious package but it went through my checked luggage without any problems or breakage.

      • We were in Thailand at the end of June and totally did not see the little cookies. We also only brought some very select ones such as you have in your photos. You can not bring back any coral at all even any dead pieces ( what else is there?) anyway our daughter did manage to bring home one piece. I packed my shells in a Pringles can and we didn’t have any problems I brought a sea urchin home in my carry on and it survived. I love your blog as I only just discovered it in May. I am so excited, as we are coming to your island at the end of January or beginning of Feb 2014. Signed Nancy ps if you collect shells you should be collecting beach rocks or pebbles as well, they are beautiful. Thanks for helping to I’d my shells from Thailand!

    • Hi there, just as a gentle suggestion, for my first trip to Sanibel, I brought a compartment box, it protected my shells perfectly and it is light to pack..i put a link here ONLY as an example Hope this helps out a fellow sheller!!

    • Just a note: I always openly declare my stuff as “dead empty seashells” when I take them through customs, and I have never had any trouble. However, coral pieces (both hard corals and soft corals such as sea whips and sea fans) are not allowed to be brought into the USA from other countries, because of the CITES international agreement on Endangered Species. People who go on trips to Caribbean countries should know that the pink conch is protected by CITES, and therefore is illegal to bring back.

      • Oh, and I also wanted to say that I pack most of my shells in a very strong fabric-covered cardboard box which goes in my checked bag surrounded by clothes on the inside and on the outside, but the most interesting, the rarest, and the most fragile shells I take in my carry-on, packed first in tiny ziplocks and then in those small plastic food tubs.

        • Thanks for the info, Susan, on CITES. Is the ban on the pink conch new? I bought one back from Bermuda just over a year ago– I didn’t find it but bought it dock side from a peddler, many were being offered, I assumed these were a byproduct of their conch cuisine.

          Also I’ve had great success transporting shells in ziplock baggies tucked into plastic containers like those in which strawberries are sold. I pack a couple small squares of bubble wrap for fragile shells, takes very little space in the suitcase but provides good protection.

          • The pink conch shell/queen conch shell CITES ban has been in effect since 1992. However the shell is still sold widely to tourists in the Bahamas and the Caribbean. As you say, LInda, almost all of the shells for sale are ones that were fished locally and the meat eaten, so in reality selling the shells is not damaging the live population any more than the local fishermen are.

            The CITES agreement is really designed to protect endangered and potentially endangered live animals from being collected and their parts sold wholesale to traders in the US. CITES applies to elephant ivory, turtles, leopards, various reptiles and numerous other species, not just the pink conch.

            IN the past, vast numbers of pink conch used to be sold as part of the shell trade and souvenir trade, and there was also mass trading internationally in conch meat. However the CITES ban does also apply to ordinary vacationers who are bring just one fished pink conch shell back to the USA.

            Linda, you got in with the shell OK because you did not declare it and they did not happen to search your luggage. But they would have confiscated it if they found out you had it.

            The same thing is true with coral. The law is meant to prevent the mass trading of coral and soft coral internationally, but it ends up applying also to beachcombers who just want to take a few pieces of dead coral home from a trip outside the USA.

            It’s kind of a shame that there can’t be an exception for people who only have a little bit of something that was dead already when they found it, but I guess that would make the rules hard to enforce.

          • Susan H, thank you for all of this info. I completely understand why they made these laws. We have to protect our resources that are over “fished” for trade.

          • Thanks for the information, Susan! I had no idea about the ban– I’d guess that most tourists don’t. And I’m not much of an international traveler. But I will remember your advice to declare my “dead empty seashells” at customs in the future. I did report my shells to the agricultural inspector when we left Hawaii, they were more interested in berries and citrus fruit.

  8. Unbelievable !

  9. It’s like the Disneyland of seashells. What an adventure to remember.

  10. Beautiful shells! I love your scenery pictures too, they look like postcards. Thank you for taking the time to share.

  11. Just WOW!! Thanks for sharing, Pam! So glad you had a great time!!

  12. Amazing! What is the name of the beach or area that you took the photo of above with all the shells everywhere. We are going to Thailand and Camodia soon and would love any shelling location information you could give us! :)

    • Andrea, You must go to Krabi then if you will be in Thailand. Every beach we went to there had shells including the beach at our hotel. I will post what we found at each location after i get through some of these photos- its overwhelming!

      • From Krabi we took a ferry to Phi Phi Island and the shells there were amazing. I even had the locals running around the beach collecting shells and bringing them to me.

