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  • Where do we fly in and Where can we stay?
    If you're new to SWFL, the nearest regional airport is Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) in Ft. Myers, Florida. (Need round-trip private transportation from the airport? Reserve HERE.) My kayak tours launch from Naples, Isle of Capri, or Marco Island, Florida. Both Naples and Marco Island are home to some world-class beach resorts like the JW Marriott, Hilton, and Marco Beach Ocean Resort. If swank resorts aren't your style or within your budget, here are a few other ideas within a drive-able distance: Marco Island Lakeside Inn - 155 1st Ave., Marco Island, FL 34145 Olde Marco Island Inn & Suites - 100 Palm St, Marco Island, FL 34145 Staybridge Suites Naples-Marco Island - 9401 Triangle Blvd, Naples, FL 34113 Holiday Inn Express - Naples South I-75 - 3837 Tollgate Blvd, Naples, FL 34114 Comfort Inn & Executive Suites - 3860 Tollgate Blvd., Naples, FL 34114 La Quinta Inn & Suites - 185 Bedzel Circle, Naples, FL 34104 Cove Inn on Naples Bay - 900 Broad Ave. S., Naples, FL 34102 Goodland Cottage Vacation Rental - Goodland, FL - email Amanda for more info Check out AirBnb or VRBO listings in Marco Island, Goodland, Isle of Capri, and East Naples
  • What are the Guest Requirements & Recommendations for the Tour?
    To ensure everyone's safety and enjoyment, please take note of the guest requirements and recommendations: 1. Boarding and Disembarking: - Guests should be able to easily step on and off the boat, occasionally climbing ladders for access. - Comfort in the water and basic swimming skills are necessary. 2. Mobility: - Participants should confidently embark and disembark from the boat or kayak with minimal assistance. - A HIGH level of fitness and endurance is recommended. - Participants should be able to hike 1-3 miles, sometimes navigating in shallow, mucky or murky water and oftentimes over challenging tree-filled terrains and soft or sloping sandy terrains. - Be ready to hike in diverse weather conditions and varying landscapes. 3. Health and Fitness: - Guests should be in good health, capable of handling extreme elements like heat, cold, sun (no shade available), rain, humidity, rough terrain, and insects. - For the kayak tour, individual guests over 240 pounds are not permitted, and the combined weight of two guests in a kayak should not exceed 380 pounds. - Given the nature of the tour, individuals with health factors like age, obesity, heart disease, poor circulation, mobility challenges, and severe allergies are advised NOT to book. - The weight limit for boat tour participants is 300 pounds. Exceptions may be considered for individuals in optimal shape and fitness. If unsure, feel free to reach out for clarification. 4. Self-Sufficiency: - While water and snacks are provided, guests should actively stay hydrated and maintain optimal blood sugar levels. 5. Understand How to Stay Safe In Hot Weather: - Shelling on shore in extreme heat poses risks to the body's cooling mechanisms. Factors like individual health conditions can amplify these risks. Here are some essential tips: a. Understand Humidity's Impact: - Humidity slows down the body's natural cooling process. - In humid conditions, sweat doesn't evaporate quickly, increasing the risk of heat-related illnesses. b. Don't Rely Solely on Ocean Breezes: - Coastal breezes might not penetrate a few feet inland, leaving areas hot and humid. c. Dress Smart: - Wear white or light-colored clothing to reflect sunlight. - Choose moisture-wicking materials to keep the skin dry. d. Pace Yourself: - Take breaks and rest frequently to avoid exhaustion. - Pace yourself to give yourself enough time to complete the tour comfortably. e. Know Your Limits: - Acknowledge that all outdoor activities carry risks. - Be mindful of personal limits and avoid pushing beyond them. These guidelines are designed to prioritize your well-being and the overall quality of the tour. If you have any concerns or questions, don't hesitate to get in touch. I look forward to sharing a remarkable shelling experience with you! ​
  • Guided vs. Unguided Boat Tours
    Guided vs. Unguided Boat Tours: Which One is Right for You? SWFL Shell Guide is proud to offer two distinct boat tour experiences to cater to your individual preferences and shelling expertise: Guided and Unguided tours. Here's a breakdown of the key differences: GUIDED BOAT TOURS: Ali will be your personal guide throughout every guided tour. With years of experience and an infectious passion for shelling, she's here to make your tour unforgettable. Ali provides essential shelling tools such as shell bags and rakes (if needed), refreshing waters, and snacks to keep you energized during your adventure. Ali's extensive knowledge ensures an enriching experience. She'll identify shells, share interesting facts, take photos and videos, and share her own finds at the tour's end. UNGUIDED BOAT TOURS: These tours are tailor-made for shelling enthusiasts who are well-acquainted with the rugged terrain of the 10k Islands. If you've explored these shores before, this is your opportunity to roam freely. While Ali isn't on board, our knowledgeable captain will drop you off at one of the 10k Islands' prime shelling locations. With no guide, you're in control. Spend your time shelling at your own pace and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the islands. As these tours are unguided, it's crucial to pack your water, snacks, and any necessary shelling gear. Please be sure you return to the boat promptly so that the Captain can stay on schedule for his next tour. Whichever tour you choose, you're in for an incredible shelling adventure amidst the breathtaking backdrop of the 10k Islands. Come join us and make memories that will last a lifetime!
