The beaches along the North Shore are wonderful for beach combing. Early in the morning is the best time to seek shell treasures washed up along the high tide line. Perhaps you will be lucky enough to find a rare and highly prized sunrise shell or glass fishing float. Rock pools and shallow shore breaks are also worth investigating as you never know where a beautiful cowrie or cone shell may be lying. Sifting carefully through the sand will reveal puka shells and Niihau shells and a myriad of tiny colorful treasures and sea glass.
Hawaii’s marine life is rare and valuable so be sure to take only broken or abandoned shells that are not providing shelter to a snail or a little hermit crab! Remember also that some cone shells are venomous so only pick up shells that you are familiar with.
Avoid walking on the reef without proper reef shoes as the rocks are sharp and slippery and harbor spiky sea urchins that are extremely painful to step on. The needle-like spines break off and embed in the skin and are difficult to remove. Coral cuts are also painful and prone to infection. Eels hide in holes in the reef so beware of reaching for shells in rock crevices as an eel will bite if it feels threatened. It is much safer to avoid the reef and search for shells in the sand along the shoreline.
Hanalei Bay and Tunnels Beach provide long stretches of golden sand to comb for shells on the north shore. Polihale on the west side is a prime spot for puka shells and sunrise shells. Glass Beach in Hanapepe is a fun stop to look at the colorful glass mingled in the darker black sand. Local artisans collect the blue, opaque and aqua pebbles to make sea-glass and shell jewelry from Kauai.