Shark Tooth Hunting in Charleston: The Best Spots


There are many things I’d never considered prior to moving to Charleston from New England. There are foods and beverages I’d never had the opportunity to try, like shrimp and grits, boiled peanuts, and sweet tea. Then activities and events that weren’t even on my radar, like shark tooth fossil hunting, despite spending most summers on Cape Ann and Cape Cod. But now, I find myself geeking out like a wannabe paleontologist, over that first glimpse of a sand tiger shark tooth peeking out from the sand. 

We’re fortunate here in the Lowcountry to have a number of locations to hunt for shark teeth and other fossils. This is due to the prevalence of phosphate coupled with layers upon layers of sediment over millions of years, making the area rich in fossils from shark teeth to fossilized vertebrae, and so much more. So how do you go about shark tooth hunting with kids in tow? And where are the best places in the Charleston area? 

shark toothTypes of Fossils You’ll Find When Shark Tooth Hunting in Charleston

Before we “dive in” and figure out where to go shark tooth hunting in Charleston, let’s first talk about what types of fossils or shark teeth we can expect to find in the Lowcountry, and the best times to head out in search of treasures. Here in the Charleston area you may find white/beige teeth in creeks and riverbanks, or you may discover a wide variety of fossilized teeth; these are jet-black and glossy. Typically, low tide is the best time of day for shark tooth hunting in Charleston, especially after a good rainstorm because the sediment and sand have been moving in from deeper waters. 

Patience is key when you’re hunting for fossils. My youngest was around seven years old when he had the stamina, patience, and interest in hunting for shark teeth on the beach. Of course, you know your child best, but mid-elementary age seems to be a great time to start because you’ll be able to hunt for shark teeth and fossils, then go back home or to the library to research your findings and determine exactly what you’ve discovered. 

Regulations & Fossil Hunting Permit

No matter where you go, remember to be respectful and adhere to local shark tooth hunting regulations. You don’t need a South Carolina fossil hunting permit or hobby license as long as you’re hunting on the water’s surface. It’s never okay to pick fossils or shark teeth from below the low tide line and digging or using tools is prohibited — there are steep fines associated with not adhering to the regulations. 

Best Places for Shark Tooth Hunting in Charleston

So now that you know what you’re looking for and when to look, here are a few of the best spots for locating fossils and shark teeth in the Charleston area!

After polling several of my homeschooling mom friends, Folly Beach was on everyone’s list as one of the best places to find shark teeth in Charleston. I have to agree, my youngest and I have had great luck at this park, especially at low tide.

If you’re having lunch on Folly Beach and find yourself near the pier during low tide, be sure to look down while you’re walking! The area around the pier is another great spot for finding beach fossils. 

1100 West Ashley Avenue
Cost: $5-$10/vehicle

Bring a picnic and make an afternoon of it at this James Island park. Adjacent to the James Island Yacht Club with gorgeous views of the harbor, Demetre Park is full of shark teeth just waiting to be discovered.

640 Wampler Drive
Cost: Free

The Sawmill Branch Trail in Summerville is a multi-use trail that spans approximately seven miles with four trailheads across the Summerville area. The paved trail spans the Sawmill Branch Canal, which is notorious for shark tooth hunting. 

500 E. Richardson Avenue
182 Ashley Drive
1900 Bacon’s Bridge Road
908 Crosscreek Drive
Cost: Free

These are just a few of the places in the Charleston area where you can find shark teeth and fossils; everyone seems to have their favorite. Is your favorite spot on this list or did we miss a good one?

Drop a comment below and let us know where you like to go shark tooth hunting in the Charleston area.  

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Marie Bentley
Marie is a freelance writer and homeschooling mom of four – three adult kids and an 11-year-old  – who, for the last 16 years has made the Lowcountry her home. While her family spends a large portion of the year traveling throughout the country, she's actually quite the homebody. When she's not writing – something she's been doing for almost 30 years– Marie loves getting out and about in Charleston, weaving local history into her youngest' homeschool lessons, and exploring the many resources, sites, museums, and landscapes SC has to offer. One of Marie's bucket list items is to visit/hike each of the 47 state parks. Will this be the year she completes the goal? Marie chronicles all of it on her homeschool blog and YouTube channel.


  1. Also try the Edisto River in Adams Run. Can park for free at the boat ramp on Parkers Ferry Rd. Make a day of it tubing down the river. At low tide stop wherever you see a big rock in the river and feel around the base. Always a winner! Low tide is best for shark tooth hunting, but high tide better for tubing. Either way it’s a blast with the kiddos.

    • Oh wow! What a great tip, I’m going to have yo try that with my son sometime, it sounds like a perfect outing! Thanks!

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