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Where is the best spot to gather shells?

Ask the Big Kahuna

“Answering the most common visitor questions”


We will be visiting O’ahu & The Big Island this fall and would like to know if there are any particular beaches where we can pick up shells without any bother to the natural habitat.

Thank you,



Aloha Kathy,

Mahalo for your question. Taking shells is not illegal according to the Kahuna’s consultants, but your concern is appropriate. If you’re a collector, then you’re probably seeking specific samples, like a good auger or opihi. If you’re filling out a collection and not taking buckets from the beach, you’re not doing much damage.

Otherwise, the Kahuna recommends a catch-and-release system. Pick up a nice shell or a small bag full, admire them in your room or on the lanai, then have a nice ceremony before you leave where you return them to their home on the beach. It’s fun and reduces the strain on the shell supply.

Have a nice visit,

Big Kahuna