We will reveal one place, however, that is a must if you are a serious seashell nut like us.
Nakhonsrithammarat. Going a few blocks east of the train station, or a few blocks west of the Big C mall, there is a pedestrian bridge over the street with an obvious Chinese motif. Turn up that street, roughly north, and shortly past the 7-11 on the left side, you will see songteaws parked waiting for passengers.
You want Tha Sala. Thirty or forty minutes, around a dollar, and you will pull into the small town of Tha Sala. At the 7-11, yes they are everywhere, hit the buzzer and get off. The old guys sitting on their motorbikes with colored vests, these are motorbike taxi drivers. Tell them “talay” which is Thai for beach. Be creative; use your best pantomime skills to let them know you want to find seashells. Thai word for seashells is “hoy.”
You should wind around some inner waterways with some beautiful fishing boats tied up, across a few very small bridges, around some slippery sand covered 90 degree curves, and arrive at the beach.
If you smell the local fisherman’s daily catch of tiny shrimp spread on the ground drying, and see a large stone jetty off to your right, you are in the right place. Here is the clinker. Get the guys phone number, or give him a set time to return as no motorbike taxis frequent this area. There is an ad hoc park near the jetty and river with several small Muslim run food stalls and cold drinks.
Its likely blazing hot and you think, seashells, here? Walk to the beach and start walking to your left. The actual beach goes for miles, we have trudged most of it. Start looking. Use a stick to forage around the flotsam and jetsam up high on the beach from high tides or big storms. You won’t be disappointed.
Make sure you have a least a liter or two of water, small picnic lunch, and bags to carry your treasures home. They are there, thousands of beautiful shells of many varieties and colors. Your friends for the day will be an occasional goat, cow, or friendly dog. Take time to set up a small shelter with shade or head off to get under one of the many coconut trees set back from the beach. Be careful as the sun is daunting here. And yes, the water is nice for swimming.
If you make it down to the jetty, there are some trees here and there that offer nice resting points. A dip in the river for a little swim is pleasant as well.
Closer to home, for us, in Nakhon, is the coastline that you can catch glimpses of from the jetty, looking south. Our secret spots such as Lotus Beach and Mangrove Shell Nirvana are here. Little or no traditional sandy beach actually lies here, but by exploring and hiking we have found incredible spots with tens of thousands of nice shells.
Actually Mangrove Shell Nirvana is a small mangrove forest set back from the ocean that we stumbled upon when seeking shade. Stepped in, sat down to relax in the shade, let the eyes adjust, and there in the soil and leaves, loads and loads of shells. Isn’t this natural world amazing, we think so?
Our goal is to find beautiful shells for us, and to use in our jewelry and shell shop.
If you have ever found a flake or small nugget of gold, you know that thrill and feeling of wanting to search for more. This is the same thrill we feel when on a hot spot, a mother lode, of seashells.