Dos and Don’ts of Sand Dollar Hunting

The beaches of Destin-Fort Walton Beach are teeming with wildlife. Few creatures are as iconic and sought after as the sand dollar. The bleached skeleton of sand dollars are most familiar as a memento from beach vacations. Living sand dollars are a brownish-purple color, and visitors are strongly discouraged from removing them from the beach because they are an important part of the local ecosystem. 

Here are the best ways to find sand dollars in Destin-Fort Walton Beach.

 

Swimming or Paddleboarding to the Second Sandbar

The beaches along Destin and Fort Walton Beach, Florida are a playground for swimmers and paddleboarders alike. The waters of the Gulf of Mexico along this gorgeous location are separated by two sandbars. A great way to fuse water recreation with a sand dollar hunt is to swim or paddleboard from the first to the second sandbar, which is a prime location for sand dollars, especially in the morning. This is typically a short journey, roughly 500 feet or two to three minutes on a paddleboard. The sand dollars on the second sandbar will typically be a darker color as they haven’t been bleached by the sun yet. Pick one up for a photo-op before returning the little guy to the water.

 

During a Snorkel Adventure

The best way to get a look at sand dollars might be to venture beneath the waves to their natural habitat. Schedule a morning cruise on a catamaran with Cattywampus and you’ll be treated to snorkel session as well. Or book a scuba expedition with Destin Snorkel and go on the hunt for sand dollars as they swim and scurry against the sandy bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. Of course, you’re also bound to get a look at some of the other vibrant wildlife common to this region including dolphins, sea turtles, and more.

 

How to Preserve Sand Dollars

The most important rule for collecting sand dollars is never to collect live specimens. Living sand dollars are typically a brownish color. If you observe carefully, you will also note that the sand dollar still has little spines on its surface. Lastly, living sand dollars sometimes secrete a substance that will make the surface of your hand yellow. If you find a living sand dollar, return it to the water before it dries out.

Dead sand dollars are typically bleached to a silvery white color and can be safely taken with you as a souvenir from your trip. Be gentle when taking them from the beach as they can often be quite fragile. Once you get them home, it’s best to soak the sand dollar in a solution of 30% bleach to water for about fifteen minutes before allowing it to dry. This will clean and preserve your memento.



If you find a particularly lovely sand dollar on your adventures in the area, snap a photo and post to your favorite social media account with #DestinFWB.