Ready to pedal kayak, shell, revel in the sun, maybe go for a swim?! Let's go Shelling! We'll either go to sand flats (usually the best choice for summertime low tides) or to Kice Island (usually best in the winter months). Kice is an uninhabited island, part of the Ten Thousand Islands Wildlife Refuge! While the sand flats are just that, an expansive flat sandy terrain, usually only accessible during low tides, Kice's terrain is unique. Kice is more "dangerous" in that it is very rugged and thick with tree roots, stumps, mucky peat, and shells. Both areas contain many shell species where you are free to collect as many empty (unoccupied) shells as you can carry!
I will determine our shelling destination based on the season, tides, time of day, and recent shelling history to ensure your shelling experience is the best it can be!
From the launch, the kayak ride to our shelling destination is usually 30 minutes or less! The Hobies in my fleet are all tandem (2-seaters) and each is a pedal boat kayak (sit-on-top model). As long as 1 guest in each kayak is able to pedal with their feet (think stair-master back-forth motion), then the other guest does not necessarily have to pedal or exert any effort if they choose not to!
The backwaters stay relatively calm and flat year-round - as the barrier islands protect us. Our backwater path to shelling should be calm!
I have hand-picked each of my available tour dates and times to account for the tides, currents, and optimal shelling. It is much easier to pedal WITH the current than against it!
Unless otherwise agreed, all tours launch from the boat ramp at Caxambas Park - 909 Collier Court, Marco Island, Florida, 34145.
The Park opens at 7am, and during Season (November - April) there is usually a line of cars waiting to get in. Parking is free but spaces are EXTREMELY limited - there are now only (9) NINE total spaces for cars!! Therefore, if you have booked my 7:30am tour, be sure to be in line by 6:45am. If you are not lucky enough to get one of the nine spaces, here are a few other options:
South Beach Parking Lot - 930 Swallow Avenue, Marco Island. Parking fee is $8/day, pay at the self-pay credit card machine. This lot has 60 parking spaces, restroom access, and a foot shower. This lot opens at 7am and closes at sunset. Walk the two blocks to Caxambas (0.6 miles away).
Turtle Lot Parking - 711 South Collier Blvd., Marco Island. Parking fee is unknown at this time, but it is a flat daily rate. There are 80 parking spaces in this Lot. You will most likely need to catch a ride to Caxambas from here (1.8 miles away).
Tigertail Beach - 480 Hernando Drive, Marco Island. This is a County Park that opens at 8am daily. Parking fee is $8/day. Restrooms and foot showers available. You will need to catch a ride to Caxambas from this here (4.1 miles away).
Frank E. Mackle Park - 1361 Andalusia Terrace, Marco Island. This is a City Park and opens at Dawn every day. No charge for parking. You will need to catch a ride to Caxambas from here (2.8 miles away).
Please allow extra travel time during Season (November - April) as traffic to the island builds during the day, and parking spots become a rare commodity!
There are restrooms at the Caxambas launch site, but no showers. There is also the Ship Store in case you need any last-minute purchases of sunscreen, sunglasses, snacks, etc.! Restrooms and Ship Store close at 5pm.
Please check-in with Guide 15 minutes prior to your scheduled launch time!
WHAT TO BRING
SUNSCREEN / SUNGLASSES / HAT
CLOSE-TOED WATER SHOES
UMBRELLA / PARASOL - for shade!
YOUR PERSONAL SHELLING TOOL(S) OF THE TRADE
Be sure to wear close-toed water shoes or old sneakers or rubber boots! The terrain may be rough and rugged if we're headed to Kice Island. Even if we're headed to the sand flats there are still several sharp shells and objects you don't want to step on barefooted! Kice is not your typical white sandy beachfront; it's teeming with tree roots and stumps, and sometimes slimy slippery muck! I sometimes use my feet to dig and turn over shell piles - so footwear is important!
There's no shade from the blazing sun on the kayaks or on the island or sand flats! Be sure to bring sun protection: lotion, cream, sunglasses, hats, even an umbrella to create your own shade if needed - whatever you use!
Of course, feel free to bring your own desired food and beverages.
No tools are really necessary, but you're free to bring your favorite or preferred shelling tools: scoopers, diggers, snorkels, goggles, walking sticks, etc! I do provide dollar store hand rakes to each guests if there are any piles to dig! I also provide small plastic boxes to hold fragile finds such as sand dollars, urchins, crab carapaces, etc.
WHAT YOUR GUIDE PROVIDES
TRAIL MIX SNACKS
SOUVENIR WATERPROOF CELL PHONE POUCH
SOUVENIR SHELLING BAG
PLASTIC BOX TO HOLD FRAGILE FINDS (SAND DOLLARS)
HAND RAKE (IF THERE ARE SHELL PILES TO DIG)
BUG SPRAY (IF NEEDED)
SHELL ID CARD
LINK TO DOWNLOAD SNAPSHOTS
I'm happy to provide water bottles and snacks (trail mix) for each guest.
Each guest will also receive a complimentary custom-designed (by yours truly) shell bag, which we will set to work filling with seashell treasures (collecting only empty shells, of course)! If you're lucky enough to book a tour when there are piles of shells (as opposed to smatterings), I provide a hand rake for your use in raking thru the piles.
Should you collect fragile beach finds (sand dollars, urchins, crab carapaces) I have plastic boxes to keep them separate (and hopefully safe) from the shells.
I'll also have some insect repellent on hand, usually necessary during very early morning or near-sunset evening times of day during Spring and Summer months!
You will also receive a souvenir waterproof cell phone/keys pouch to keep them safe and dry while kayaking.
Remind me after the tour to give you the Seashell ID Card (also designed by yours truly!) as a keepsake!
Usually within 1-2 days after the tour you will receive an email with a link to a google album containing your tour snapshots for your scrapbook! Jump Shots are kinda my schtick, so... save a bit of energy to get a few feet of air!