I’m still in awe of the beautiful beaches and treasures we saw on the Japanese island of Okinawa.
We found soooo many amazing shells we felt like we had to share it with someone. Days before we left Sanibel for our shelling vacation to Okinawa, I saw a fantastic photo of shells with hashtag iLoveShelling (#iLoveShelling) while I was on Instagram (follow me on Instagram iLoveShelling) . That photo had another hashtag on it too… #Okinawa. Whoa. I sent a note to the girl who posted it and we hit it off right away. Before you know it, we were shelling together in Okinawa! Timing is everything, right?
Clarissa (from New Hampshire) is a 20 year old United States Marine stationed in Okinawa for 2 years who loves beach combing. She tries to get to the beaches as often as possible but transportation isn’t always easy from the bases so we picked her up to hit the beaches to look for shells with us.
We found shells! It was such a special day to hang out and find a few treasures to remember this amazing adventure while in Okinawa. Good luck, Clarissa, with your future service plans and your travel plans… and thank you.
Now that we are back on Sanibel Island, we have been trying to organize the loot we brought home. It’s abshellutely mind blowing how many different shell species we brought back so we’ve been trying to break them down in to some sort of organized chaos to identify each one. This might take a while so I figured I’d show y’all what we’ve done so far… but let me apologize for the photos… they’re aren’t great but it shows you how we are trying to sort.
This is the first tray of CONES. OMG We have LEOPARD CONES, LETTERED CONES, IVORY CONES, WESTERN IMPERIAL CONES, FLEA-BITE CONES, VIRGIN CONES, OAK CONES, SOLDIER CONES and LITHOGRAPH CONES.
And that’s not it…. MARBLE CONES, STRIATE CONES, TULIP CONES, NUSSETELLA CONES, TENDER CONES, TESSELATE CONES, SAND-DUSTED CONES and lots of TEXTILE CONES.
I could go on … but I’m overwhelmed by even more CONES…
Because then… there’s the CONCHS. SPIDER CONCHS, STRAWBERRY CONCHS, a BUBBLE CONCH and lots of LITTLE BEAR CONCHS.
Look at all of these amazing shells!
And even more… ABALONE, LIMPETS, TOPS and TROCHUS.
MOON SHELLS, OLIVE SHELLS and all sort of wonderful minis. Some look like lemon drops and kernels of corn- I’m in love.
And…. Holy COWRIE! Look at these COWRIES. OMG The colors.
And then… the BIVALVES. They are to die for.
Whew. So those were the shells that we collected and brought home with us. Aaaa-mazing. We actually collected more than double that but brought home only the best. We gave away 10 gallons of shells that we couldn’t bring home. Yes we did. We bought two 5 gallon buckets at the grocery store while we were there so we could clean our shells every day. Once we decided which shells we were going to leave in Okinawa, the buckets came in handy.
We gave some to the very friendly folks at our wonderful hotel (we actually LOVED our hotel AJ Kouki) but we gave the bulk of them to Manahu Higa, the owner of our favorite restaurant Island Marine Cafe & Bar. His whole restaurant was decorated in local shell art and crafts that his wife and daughter made. We loved it!
See why we loved it? Every inch was decorated in shells. We knew they all went to to good home.
And I still have more to show you… did you see all of that SEA GLASS in that one photo? The SEA GLASS will be coming up soon- it is sooooo beautiful.
To see all of my posts on Okinawa ...
Our Exshellent Beach Combing Adventure to Okinawa Japan– http://www.iloveshelling.com/blog/2015/06/19/our-exshellent-beach-combing-adventure-in-okinawa-japan/
Sea Glass Beach Finds While Beach Combing Okinawa– http://www.iloveshelling.com/blog/2015/07/06/sea-glass-beach-finds-while-beach-combing-okinawa/
Gone Extreme Shelling- Across the World– http://www.iloveshelling.com/blog/2015/06/15/gone-extreme-shelling-across-the-world/
How exciting to find all of these beauties! I am just now organizing shells collected in SW Florida in the early 2000s. Looking forward to doing some travel for shelling. Love the cowries and cones. Thank you for sharing.
Great experience. We spent six years in Okinawa and collected hundreds of Indio Pacific shells now in Mt pleasant SC
RALPH STONEY BATES
Pam, I have no words!! Is it possible that I would add Okinawa to my shelling bucket list? This is the most incredible thing I have ever seen. Spectacular doesn’t do it justice!! I wonder if you have been able to sleep since. OMG!! The trip of a lifetime for iloveshelling.com. :)) Congrats to you and Clark.
Omg! Shellzam!! The bivalves are gorgeous! Well, everything is really. Good Lord woman, you must have as many shells as the Sanibel Shell Museum. Lol! One question: were you searched on your way home?
Different island nations may also prohibit the taking of certain other shells. We were not allowed to bring top shells back to the U.S. from the Marshall Islands, in addition to giant clams, spider conchs, finger conchs, all corals and various other shells. Top shells provide the mother-of-pearl material used in button making, and therefore some island nations prohibit taking the raw material used in that industry. And it’s not always a concern about taking live specimens. The breakdown of all these shells is what eventually builds the sand beaches in these exotic locales. We’re fortunate in SW Florida that the prohibition only extends to live marine specimens.
