Sand Dollar Shelling, although located 50 minutes from Sanibel Island, enjoys nearly 40 people weekly that trek down from Sanibel Island to shell in the 10,000 Islands. Although not as popular as Sanibel, the 10,000 Islands produce many more shells such as the Junonia and alphabet cones for several reasons. Sanibel Island is long known for its fantastic shelling basically because its the only island that sits perpendicular to the state of Florida. It does not run the same way up and down as the state, rather ocean currents slide up the state and Sanibel catches the shells.
The Downside To Shelling on Sanibel Island
The downfall is Sanibel Island shelling is a “drive-up” beach, meaning that any vacationer that travels from the north by car can drive up and compete with you for the best shells. Not so in the 10,000 Islands. First off, the 10,000 Islands need a boat to take you, so it’s accessible only by boat and you need a well-versed guide and boat captain to know where to go. There is a little bit of science as to why many of our customers say “the shelling is just not that good in the Summertime on Sanibel,” there is a reason for that.
To begin with, during the Summer months the moon is far away from the Earth so the gravitational pull of the tides is not drastic at all, in contrast, the Winter months, in general, have higher and lower tides. Further, there is a much more devastating reason why the shelling is subpar during the Summer months, its not so much that shellings are dying less, there’s not a season to shell. Keep that in mind. The issue is more environmental.
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Imagine this, the state of Florida is tipped twenty-four inches, Naples is two feet lower than Miami. The Atlantic ocean flow goes into the St. Luce river then past an old antiquated dam into Lake Okeechobee, then past another old antiquated dam out the Caloosahatchee River near Sanibel island. Lake Okeechobee is surrounded by millions of acres of sugar cane. The sugar companies fertilize the fields which basically is phosphates, realize that during the Summer months when it rains nearly every day in the state of Florida, the runoff from the sugar fields will go directly into the lake. This creates our red tide issues. When the lake levels rise, and are creating dangerous pressures in the dams, because of the natural flow in the gulf the flood gates are opened.
When the flood gates are opened, the water appears to have a root beer color and smell. What is dumped into the ocean is an extremely fine powder similar to baby powder; this in turn blankets the seafloor and puts weight on top of the shells preventing them from washing up. So in effect, its not that you have less shells to pick from, the shells are still there in the same amounts, they are only covered preventing them from being accessible from beach walkers.
We do not have this problem in the 10,000 Islands, our shelling is fantastic every day of the year. We have less foot traffic and have no environmental issues that prevent fantastic shelling. Our location and good quality service along with the success of our customers have made Sand Dollar Shelling the premiere shelling company in the state of Florida which in turn sparked several episodes for the Travel channel specifically on shelling. Sand Dollar Shelling operates 7 days a week, with several boats departing 3 times a day. Which leads to the next question, when is the best time to go? Obviously, in the winter months, a lower tide is going to produce more areas in which to search, however, based on customer success early morning during the Summer months will offer much less strenuous conditions and fatigue on beach walkers. For older people and smaller children, we recommend the earlier trips for much cooler temperatures. That’s not as important during the winter months.
All of Sand Dollar Shelling’s boats are captained by U.S coast guard captains trained in first aid and boat safety. All of Sand Dollar Shelling’s boats are brand new, state-of-the-art, and flat bottom boats for safely traveling in shallow water. Each boat has a sample box as to provide an education even before you hit the beach. This trip is designed for any and all ages as you do not have to get into the water unless you want to. We provide coolers with ice and bottled water and suggest that you bring food or snacks for nourishment. In addition, Sand Dollar Shelling is the only company that provides free shelling buckets to fill and keep so you do not have to worry about your shells whatsoever.
We depart Marco Island at 8 AM, 11:30 AM, and 3:00 PM. Although we are 100% a shelling company, we do a wild dolphin experience on the way to the islands that will leave you breathless and has us voted the #1 boat tour company in the state of Florida by the Florida state tourism council. Book your trip today, the best time to call is usually evenings as daylight hours usually have us out of cell range.