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  • Writer's pictureHilton Head Outfitters

5 Shells to Find Beachcombing on Hilton Head Island

Updated: Jul 23, 2021

If you love to collect shells, you should certainly add some Hilton Head Island shell staples to your collection. According to South Carolina Parks and Recreation, there are two types of shells you’ll find in South Carolina. Bivalves, which include oysters and clams, have two sections that are connected by a hinge. Gastropods, which include whelks and moon snails, are single shells that typically grow in a spiral.

We’ve got a list of 5 common shells of both types that you can find when beachcombing around Hilton Head Island.

  • Angelwing – The angelwing shell is a common sighting around Atlantic Ocean beaches on Hilton Head Island. A bivalve, with two shells connected, the angelwing has beaded ribs and is about 4-7 inches long. They are butterfly shaped and fairly delicate.

  • Atlantic Jackknife – This shell can be up to 10 inches long with sharp edges. It’s covered with a thin brownish green coating and is typically found in sand flats.

  • Banded Tulip – A sturdy and smooth shell, the banded tulip has 7-11 spiral purple-brown lines and 5-6 spiral maroon lines. These shells are usually 2 ½-3 inches long.

  • Channeled Whelk – A great find, the channeled whelk has a wide channel with a few small beads and is about 5-7 ½ inches long. Look for it in shallow sandy spots.

  • Lettered Olive – The lettered olive is the South Carolina state shell due to its commonness on state beaches. It’s about 2 1/2 inches long and is smooth, shiny and cylindrical shaped. According to Wikipedia, Native Americans made jewelry from these shells.

Need tips for the best beachcombing on Hilton Head? Read our blog for some helpful hints and good luck! Remember, if you find a shell with a live creature inside, be sure to release it back into the water.

For information about beach rentals, surf board rentals, kayak and canoe rentals and bike rentals, visit us or call us at 866-650-4132.


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