Can You Find Shark Teeth and Sand Dollars in Cancun?


If you’re heading to Cancun for some relaxation and beachcombing, then you might be wondering what you can expect to find on the beaches. While it’s well known that conch shells can be spotted all across the coast, some of the other ocean treasures, like shark teeth and sand dollars, are less talked about. 

Sand dollars and shark teeth can be found on most beaches throughout the Gulf Coast and the Caribbean Sea. The Caribbean currents flow northward and into the Gulf, making the Yucatan peninsula an excellent spot for beachcombing.  

However, these findings are more prevalent on some beaches than others, so it’s important for beachcombers to know where to look so that you don’t go home empty-handed. Below, you will learn about looking for shark teeth and sand dollars in Cancun, and where you can expect to find them. 

Can Shark Teeth and Sand Dollars Be Found in Cancun?

The coastal beaches of the Yucatan peninsula host some of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. But it’s not just the white sands and great weather that attracts millions of people from all over each year. With the Northern Hemisphere’s largest barrier reef right off the coast and the Gulf having a relatively shallow bottom, this is the perfect environment for a rich variety of sea life. 

Sharks and sand dollars can be found all throughout the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. And so can the things they leave behind. When combing the beaches of Cancun, visitors can be sure to find shark teeth, sand dollars, and a variety of other shells hiding out in the sand.  

However, just because you can find them, doesn’t mean that you will. Many of Cancun’s beaches are highly populated, which can make beachcombing and shell searching a bit tricky. That’s why you need to know where to look.

Where is the Best Place to Find Sand Dollars?

Over 250 species of sand dollars call our oceans home. And a large chunk of them can be found in the temperate and tropical waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, and the Atlantic. When a sand dollar dies, the skeleton, or test, often washes ashore. But how do you know the best places to find them?

For the most part, windward eastern beaches are going to be the best for beachcombing. However, those aren’t the only beaches where you can expect to find sand dollars. Here are some of the best beaches to try your luck with finding sand dollars in Cancun:

  • Isla Blanca
  • Playa Punta Nizuc
  • Playa Pez Volador
  • Playa Las Perlas
  • Playa Centro
  • Hermosa Caleta
  • Playa El Cocal

When collecting sand dollars, make sure to only pick up the ones that are white and never collect live specimens. Searching during low tide is best, especially if there was a storm the night before.  

When Can You Find Shark Teeth in Cancun

As a general rule, if there are sharks in the water, then there are teeth to be found. However, just like with the sand dollars, the beach you choose to look on is going to impact your chances of finding them. When you decided to search is also important. 

The best time to look for shark teeth in Cancun is during low tide, after a storm. Wondering how accurate the weather forecast is in Cancun? Click the link to read more.

Typically, whenever there is an even that dredges up the ocean floor, more shark teeth, shells, sea glass, and sand dollars are sure to show up on the beach. 

Sand bars are another great place to search since the water is constantly shifting the sand around. 

As for which beaches to look on, the island of Isla Mujeres is a good place to start! Between June and September, one of the world’s greatest concentrations of whale sharks can be found off the coast of here.

What Kinds of Shark Teeth Are Found in Cancun?

Shark sightings are quite common in Cancun and the Yucatan peninsula. In fact, shark sighting tours and shark diving are some of the most popular activities that tourist look forward to during their visit. 

Some of the shark teeth you may be lucky to find include:

  • Caribbean reef shark
  • Bull shark
  • Tiger shark
  • Hammerhead shark
  • Mako shark
  • Nurse shark
  • Lemon shark
  • Whale shark

When looking for shark teeth, don’t forget to scan shell piles. While those bits of broken shells may not appeal to your collection, they are a great place for shark teeth to hide out. Also, keep in mind, that if you’ve found one, there are likely to be more. 

Is It Legal to Take Shark Teeth and Sand Dollars from Cancun?

While the USDA does not limit people from bringing shells into the country if properly cleaned, customs in Cancun may have an issue with it. Your best bet is to declare your items at customs. There, they will inspect the items and decide whether they are able to pass through. 

Shark teeth, on the other hand, can be a bit more complicated. Mexico does not permit people to take fossils out of the country. This included shark teeth fossils. However, not every shark tooth found on the beach is going to be a fossil. 

The key difference between fossilized shark teeth and regular shark teeth is the color. Recently lost shark teeth are white. Shark teeth fossils, however, are darker and come in a variety of colors depending on the sediment they were preserved in. 

So, while finding a shark tooth fossil might be exciting, your best bet for avoiding trouble with customs is to stick with the white, recently lost teeth instead.

Final Thoughts

Beachcombing can be a great way to bring some of the memories of your vacation back home with you, especially if you get lucky with a good find. Hopefully, this article gave you a better idea of where to find shark teeth and sand dollars in Cancun. Remember that low tide is your best chance to find something, and don’t forget to check those shell piles!

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