Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My life is like a stroll on the beach... as near to the edge as I can go. - Thoreau

The shells stretch for miles on Tigertail Beach

As an avid sheller I have a bucket list of places I would like to visit. Some of my shelling dreams like Costa Rica or Belize will require some planning but closer to home I can now cross Marco Island off my bucket list of places to go  shelling. 

The shelling epicenter of Florida is Sanibel Island.  One of the fault lines runs about about 40 miles south to Marco Island.  Tuesday morning about 4am I loaded up the truck and my niece Shweekie & I headed to Tigertail Beach on Marco Island. 

We intentionally arrived on Marco Island before dawn to go shelling on the beach with our flashlights. It was an early minus 1.10 foot low tide. That is a good thing for those of you that don't know.  What we discovered is that there are 2 beaches  open to the public on Marco Island but parking is limited. You can frequent any beach you like after they open the gates at 8am.  Until the park opens there is no where to park unless you stay in a hotel or risk a pricey parking ticket.

 The nice lady at the 7/11 let me park in their lot.  We walked across the road to the Hilton which is smack dab on the beach. Back in the day I had a knack for sneaking into hotel pools on Clearwater Beach so I have some skills.  No go. No way to sneak through to the beach anywhere. Dang elitist condo owners with their fences.

 We drove to the north end of Marco Island to Tigertail Beach which to my surprise had opened the entrance gate early.  I stopped at the parking meter and paid my $8.00 for the entire days parking and got the first spot in the parking lot.  We loaded up my new beach cart for her maiden voyage and off Shweekie & I went to experience the joys of Marco Island shelling.
I love my new beach cart

 I knew from my online scouting of Tigertail Beach that before you got to the beach there is a little lagoon that has to be crossed.  So we made a final pitstop at the facilities because there are no potties on the beach and headed for the lagoon. After donning our aqua shoes and securing our gear in the beach cart Shweekie got the front of the cart and I got the back and we hoisted that baby over our heads and started the 100 foot slog through the muddy lagoon.  The water was cold and we were laughing. Surely this amount of effort will be rewarded.
Following the buoys will keep you in about 3 feet of water

Perfect way to start a good shelling day with a stunningly beautiful sunrise
The sunrise has the beach glowing pink

So over the lagoon and through the woods to Tigertail Beach we go. It is worth the effort to get out there. The beach is about as good as it gets with pearly white sand and long expanse of beach running north & south. We stood catching our breath and scoping out the terrain to decide which way to go. The vote was unanimous to head north. Of course we immediately started looking down for shells.  There was a smattering of shells here & there but not the shell mountains I had envisioned.
Shweekie attacking her first shell pile of the day

 As Shweekie dug through a piddly shell pile I looked along the surf line.  Lots of common arks & cockles - all pretty shells but where are the goodies? I noticed a couple walking past that were obviously serious shellers - at least they were decked out with the net and bags of people who have shelled before.  They were not looking down but walking fast toward the north  end of the beach. OK, we're following them. And that's where the shells were.  2 miles at the very north of Tigertail is where we finally ended up and we were not disappointed.
Low tide at it's finest

Lots of sand dollars to be found and whelks too.

Using her Susick Sea Shell Sifter - the official sifter of all Shell Sistahs 
The sweet smile of a great shelling day

Sea Stars were everywhere
The prize of the day - Rose Petal Tellin - I found a dozen
It was a long walk out and back - about 4 miles total but Tigertail is all that and a bag of shells.  The walk although long was filled with beautiful scenery full of sea birds of every kind, the lagoon to one side and the beautiful gulf the the other, & and lots of native Florida plant life.  

Shells do grow on trees at Tigertail Beach
The lagoon side  is a bird sanctuary


  1. Wow, I would be in shell heaven on this beach! You found quite a haul! Sounds like you had a great day! I've found lots of sunrise tellin's before in St. Croix.. I've never heard of the rose petal tellin. It's gorgeous!

  2. ok.. can i admit that i am so so jealous!!!!?

  3. A handful of rose tellins would make my day, and any day I find an alphabet cone is a very good day, indeed! Lucky you!

  4. OMG!!! I love this post. Great photos and shells. I have to place this Island on my todo list. I love your new header, too and the Englewood Beach photo-I was there yesterday. We are in Rotunda right now.

  5. Since I spoke with you last night I've been envisioning you gals walking across that lagoon with your beach cart above your heads! I wish I had a picture of that move, lol.

    I'm drooling over all the pinkies, you know I love them so much. Looks like another great day at the beach. But, of course, not all of us have to go to the beach to find us some nice shells!

  6. Wow. Wow...that's all I can say is Wow. ok. I have a million questions...what kinda shell bag do I need? Where can I get one of those lil sheller shovel drain thingys? and how do you walk thru those shells barefoot? guess I need to talk to rhonda about that....I have bad feet too. I am absolutely gonna die when I see all those shells!!
    And I can tell ya...Belize ain't got nuthin' on your place!!

  7. What a wonderful day that must have been with such beautiful scenery. Glad you had good luck!

  8. Thanks for bringing us to the party! Happy Birthday :)
    Here is my gift to you:

  9. Wow! I have the same questions as jmac...where do I find all this stuff? I haven't even found a beach least when I went looking for one. I cannot wait to go shelling with you and Rhonda one of these days!!! There's so much to learn!

  10. Happy Belated Birthday! From reading the last couple of posts, it certainly looks and sounds like you had a great time celebrating it! Fabulous pictures and what great shells you found!

    ~ Tracy

    BTW - I like your new blog layout.

  11. What a GREAT day!! I would love to spend a day shelling:):)

  12. Happy Birthday!! What a wonderful way to spend your special day. I enjoyed watching the video too. I've never seen anything like that on the beaches here in So. Cal.
    Have a wonderful weekend!

  13. First of all, your new header is fabulous! That cracks me up when I picture you girls hauling your new wonder wagon through the trails... the essentials for the Essential Beachcomber. Looks like you got a nice haul- huge moon snail! And the wormie! Happy Birthday!!!!! Keep shellebrating!

  14. I just found your blog through a link from Blue Creek Home. I know that I spent an hour already just reading everything and looking at all of your beautiful shells. I live on the Outer Banks and I try to shell as often as possible, but rarely do any good shells wash up on our beaches. We just get bits and pieces of broken shells. I would be in shell-heaven if I lived near you!

  15. so so so envious of these pictures!!!! I have to come shelling in FL ASAP! and I shop like you said look for shells. I am always one step ahead of my friends so that I see it first, haha


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