Hawaiian Sea Shells – Information

Aloha Everyone,

I would like to give you some information on Hawaiian sea shells that I find on a regular basis here on the North Shore of Oahu. There is a wide range of beautiful sea shells to be found and I want to share some info on them. So Let’s begin.


Puka Shells

A puka sea shell is actually a piece that broke off a cone shell (the tip) and over time the excessive tumbling in the sand makes them smooth and gives them a puka (Hawaiian word for hole) . The pukas can be found on every island in Hawaii and in great numbers.

The pukas can be found in many sizes ranging from pin head sizes and up to sizes of a quarter (and even larger). They were made popular in the 1960’s as an awesome looking lei. This shell is great for making handmade jewelry.




Cone Shells

These are one of my favorite shells to find because there are such a variety of them. They all generally have the same shape (the cone shape, hence the name) but there are many types and colors to be found.

You should always take caution when finding a cone shell, the cone shell often times will have a snail inside, and the snail has evolved over time and has a venomous barb or harpoon that can extend out from the head. All cone shells are venomous and there is over 800 species of cone shells.

The venom in the small one’s have venom of that of a bee sting; however, the larger one’s have venom more powerful and can even be deadly . These shells are found mostly in warm waters around the world but some can also be found in colder waters around Africa and also California.







Cowry Shells

Cowry shells are great for making handmade jewelry, they have a polished finish in most cases and are found in many colors. These shells have snails just like the cone shells but are Not venomous as far as I understand.

Cowries were used as currency back in the day, cowry shell money was important at one time in Africa, Asia and East Asia. I find this to be amazing because if that was the case today I would be very rich. Cowry shells are egg shaped with a flat bottom which has a split like opening.

They generally have a high polished look to them except for the granulated cowry found only in Hawaii.








Drupe Shells

Gereally speaking, drupe shells have a thick body whorl and three to four strong folds on the columella. They have about eight large teeth on the inside of the outer lip.


The body whorl is encircled by four rows of large nodules. These feed on small invertebrates and can be found in Indo- Pacific regions. Drupes are often used to make very nice shell jewelry, the purple pacific drupes are my favorite.








Sunrise Shells

The sunrise shell is the most rare shell found in Hawaii and the most valuable. These shells are found mostly in the deeps water around the Hawaiian islands. Sunrise shells are in the scallop family and come in many colors, most commonly in orange and yellow

Sunrise shells can also be found in red, white, blue, pink but the green ones are the most valuable. They can also have darker colors; as these are known as “Moon rise” shells.

You can find sunrise and moon rise shells along the beaches of the North and West facing shore after large swells and storms. The best time to find these beautiful shells is early in the morning, hence the name “sunrise” shell.

Its very important that is you find one alive please do not keep it!









Sea Glass

Although, sea glass is not a shell it is found on the beaches of all Hawaiian islands. Sea glass can be found in many colors and are dull. It takes decades for glass to become “sea glass”.

The different colors of sea glass come from many sources such as bottles (beer bottles, medical bottles, wine bottles, etc)


Mostly from beer bottles but Lysol bottles way back were made with brown glass


Mostly from beer, wine and soda bottles


This color Can be from really and bottle as long as the bottle was made with manganese. This color is a rare find and the purple glass is even more rare.


This color is my favorite to find and the source of these are from medicine bottles. This color in my opinion is the color everyone wants to find.

There are other colors that can be found for more info check out…








These shells are smooth or ornamented with spiral ribs or vertical folds. All miters have a narrow look to them and have a siphonal notch and folds on the columella. The other lip well be smooth, corrugated, or toothed.

I find these a lot on the beaches here on the North Shore of Oahu (this pic is a punctured Miter) and I love finding these because of the color/ look and they make great jewelry as well.




I hope this information gave a better understanding of some of the shells (and sea glass) that can be found in the Hawaiian Island. There are many many more to be found I will create another post on those soon.

If you have any questions or have any info you would like to share please leave a comment below.

Like us below to  receive the latest posts!!



Tanya Louvier








Please follow and like us:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *