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Shelling and tide questions - 1st time to Marco

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kc
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Shelling and tide questions - 1st time to Marco

Hello everyone,

I love shelling and look forward to my 1st trip to Marco sometime either end of April or beginning of May. I live in Miami; it will be 2 hours drive to there. A couple questions:

1) Where are the best spots for shelling? What gears do you need for shelling? Besides plastic grocery bags, lol.

2) From my research, the best time is low tide, is that certain time of the day, like morning or eve? or certain time of the month, like full moon or new moon?

3) I plan to stay south of Naple to save some money, and take the half hour drive to the island (heard a lot about the sunset), unless there are some hotel like extended stay, La quinta on the island. Open to hotel recommendations. There is a $8 charge for parking? Any place you could park for free?

Thanks for your input!

Westerville, Ohio
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1. Re: Shelling and tide questions - 1st time to Marco

If shelling is your mission and you are not staying on Marco, take the extra time and drive up to Sanibel, the west coast most famous shelling destination.

Marco is a beautiful beach and fine vacation destination, but better shelling is nearby.

You can research tide charts on line. Google Sanibel tides and you'll have multiple resources. Tide times change each day. You will need to check for each day.

North Wales...
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2. Re: Shelling and tide questions - 1st time to Marco

Is shelling still decent on Marco? We will be there also end of April / beginning May & after driving down from PA we were hoping to not leave the island much, but the kids are excited for the shells...

Thanks!

Knoxville
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3. Re: Shelling and tide questions - 1st time to Marco

Ohhh yeah, shelling is fantastic on Marco! It is not exactly my thing, but we will occasionally go shelling while on the island and have tremendous success, both in quantity and quality. You should be pleased!

Chicago
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4. Re: Shelling and tide questions - 1st time to Marco

I can't speak to the best shelling locations on Marco, as my experience has been on Sanibel.

Your research is correct; the best time to shell is at low tide. Once you find a tide chart for your location, you should go out about an hour before low tide. Your kids should have a blast discovering sea creatures in the mini-tide pools left behind during low tide!! I'm not sure what the rules are on Marco, but on Sanibel, you are prohibited from taking any live shells, including sand dollars. In addition, shelling as early as possible in the morning gives you first dibs on any shells that may have rolled onto the beach overnight. The closer you stay to the beach, the easier it is for you to get up and at 'em!

Regarding equipment, I prefer to use a mesh bag to collect shells, since plastic bags can be damaging to the wildlife if they happen to slip away from you in the waves. I get a small lingerie bag from Walmart for a dollar or two and the holes allow the water and sand to drain out while keeping the shells inside. You might want to put a small Ziploc-type baggie inside to hold the smaller shells.

If low tide falls at night or early morning and you want to shell, you'll need a flashlight. We use inexpensive headlamps with elastic bands, so that both hands could be free to grabs shells in the water. Turtle nesting season begins in May, so if you visit during this time and want to shell in the dark, you will need to make sure that your flashlights have a red filter on them, so you don't confuse/disturb the turtles.

A small shovel and mask would be helpful if you want to dig for shells in the sand underneath the water. A small sifter would be helpful in sorting through the sandy shell piles that wash up on the beach.

Enjoy your time there! I'm counting down the days until my family and I are shelling on Sanibel in June!

Over the Atlantic
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5. Re: Shelling and tide questions - 1st time to Marco

All of Marco is generally good (though not as good as Sanibel). Best is along the Tigertail beach on the north end and out on to the spit. If you're squeamish about European beachwear or lack of it you may want to keep your eyes focused on the shells and not the beach area or clearings in the bushes.

Wisconsin
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6. Re: Shelling and tide questions - 1st time to Marco

I am on the island now. Shelling has been fabulous. It is hard to imagine finding a better shelling experience than what we have found here.

Knoxville
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7. Re: Shelling and tide questions - 1st time to Marco

Okay, I know this has nothing to do with shelling, but Quincy: We spend our summers (1 - 2 months each summer for the past 6 years) on Marco and I have never noticed any inappropriate swimwear! You have me curious . . . is it mainly restricted to Tigertail? We spend MOST of our time on South Marco and rarely get to Tigertail. Please tell!

Over the Atlantic
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8. Re: Shelling and tide questions - 1st time to Marco

It is occasionally, and just on Tigertail that I know of. We walk up to the spit every afternoon. Some years don't notice anything, some years a few folks that some in the US might find offensive. A couple of years ago there was a big bruhaha when several families from somewhere in Europe were there and none of the kids were wearing anything (I'm guessing all were under 12 or 13). Occasionally some topless women and once some teens in what they thought was a secluded spot.

I wouldn't let it put you off unless you're extremely sensitive to this kind of stuff.

Knoxville
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9. Re: Shelling and tide questions - 1st time to Marco

Wow! I have never seen anything like that on Marco (Ft. Lauderdale . . . YES). I'm glad you mentioned it - I can just see me walking up on "some teenagers" (I can only imagine what I'd see) without warning!!!

Florida
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10. Re: Shelling and tide questions - 1st time to Marco

I would definitely recommend shelling on Marco and the earlier the better. Low tide and early in the morning are best, that way the shells haven't been stomped upon or already collected. Some of the best places are reached by boat from Marco. I have found some of the best shells early in the morning on Cape Romano and Keewaydin, but these places are only accessible by boat. Have fun!