Products, People, Places and Things Representing the Best in Coastal Living

Products, People, Places and Things Representing the Best in Coastal Living.
Welcome to our blog "Coastal Creations & Design." We hope that you'll visit us often and read about our favorite coastal destinations, beach-inspired products, inviting seaside spaces, original artists works and people living the coastal lifestyle.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sea Shell Hunting at John D.MacArthur Beach State Park, Florida

Photo by Joe Elder

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty much over this frigid weather. It’s time to stow away the gloves and winter coats and trade them in for shorts, T-shirts and boat shoes. Actually, I could really use a warm climate attitude adjustment. This would include a wide open un-crowded beach, crystal clear sky blue waters, the warmth of the sand between my toes and the hot sun on my back. And, there’s no better way to clear out the non-ending mind chatter than quality time walking the beach hunting for that perfect seashell.

My wife Alison and I have discovered the perfect place for this sun-worshiping endeavor. Our destination: John D. MacArthur Beach State Park on the east-coast of Florida. Never heard of it? It’s located in northern Palm Beach County on Singer Island, 2.8 miles south of the intersection of U.S. 1 and PGA Boulevard on A1A. It’s the only state park in Palm Beach County, an "island in time" preserving the lush and diverse subtropical coastal habitats that once covered southeast Florida. The park is nestled on a barrier island; it encompasses 325 acres, which includes mangrove fringed estuary, coastal hardwood forests, nearly two miles of beach and shallow near shore reefs.

Of course there are numerous beaches along Florida’s coast that offer great sea shell collecting - especially on the gulf coast. But this is our favorite hunting ground and a “must do” while visiting family in Palm Beach. The beach at MacArthur Park spans an area nearly three mile long. You can usually find numerous pockets of shells as you walk along the beach. We typically find scotch bonnets, varieties of clams and whelks, troches, tritely, limpets, fig shells, large numbers of lettered olives, an occasional lion’s paw and one time I even found a large Queen Helmet.

Photo by Joe Elder
I would be lying if I suggested that the shell hunting at MacArthur Park is always great. It’s not. Like most shell-hunting destinations, it’s all about timing. Factors like storms, real high or low tides can certainly make a difference. One of the first times that Alison and I visited MacArthur Beach was when there had been an extremely low tide. The water had receded beyond the reefs, exposing the sandy bottom that is typically underwater. It was by far one of the best days for shell hunting that we’ve encountered to date. Another memorable visit was after a large storm. The waves had pounded the beach area as far up as to the mangroves and had uncovered tons of shells. We found an unusually large assortment of shells and in great numbers. We also find sea glass along the waters edge in a variety of colors.

For the best shell hunting, we recommend that you check the tide chart for Singer Island or North Palm Beach and plan to get there as the tide is receding.

Here's an idea to dress up your coastal abode with some of your favorite shell treasures. We make them into beautiful lamp finials that we use in our home and also sell them in our store. You'll need epoxy glue or a comparable adhesive and a lamp finial base. You can order the brass finial blanks from most lamp accessory suppliers. Here's a picture of one of our finials using my favorite scoth bonnet shell. Not into making your own finial? You can buy one from us in our store or online on our webstore. All of the shells used we've found at MacArthur Beach Park.

To get to the beach, you’ll cross the 1,600-foot boardwalk that spans Lake Worth Cove. Mangroves surrounding the Cove comprise the most productive estuarine system in all of Lake Worth. Herons, ibis, roseate spoonbills and osprey hunt for prey, while fiddler crabs scuttle among the roots of the "walking trees."

Photo by Joe Elder
At the beach end of the boardwalk, on the west side of the dunes, lies a coastal hammock. On the beach, sea lavender, beach star and other rare native plant species thrive. Along the ocean shoreline, brown pelicans, terns, sandpipers and other shorebirds may be seen resting and feeding.

MacArthur Beach is also a prime nesting area for sea turtles. Large numbers of loggerhead, green and leatherback turtles nest in the park from early May through late August. Marine life is abundant along the offshore reefs and rock outcroppings within the park. These spectacular natural features, easily accessible from shore, make snorkeling a popular activity in the shallow waters.

Because it is a natural barrier island, the park also protects the mainland from harsh ocean storms. Shifting beach sands absorb wind and wave energy.

The park is located in northern Palm Beach County along Jack Nicklaus Drive in North Palm Beach. The park is open from 8am until sundown 365 days a year. The entrance fee is $5.00 per vehicle, maximum of 8 people. Park visitors can participate in a variety of recreational activities, including kayaking, fishing, bird-watching, and snorkeling.

For more information about MacArthur Beach Park, visit their web site at   You can also interact on their Facebook page. Go to:   Hope to see you there!

Tired of the cold weather? Tell us about your favorite warm weather getaway. Have a favorite sea shell hunting destination? Please share it with us. Love to hear from you! Joe & Alison Elder


  1. Thanks for the great description. I find it hard to find sea glass in PBC. I'll try MacArthur. Also appreciate the receding tide suggestion. I'll let you know if I have success! Happy hunting!

  2. That's amazing. I love the first picture with the beach covered by sea shells. And I like the idea with the lamp finial, looks really stylish.