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Is it okay to pick up sea shells & bring home?

Houston, Texas
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Is it okay to pick up sea shells & bring home?

Keep reading about not taking any stones home but what about sea shells? We usually collect a few from different beaches for our small collection.


Kauai, Hawaii
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1. Re: Is it okay to pick up sea shells & bring home?

Not sure about taking sea shells....but we practice the leaving only footprints, and not taking anything from the ocean, or land.

We do not touch, chase , or harass the sea critters including honu.

We do not feed any of natures critters , other than oursleves of course.

Prior to moving to the islands, I had quite a nice collection of corals, and shells.....all purchased from shell shops. did not bring them with us, as we gave almost all of our possessions away prior to leaving the mainland.

Others might be able to help with the regulations, and suggestions.

For us , as visitors, we traveled light, brought our aloha , and returned with wonderful memories. Yep, we did purchase gifts for friends and family, as well as tank top and local visor or two for myself..from different vacations.. ....Erica would generally bring back a tropical dress, and maybe a pearl pendant or such.

Now, that is just our thoughts and practices......other folks have different ideas.


Albuquerque, New...
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534 posts
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2. Re: Is it okay to pick up sea shells & bring home?

You will be surprised at the lack of shells on Hawaiian beaches.

I guess all the reefs keep the shells from reaching the sand, unlike Florida, where shells are so abundant. You will see some tiny ones, and some bits of sea glass and coral, but really nothing very exiting or worth taking home.

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3. Re: Is it okay to pick up sea shells & bring home?

If you find any, and good luck with that, No, it's not okay to keep them.

Honolulu, Hawaii
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4. Re: Is it okay to pick up sea shells & bring home?

If you find a memorable one....

That's a real score.

You are more than welcome to keep it and take it home. They are few and far between, and there are many locals who would snag one if they found it.

Many artisans collect shells for their works and to make jewelry.

Just make sure it does not have a critter inside and is well cleaned of all soil and any plant life.

It is absolutely no big deal. But will probably be a big disappointment to any collector.

Houston, Texas
14 posts
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5. Re: Is it okay to pick up sea shells & bring home?

I'm so surprised to find out there is not many sea shells. Love to learn new things!


Thanks for letting us know that if we find one it's okay to bring home.

Destination Expert
for Maui
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22,343 posts
18 reviews
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6. Re: Is it okay to pick up sea shells & bring home?

There really are no shells on the beach! The ones I have have been scooped from the bottom by my crazy sons practicing free-diving! They hold their breath, take a rock and "sink" to walk along the ocean bottom. Obviously not something I would advise for a sane person!

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7. Re: Is it okay to pick up sea shells & bring home?

Agree, I've never seen a shell in all my visits.

Maui, Hawaii
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8. Re: Is it okay to pick up sea shells & bring home?

I collect seaglass in the West Maui area along the shoreline. There are a few shells but not too big.

I drop them into a little bleach to remove any smelly inerds.

The puka shells are the top of a shell that has worn down to a disk shape and then a natural hole has worn through. They work very well as rondells or spacers when making jewelry.

Island of Hawaii...
Destination Expert
for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
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9. Re: Is it okay to pick up sea shells & bring home?

I agree with amberloo that it's OK to pick one up. I am 100% adverse to harassing wildlife and all that, and I do understand that theoretically it would be possible to denude Hawai'i of sand if enough people took away enough pieces of shell and coral and prevented them from becoming sand.

However, an intact shell that has lost its inhabitant naturally is not going to stay intact long. It's a wonder of nature's creation, and its fate is to be battered by waves on rocks and pulverized ... so if someone picks it up, it can be enjoyed for many years.

What is not so good, in that it depletes species, is diving the reefs and plucking the creatures alive so as to get perfect shells. Those are the shells you find in shell shops. They weren't cast up onto the beach; they were harvested. I bought some beautiful shells on Rarotonga, expensive ones, and I admire them daily and have no plans to toss them ... but afterwards I questioned the methods. Although there is some regulation.

As an example of a different set of rules, in order to take shells out of the Cooks you have to take them to an inspector and get a CITES certificate. All found shells must be cleaned and soaked in bleach beforehand. Only 3 pieces of dead coral allowed. Shells unlimited, but coral carefully monitored. Here, we have tons of coral broken along the shorelines, but very few shells, and no certificates needed for removal.

The stones thing is not about stones, per se; it's about lava rock. Lava rock is the domain of the Goddess Pele.

Hana, Hawaii
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10. Re: Is it okay to pick up sea shells & bring home?

Please pick up some cigarrette butts off the beach....good luck on a shell.

KK, that lava is very kapu....Goddess Pele told me once all about it in a dream. BTW, I have a Hana (intact) coconut from 1994. How long do them suckahs stay in one piece? (Taking coconuts is not kapu is it?)

Edited: 3:42 pm, July 26, 2010