        • Wow! I have been all over the world in search of shells, can’t wait to go to Thailand. We were supposed to go two years ago, but there was civil unrest that summer and had to change our plans. We went to Cambodia and Vietnam instead. My sister lives in Hong Kong – so always up for a trip to Asia!

      • Thank you so much – looking forward to any information you can provide! You do an amazing job on your website :)

  13. Can you see me?…I’m smiling! Thank you so much for your posting. Loved it. Especially the little Sea Cookie Sand Dollars. I use those a lot in my greeting cards. They’re just the cutest things. I can’t imagine finding one on the beach….glad you did.

  14. Beautiful pictures. You found some nice shells.

  15. That cowry looked huge. Love the shell & beach photos. We’re all thinking the same thing, what did you have to leave in Thailand in order to get them in your luggage or did you go with an empty bag?

    • I did take an empty extra backpack to have for our water and stuff for days on the beach. That helped for our room on the way home for the shells. But really, most of these are small so they didn’t take up that much room.

  16. Oh my lands!!!!!! (((faints)))

    • Too funny Alicia!!

      But when I clicked on the cyber shelling photo and enlarged it I nearly fainted myself!!

      Absolutely Stunning as usual Pam – it looks like a marvelous place to visit – I may have to start a bucket list.

      • I’m tickled y’all enjoyed the cyber shelling photo! I thought of all y’all when I took that pic hoping it would show you how many different shells were in that one area. Crazy!

  17. Holy. Cow. Those are amazing!! The cyber shelling photo is insane! I’m definitely going to have to add Thailand to my ‘must do’ list.

  18. All I can say is wow! The sand dollars look so much thicker than the ones found in the states. Save us some shells we’ll be down on Wednesday. We can’t wait to wear all our new tees & hat!

  19. Amazing – I will have to put Thailand on my Bucket list! Thank you for sharing!

  20. Oh great. Now I want to go to Thailand! Like living this close to Sanibel isn’t good enough! UGH!

    Beautiful shells and photos, Pam! The chamber of commerce or travel agencies should have you on the payroll.

    • LOL Fran! You took the words right out of my mouth! Not about living near Sanibel though – I wish!

  21. the “augur shells” are turret shells, or Turritellas in the latin.

    yes, that is a false limpet.

    • Hey Thanks Steve!

  22. Ha… Steve beat me to it! Hi Steve!

    Yes he’s right of course, the “augers” are a Turritella species and that is indeed a false limpet, a Siphonaria limpet.

    It’s true that the cyber shelling shot is really amazing! Actually all the shots are amazing, you should have heard me going: Wow! Wow! Wow! as I looked at them.

    Thanks for thinking of us all when you were on vacation so you could share all this with us! You are very kind Pam!

  23. And I think those “top shells” are probably all, or nearly all, turbans.

    • Hi Susan! Well that’s the shot that I forgot to turn one or two shells in different angles to show the aperture and side views- my bad. So it’s hard to tell as much but I’m almost positive that they are top shells. Take a look at the link MurexKen added- it looks like a match.

  24. I am totally mesmerized by your finds…really spectacular, Pam. I would have been beside myself on those beaches, really. Thank you so very much for sharing so freely of your wonderful trip. There are some of us who will never get to Thailand and this way we get to live vicariously through you who do! So beautiful. Happy Memorial Day to you and Clark and all our shelling buddies!

  25. Wow, nice shells :-)

  26. I could be wrong, but I think that most of the Top Shells are the Maculated/Mottled Top Shell, Hope this is helpful

    • Very helpful. OMG that one in the link has the pink tip like the one on my finger. You think it’s a juvie? I assumed it was a mature mini shell. See? there are so many different types, it will take me/us months to identify them all.

      • Pam, that “pink tip: is not due to the mollusk, but rather due to a small area of coralline algae, , which is fairly common on shells from the tropical Western Pacific and Indian Oceans. It should come off, if you scrap it with a dental tool. If you like the way it looks, just leave it on the shell. However, it tends to cover/obscure the surfaces of shells and usually is just a nuisance.

      • Oh yes, I think MurexKen is right! I don’t know the Indo-Pacific stuff really at all, but I am prepared to learn!

  27. What a fabulous trip Pam! Thanks for sharing! What’s the food like over there? (always an important part of MY vacations…)

  28. What a trip and what treasures you found. Thank you for sharing.

  29. Such beautiful shells and they are so colorful. Yes, do a post on your super packing techniques for carry on luggage!

