What is a Sand Dollar? (And Where You Can Find Them!)

Sand dollar being held up to the sun in North Captiva

You probably know what a sand dollar isn’t – a valid form of currency. While it’s too bad you can’t buy a cheeseburger in paradise with a handful of sand dollars, they’re still fun to collect if you know where to look.

Read on to learn more about these intriguing little sea creatures and where to find them on The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel.

Sand dollars are a species of extremely flattened, burrowing sea urchins. They are typically the size of a silver dollar, give or take an inch, and now you know where they get their name.

All sand dollars have a rigid skeleton called a “test” (no, not the kind you find in a classroom) and are covered in a skin of velvet-like spines, which help move them along the seabed. The spines also give sand dollars their color, which can be green, blue, violet or purple, depending on the species.  

Hand holding sand dollar

If you pick up a sand dollar on the beach that happens to be one of those colors, it may still be alive – meaning you need to put it back in its watery home since it’s against the law to remove a living creature from its habitat. If you happen upon a bleached white sand dollar that is without tiny spines, then it’s A-OK to pocket this sought-after beach treasure. As for where to find them? It pays to know.

Sand dollar found in the sand

Where Do Sand Dollars Hang Out? The Sand Bank?

Sanibel Island is a haven for serious shellers, so it’s the perfect place to start your search. Because it lies east to west, the island acts as a giant collecting point, bringing in an abundance of beautiful – and highly collectible – shells from the Gulf of Mexico. Look for them at low tide, and especially after a storm. Sanibel’s most popular spots for shelling include Bowman’s Beach and Tarpon Bay Beach.

Ready to collect some valuable sand dollars to put in your own seashell bank? Start planning your shelling trip to The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel today.

We Think You'll Also Like

Continue Exploring