The Beginner’s Guide to Shelling in Southwest Florida

In case you missed it, Sanibel is known as the shelling capital of the world. Located on the Gulf side of Florida is this beachcomber’s paradise. What makes Sanibel so unique? Its beaches are protected by an underwater shelf creating gentle currents that wash ashore some of the most beautiful shells you will ever lay your eyes on. Essentially, these shelves scoop the shells (say that 10x fast) and deliver them to you almost in perfect condition.

People from all around the world come to Sanibel and Captiva specifically to give shelling a go. The current is constantly presenting new shells from the Gulf and the Caribbean.

Best time to shell

Okay so now you’re ready to book the trip to discover hidden treasures of the ocean. Like all destination activities, there is a season to go to experience it to the fullest. For shelling in Sanibel and Captiva Islands, the best month to go is January. Book your excursion according to the tide too! Low tide is when the seashells are more visible. Don’t forget to pay attention to the moon, after all that is what changes the tides! Full and new moons are rumored to produce an abundance of shells. Another good time to go is after a Gulf storm- when the current and the waves are so strong the shells can’t help but be washed to shore.

Ft. Myers

How to shell

Shelling is easy! Bring a bucket, net bag and scoop. Or, if you’re like me, ditch the scoop and just use your hands to uncover hidden gems on the beach. A scoop is better for when you’re shelling in shallow water. Pro tip: wear shoes when shelling. I learned the hard way. Some shells are sharp making it uncomfortable to walk.

Please be conscientious when shelling. Shells are an important part of the ecosystem here, so important that Florida State Law prohibits the shelling of live shells. You may be thinking “but it’s just a shell.” And while yes it is a shell, there might still be a living organism inside. Sand dollars, starfish and sea urchins are also protected under this law.

Sanibel Island

Shell types

Shells come in all shapes and sizes! Keep your expectations low and you will be pleasantly surprised with what you find! There are so many different types of shells you can stumble upon including: Conchs, Lighting Whelk, Scallops, Coquina, and the coveted Junonia. Coveted? Yep. If you find one of these rare, deep-water loving shells you’ll get your name and photograph in the local paper! Unfortunately, I didn’t find one of these. But I did find conchs, mollusks and so many other kinds of shells!

Fun fact: seashells come in two types: gastropod and bivalve. The gastropods are categorized by having on sell, these are conchs and whelks. Bivavlves have two hinged shells that act as doors or walls to protect the organism, these are clams and scallops.

Florida Fighting Conch

Cayo CostaAn assortment of mollusks and conchs!

Cayo Costa

Shelling locations

Fort Myers Beach
Lighthouse Beach, Sanibel
Bowman’s Beach, Sanibel
Captiva Beach
Cayo Costa

Shelling

This post is written in partnership with The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel however, as always, all opinions are my own.

A Girlfriend Getaway Part 2: Marriott Stanton South Beach

We had already been in Miami for a few days. I was starting to acclimate to the heat, busyness and lifestyle. We switched locations to one of Miami’s most popular spots, South Beach. Driving through South Beach you can immediately feel the crazy, eccentric vibes. Not going to lie, at this point I was beginning to like it.

Marriott Stanton South Beach

Location

 Marriott Stanton South Beach recently underwent renovations and let me tell you, the result is flawless. The exterior begs to be photographed with the art deco vibes in true Miami fashion. You’ll catch cabs sitting out front daily adding a bit of nostalgia to a place that has changed so much.

Marriott Stanton South Beach

Located just a short walk from the center of South Beach, the area that’s known for its nightlife. Far enough away to enjoy some peace and quiet but close enough to partake in the fun when you want to.

Marriott Stanton South Beach

The Room

Stepping through the doors of Stanton you will immediately feel at home with retro prints decorating the walls, beachy vibes and friendly staff. And the rooms? They make that home away from home feeling so much stronger!

Marriott Stanton South Beach

I am a sucker for muted tones. And our room was a minimalist’s paradise. I mean don’t get me wrong I LOVE color but sometimes it’s refreshing to escape to a neutral place when you’re in a place that has so much color. The gray walls and black and white photos contrasted with the bright white comforter and off white headboard screams simple luxury. Um, and let me not forget about the views. Enjoy a city or beach view. We (obviously) preferred the beach view!

Marriott Stanton South Beach

Marriott Stanton South Beach Marriott Stanton South Beach

Marriott Stanton South Beach

I can’t forget about the spa and gym. This is definitely the place for a little R&R before or after a long night out. Opt for the Lava Seashell Massage or Revitalizing Vit C Facial- both are good options for complete rejuvenation.

Dining

I am ridiculously obsessed with breakfast. Nothing gets me out of bed faster than a delicious breakfast spread paired with coffee, orange juice and a smoothie. What can I say, I like to stay hydrated! The breakfast spread at Stanton South Beach did NOT disappoint. Eggs cooked to order, fresh pastries, bagels, waffles (because, carbs), pancakes and fresh fruit are just a few of the many highlights during breakfast here. And the coffee? Delicious! I was really happy because they were able to make my coffee with soy milk. Score.

Marriott Stanton South Beach Marriott Stanton South Beach

The Deco Blue Restaurant & Bar serves American fare with delicious seafood dishes and relaxing ocean views. Poolside? No worries. The Spot has you covered! Order light bites, sandwiches or drinks while lounging in the sun. No need to lift a finger while you’re on vacation!

Marriott Stanton South Beach

It wasn’t the delicious food, epic views or distance to the nightlife in South Beach that got me hooked to this hotel. It was the simple fact that it is beachfront. Yep, door to beach in two minutes or less. It doesn’t get much better than that! Chairs and cabanas are provided making it a luxe beach day to say the least.

Marriott Stanton South Beach

Marriott Stanton South Beach Marriott Stanton South Beach

I’m a wanderer so I enjoyed walking up and down the beach spotting some of the most colorful lifeguard stands and surfers trying to catch a wave or two.

I’ve never seen the Atlantic Ocean through such glittering eyes. Miami definitely casted its spell on me. And I can’t wait to return. I’m all heart eyes for this place.

Marriott Stanton South Beach

I was a welcomed guest of the Marriott Stanton South Beach, as always my opinions are my own.