  30. We are all so incredibly blessed for your sharing Pam. I second and third a lot of what your other friend/fans are saying. Thanks to you and Clark I may know more than just our FL shells at tomorrows, suncoast conchologists jamboree. Have a wonderful weekend.

  31. Amazing! I dont think I have ever been so jealous in my life! I know which shell Clark wants you to show off because it was in one of your “wheres Pam photos”, and it was actually the one that gave your vacation spot away. Cant wait to see pics of it.

  32. OMG……..these shells are absolutely amazing and Thailand is one of the most beautiful places in the world. I am sooooo jealous :) Glad you and Clark had a wonderful time!

  33. That was so fun…. looking at the real beach and the real shells in Thailand.
    Great idea to let us go shell searching ourselves. Thanks!! And thank you for the heads up on the Blind Pass dredging in August. That was a close call for me (reservation-wise, just in time). Everyone should be advised of this when calling in to make a reservation, especially those close to BP (unfriendly initials from LAST summer). That would only be the fair and just thing to do.

    • Hi Pam,
      Since, Sandra mentioned the dredging, I read on line that dredging work is starting this week but that the parking lots on either side of Blind Pass will still be open. What happens in August? How long do they expect it to take? Who do we call? I’m trying to decide if and when to book a trip this summer or fall. Sorry, I don’t mean to be a pain, I know it’s not your fault, but there is virtually no information out on this.

  34. All I can say is WOW!

  35. Looks like a great time, putting that on my bucket list. Have you ever gone on the shelling trips with the museum?

  36. Is it OK to be on Sanibel and still salivate over OTHER shells???? We head back to TN tomorrow after 2 wks of HARD work on our new little home….but we’ll be back! Hope to shell low tide today (2nd time in 2 wks….that’s just wrong….) – But Pam, how beautiful are these pictures – what an incredible time you must have had. Looking forward to Clark’s TWO… Johnnie

  37. Great shelling! wonderful trip. Thailand is definitely now on my bucket list. Did you have any trouble bringing your loot back through customs? Did you hand-carry or pack in your luggage?

  38. I did not see any live shells? Were all of your finds “deceased”?

    • Most of our finds were on the beach and Clark snorkeled a lot but even then didn’t see many live shells so close to the beach…but we did not take live shells in any case. All were empty shells.

  39. Good for you!!!! The shells a wonderful..,thank you so much…just recently move from FL ( Hollywood) to MA and going thru a little shell withdrawal…I needed that!! Love your blog!!!

  40. I should have mentioned in my previous post that these shells are beautiful and the virtual shelling is a blast. Thank you for sharing! Pls. forgive my punctuation errors above.

  41. Pam,

    That is truly spectacular. I am also planning a SE Asia trip for next Feb, but trying to fit Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand in one trip is proving difficulty. Seeing your photos convinced me I should do Thailand as a stand-alone and save the other two for 2014.

    We are in Sanibel right now and unfortunately, not finding much but still having a blast. As I type this a storm is heading our way and the temp just cooled down by about 7 degrees. Lets hope the shell gods smile on us after the storm….:-)

  42. I think we saw the same manatees earllier in the day closer to the lighthouse and closer on the beach! There were 11 males and 1 female and so close to the beach! Amazing to see!

  43. Pam, I really have no words that haven’t already been said about your trip, your photos and your kindness and consideration in taking time to share all of this with us. I am in awe! It is all so fantastic and I am so happy for you and Clark. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. <3

  44. some of the conchs look like they could be volutes. I want to go there!

  45. So many shells, so little time. They are fantastic. I want to go!

  46. That beach with all the shells about made me pass out! WOW! Looks like a great trip!

  47. Wow! I thoroughly enjoyed looking through your posts. I don’t do much with shells these days, but have always loved them! Anytime I get near a beach, I love looking for shells …as did my mother, and my daughters do also :-) I’m wondering if you would be willing to share the name of the beach in this post with all of the shells? We are going to Phuket in 3 weeks and I would LOVE to see this! I currently live in China, so unfortunately couldn’t save anything with having to go through China and eventually USA customs! But, it would be such a treat which could be documented with photos :-)
    Thanks, Linda

  48. Omg they a amazing!!! Wish is as there

  49. I have a question about those sea cookies. Are they only found in that region?

  50. Hi Pam!
    I live in Hawaii and dive for shells here and I am a shell lover! I am planning a once in a lifetime trip to either Thailand or Indonesia and was wondering which would be the best to find large shells and cones? I would greatly appreciate any traveling tips you may have and also I was wondering what the name of that beach in Thailand that you had a picture with shells covering the sandy shoreline and said cyber shelling lol :) Well, I know you’re awfully busy, but I hope to hear from you soon :)