Joyce, I still have to find good places for them. the Shellaboratory is already stuffed! lol That will be a good summer project, right?
Shelling is a world wide hobby and if there were any regulations, I think they would have been posted where you would be likely to see them.
thank you for this very interesting posting. I am looking forward to the post on sea glass as that is what I mainly look for now on th NJ beaches since I have so many local shells.i
These shells are amazing! What a wonderful shelling trip. And how generous of you and Clark to share your beachcombing with the young Marine. You are both such special people.
Awww thats sweet Candace. She was the special one- she’s learning new trades, seeing the world and getting an education. Smart girl!
WoW Pam!! What beautiful shells they have there! Thanks for sharing!
Love all the shells and sea glass. Did you find aany marbles?
Yes! Sharon i found sea marbles. i’ll post pics of them soon- my first ones!
OMGosh I am drooling all over the place here. Beautiful, beautiful shells. What a wonderful gesture on your part to give away the shells you were not taking home. I am sure the restaurant owner’s family will do them proud. Thanks so very much for all the sharing you do.
We thought about just putting them back on the beach but Manahu puts shells in front of his restaurant too which is on the beach so we thought he would know what to do with them and i think he was just as excited about those those too. haha He is so adorable.
HOLY SMOKES!!!!! I probably wouldn’t have been able to breath if I had been with you and oh how I wish I had been with you. No words can express the amazement in all you found…. what an absolutely wonderful trip.
haha- i think i did lose my breath a coupe of times- I gasped!
THIS IS THE MOST AMAZING SHELLING HAUL I HAVE EVER SEEN. WOW, Pam!!!!!!! SOOOOOOOO cool!!!!!!!!!!
Nice finds!!!! Glad you enjoyed okinawa!! spider conchs are known to be good luck here!!! isn’t amazing how many are just washed ay up on the shore!? I am interested to know where exactly on the Island you ventured if you wouldn’t mind messaging me!
Yes Katie! It’s unbelievable! I had dropped pins on the map in my phone in all the places we found the best stuff…. but then my phone drowned. I do know that the beaches on the east side around 331 were the best for us (well and at our hotel beach and north all along that stretch of 58 that eventually runs under to the underpass of the expressway). We could not find a map online that gave the beach names in english so it was hard to keep good records. Do you have a link to a map with the name of the different beaches?
We loved the cones, cowries, etc. I love all the photos and information that you provide us. I have a dificult time with the latin names of shells-not everyone who collects shells is a science expert. It would be much more enjoyable for everyone if there were english names along with the latin names. I just hope that you continue to go on your trips so those of us who can’t travel can enjoy your enthusiasm and joy. I love seeing pictures of new shells. Pat
Thank you sweet Pat. ♥︎
Is that Buzz Light Year in the bling tray? I love that you chose to keep him along with all the beautiful shells.
Haha yes- Clark found Buzz! I tied him on my backpack and got used to him hanging out with us so I had to make room for him to come back home to the states. I think he’s happy too! I’ll show u the rest of the bling tray in a post coming up …. With the sea glass! Yay! And a few sea beans too. That stuff tickles me so much. :)
Looking forward to the bling and sea glass post. Love the story of Buzz..
Totally entrancing! It must have been an absolute blast finding these. So much variety, it’s dazzling. Amazing cones. The perfect spider conch, the big Tidacna! (of course I was immediately focused on that big clam) It’s like the inventory in a shell shop…These are the exact shells that I see for sale in shell shops but could never hope to find myself because they are Indo-Pacific shells. I can’t believe you picked up “shell shop shells” just lying on the beach!
I know, Bird, Crazy shell shop shells! Someone else said- u found wedding shells…. That aren’t wedding shell there. Lol
WOWWWW! I’m very envious! Thanks so much for sharing the adventure. The small Muricids in the center of photo #11 and the upper lefthand top-like shells in photo #12 look like species that my neighbor recently gave me (collected by her Dad in the 1940s in the W. Pacific). If you determine them to species would love know what they are…
Wow, wow, wow!!! I am green of envy. And for the first time in my life I consider a vacation in Japan! Thank you so much for sharing!
So cool, Pam! What an amazing haul! You guys take the best trips. :)
Philadelphia got socked by a storm on Tuesday and we’ve been without power for 2 days. I missed reading the I Love Shelling blog as much as I missed my coffee in the morning. We’re packing for our annual pilgrimage to Sanibel, and wondering perhaps if you or other readers can help with a perennial problem: flip flops that don’t slide around underfoot when wet. Every pair I buy turn into lethal weapons when I wear them in the water. If anyone knows a brand that doesn’t slip and slide when wet, please share that information! Thanks!
