Do you want an isolated place to get away, with a tropical feel but still easy to get to? Consider visiting Sanibel Island. This quiet Island is known for its beautiful seashells that wash ashore at all times of the day. Sanibel and Captiva extend like a bent finger into the sea, curling into the Gulf of Mexico and into the path of storms. This island is on par with Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, having more than 200 species of seashells; one of the Earth’s largest natural selections.
Also something to admire is the emphasis residents have made to preserve this treasured piece of land. And no stoplights! You will see local police directing traffic at peak times of the day. No large chains; no McDonald’s or Dunkin Donuts. They heavily support local business, and those businesses thrive! So, what are the top 10 tips when visiting Sanibel and Captiva Islands.. specifically for shelling?
1) Captiva Cruises: Captiva Island is just a short drive from Sanibel and is known for being even more private and just as beautiful. Cayo Costa State Park, located next to Captiva Island, has nine miles of beautiful beaches only accessible by boat. This is an ideal spot for shelling, hiking and biking. Captiva Cruises manages a ferry from Captiva to this location and it’s number one on my list when I return.
2) The best season for shelling is during the winter months. December and January are great, but February and March are the perfect due to the extreme tides.
4) The winds have an effect on shell patterns, too. Northwest winds are best for Captiva and southwest winds are great for the lighthouse end of Sanibel. Shelling after a storm with west winds gives the best results anytime.
9) Watch for gray fins rippling through the waves to catch a glimpse of some bottlenose dolphins. They generally travel in groups of 2-6, visiting the island shores and waters to feed. Chances are you will see a pod while swimming or boating.
10) It is illegal to take “live” shells, sand dollars and starfish from the ocean so don’t unless you want a fine.
To clean the shells, put them in a 50\50 bleach and water solution for a few hours or overnight. Remove any barnacles or other matter with a pick or a toothbrush. Then wipe them with mineral or baby oil to shine.
For a brief time I dabbled in photography with a manual focus 35 mm camera and developed the pictures in a local darkroom. These images were taken inside of an old barn owned by a civil war general in upstate NY. They were done during the winter season and the props were already in the barn; just needed to be “arranged”. Hope you like!
This video is older but still my favorite so I wanted to post it again for you!