    • Hi Kami, oh gosh, I haven’t been to Indonesia song don’t know which would be better. But if you
      Choose Thailand, we had great shelling in Phuket but even better in Krabi. I don’t remember the name of that beach but I’ll try to look it up and get back to you. We really loved visiting Thailand- the beaches, rhe food, the people, and just the way they live their lives. Loved everything about it. And of course the shells! They have lots of the same shells you have in Hawaii. I’d love to come to your island one day too to find those beautiful shells. If I find that beach, I’ll write back here. I wish I had more info on Indonesia. It’s on my list too. :)

    • Ok I found it…. It was called Ao Nang in Krabi. When we were on that beach, it was loaded with shells. Seriously, we were overwhelmed. There was plenty of parking for that beach and we headed to the right from the parking lot. I told that to another sheller, Joash, because he was going there. He didn’t have the luck we did so of course it’s just like out beaches in Sanibel… Every tide and every day brings a different gift. We spent 5 days in Phuket and 4 days in Krabi (hired a driver to take us from Phuket to Krabi). I’d say we found more of the larger shells and more cones in Krabi. Hope this helps!!!! And please let me know what u decide?

  51. Hi Pam! Thank you so so much for getting back to me!! I really appreciate it! Ok, we chose Thailand for our trip. We are planning to visit Phuket, how long and how much did it cost to drive from Phuket to Krabi? I looked at Ao Nang on google map and it looks like a really long stretch of beach! :) Do you happen to know maybe which resort the spot you went to is near? I was thinking of phiphi island too, but I’m still trying to research to find out if it’s worth heading over there too…

  52. Hi there, Thank You so much for your knowledge and enthusiasm you share with us all, I love watching your videos.
    I have always loved shells, I am not a collector as in keeping hoards of shells and listing them.
    I am in Thailand at the moment at would love to know if there was a specific beach on Krabi island that you’d recommend? I am staying in Phuket and would have to do a day trip.
    Thanks so much
    Gail Macaulay from South Africa

  53. OH MY! Look at these. Really beautiful. I want to go Thailand :) Which beach is it?

  54. Hi,

    compliments for your blog, i can relate to what you show and say because here in the island where im living (in the Philippines) i find the same type of shells you show and also the big ones (tridacna squamosa)

    this is a post i did on reefphilippines website about the problems of very harsh legislations nowadays, extremely dxaggerated on paper without making distinction (on paper) between beachcombers and coral poachers, a real shame

    post i did


    Hi everyone,

    I’m a foreigner living in the Philippines and I’m a amazed at the pieces & the beauty of dead corals & small and big shells that i find in the island where i am living. corals of all kinds , of all sizes brought by the sea directly to shore. I never broke any living coral and will never do it of course. I’m aware of a very “harsh” legislation with republic act 10654 from 2015 amending the fisheries code 8550 from 1998 that increases significantly penalties in the millions of pesos and even imprisonment. i think its a bit exaggerated for just a few pieces. maybe the law wants to punish big coral poachers and cyanide fishing etc but i haven’t found any refernce to any distinction in the law. somewhere i had found that if the gathering or possession was less than 10 kg then the lower penalties of the old 8550 would apply (2.000 to 20.000 pesos) but im not sure about it. also big shells are supposed to be illegal but here everybody has them in their houses, sells them and even eats their meat on a regular basis. even the municipality where i live decorates the square with tridacna squamosa lol. big SM malls sell coral necklaces and big shells and even at airports in manila there are coral shops. so much hypocrisy in my opinion. so much confusion between local laws , customs restrictions, CITES international regulations etc. are we all criminals just because we pick something on the beach or we buy something at the mall? will we be fined millions of pesos and put in prison if we try to bring out of the country a few pieces of dead corals taken from the beach? also all the activities in this forum according to philippine law should be considered illegal as all corals are prohibited, no possession is allowed, except for scientific reasons. i don’t agree with this of course but i’m against indiscriminate coral poaching of course.
    let the discussion start if you wish
    Maraming Salamat!

  55. Hi! I’m visiting Thailand this March and loooove shells. Do you have any recommendations on can’t-miss beaches that I should add to my itinerary for cowries, sundials, sea cookies and the tuns?

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