I love croc flip flops and thats what i wear normally when on Sanibel. but when I’m on vacation, i wear water shoes. I’ve just about tried them all but this last trip was THE best- not one blister (which is the first time ever). I wore Sperry water shoes with regular tennis socks. i know- sounds a little much… but my feet NEVER hurt and i think it saved my back too. I can’t remember who told me, but a few years ago someone told me to wear regular socks with water shoes and i thought it would feel strange with wet socks on all day… i finally tried it after years of coming back from vacation with solid blistered feet. well…. now I might just add pictures of this on to my next post! :)
Pam I must be doing something wrong. I wear socks with my crocs and I still get a backache! Have fun with your sorting. Pat
Just wow!!! This is weird, but I have this dream…I’m on a beach, somewhere, searching for shells and then come upon a mother load of lots of beautiful empties on the beach and so many different varieties and colors and am so happy until I wake up the next morning realizing it was just a dream. :( I know people who have the dream that they’ve won a huge lotto jackpot worth millions of dollars but not me. Mine is finding the jackpot of shells and I have those dreams a few times a year. Crazy, I know, but it’s probably not having that many opportunities to get to beaches other than SC, where it’s the same ole, same ole. Getting to Okinawa or Thailand would be like fulfilling that dream. Thank you for sharing the pictures of your finds, I’m really enjoying them. So many look like the kinds I’ve seen for sale in shell shops at the beaches. I’ve bought a couple over the years but the ones I find myself have much more meaning to me because I found them. I just can’t wait to see where your next adventure for exotic shelling will be.
Haha, I dream almost three times in a week about finding shells. Nice to hear that I am not the only one! :-)
Kerstin, SO glad someone else has those same dreams too! :)
I don’t know what to say that hasn’t already been said, but WOW!!! It sounds like the trip of a lifetime. Thank you and Clark for all you do and sharing your expiditions with all of us.
WOW, what a great selection of beautiful shells you found!! How fun your trip must have been, I admit to being more than a little envious of y’all! Glad you had a great time and I can’t wait to see what you’ll do with all these shells and the beach glass!! Thanks for sharing your photos!!
So insane, I can’t beleve my eyeballs!! So happy for you both!
What a dream come true. So excited for you and Clark! Now Okinawa is on my bucket list. Do you think what you found was normal for this time of year or were you there right after a storm? Would you stay at the same place next time or is there a different beach you would stay? The shot of the bay looks so calm that I don’t understand how the shells would be pushed up to the shore.
Hugs to you and Clark.
Enjoyed your photos and post of Okinawa. My husband was stationed in Okinawa back in the late 70’s and told stories of the cone shells shooting out harpoons! Did you see or collect this species of cone shell?
Hi Pam – How did you clean your shells? They are so shiny! Did they originally have that same coating as the ones on Sanibel?
I know that Pam does not usually do radical cleaning on shells, and I would imagine that all of the shiny shells you see in these shots are completely natural, the way Pam found them.
You are so right Susan H! Lol I don’t usually do radical cleaning … But … We were so thrilled about the shells we found … And to see so many different species that CLARK was the one who cleaned AND oiled ALL of them with mineral oil. Lol. It really was an amazing trip and each beach was an over the top experience. Clark couldn’t wait to put that mineral oil on each one to see what there real colors looked like on each one. :)
Congrats on your trip and the beautiful shells!
Wow! Talk about an assortment of shells and colors!
How did you get all of those home in one piece?
Looking forward to the Buzz, bling and sea glass post!
I just got back from St. Eustatius in the Caribbean and guess what… a British Wikipedia friend who lives in Tokyo went on a trip to Okinawa, and while I was awayhe had sent me a box of shells!
There are some of the same species you found, although mostly not as nice specimens, but he did find a nautilus!
Thanks Pam – what a wonderful post. I was stationed at White Beach in Okinawa 20 years ago and probably found as many specimen quality shells in 6 months as I found diving in Hawaii in 8 years. I really loved shell hunting there. You’re post took me back to a good time in my life!
Hi Owen! I love that this brought you back to your good memories of the beaches of Okinawa. It’s an amazing place and being able to walk those beaches will forever make our Okinawa memories great ones too. Thank you for writing!
Thank you Pam! Of course it makes me wonder what those smaller islands in the chain might have to offer! I think I found 20 different varieties of cowery alone. Also found a tridents trumpet in about 10 feet of water in a cave filled with a dozen lion fish. I wish I had a camera…
I live on Okinawa and spend as much time as possible beach combing. Can you share the names of some of the beaches you found these shells on?
I have traveled to okinawa 3 times since I read about Okinawa on your website. I found some excellent shells, but nothing in comparison to what you found. I am so frustrated. I know you told someone that the beaches you went have no names, but could you at least tell me what town or landmark they are near to? I am going again in June. I think I screwed up by booking reservations at the jal resort okuma in kunigami for too many bites because I kept reading about how others found shells up north. Please help me.
Dear Pam, I’m amazed by your Blog! I also enjoying collecting shells wherever I am, but I never thought one can actually find these kinds of shells. One thing I was wondering is about the cone shells, I believe some of them are highly venemous, how so you handle them? Do wear some kind of protective glove? By the end of the month,I’ll be going to Hongkong and am excited to go looking for shells,but I’m also unsure how to handle the cones.