  • How many other Guests will be on my Tour?
    Private Kayak Tours - one booking secures the tour for 1-3 guests Shared Kayak Tours - up to 8 guests Private Boat Tour - one booking secures the tour for 1-6 guests Shared Boat Tour - minimum and maximum of 6 guests is required The number of available seats remaining to be booked is viewable on the tour schedule/calendar. If you have a very large group (10-12 guests), message me!
  • Is this Tour recommended for Kids?
    Shelling is a fun hobby for people of every age, but this shell tour is best suited for children who are at least 6 years old and are able to pay attention for multiple hours and handle the rough terrain. This tour may not be suitable for younger children or those who may not be able to handle the physical demands of the tour. Ultimately, it is up to the parent or guardian to determine if this tour is appropriate for their child based on their individual abilities and interests. It is always a good idea to consider your child's attention span, physical abilities, and any potential risks or challenges that may be present on the tour before deciding to purchase a seat for them!
  • How Long is the Boating portion of the Tour?
    The boating portion of each tour is approximately: Shelling Tour to 10k Islands: Generally 15 minutes each way Shelling Tour to Keewaydin Island: Generally 30 minutes each way
  • Do you provide life vests?
    Yes! Of course! Type 1 USCG-approved flotation devices are available on the boat, and may be requested to be worn by anyone at any time though are required to be worn by guests 6 years of age and younger.
  • When is the Best Time of Year for a Shelling Tour
    When planning your shelling excursion, it's vital to consider factors influencing your experience. Determining the prime shelling season is intricate. While tours operate year-round, key trends include: - **Weather and Seas:** Spring and fall offer delightful conditions and calmer seas, though shell availability varies. Abundance follows strong winds. - **Avoiding Crowds:** Opt for off-peak periods for serene beaches, lower accommodation costs, and convenient parking. Typically, Mother's Day through Labor Day constitutes the off-season. Winter excels in shelling but faces high demand and possibility of cold snap, while summer features lower demand, easier parking, elevated heat risks, and variable shell abundance tied to winds. - **Shell Abundance:** Winter is favored by seasoned shellers for substantial finds and sizable shell accumulations. - **Wind Storms:** Superb shelling follows strong wind storms, yet predicting these is intricate. - **Tides:** Optimal shelling aligns with full or new moons, emphasizing stronger tides and currents. Winter and summer showcase extreme low tides, offering exceptional shelling opportunities.
  • What Seasonal Conditions should Guests be aware of?
    There are a few seasonal conditions that you should be aware of: Summer: (March - October) Extreme heat and humidity - be sure to stay hydrated and wear sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun Possibility of biting insects, such as noseeums, which are most active at sunrise and sunset Low tides usually occur around sunset, so tours may be later in the day Shelling may be more challenging due to the heat and humidity, and the quantity of shells may be lower than in other seasons Best time to encounter LIVE Lightning Whelks! Shelling in summer months can be hard work. Shelling is usually much slimmer in terms of quantity than in winter months. However, summer shelling can be epic after a good wind storm and before a full moon when the tide is negative! Guests should be prepared to work hard, cover a huge area, or shuffle quite a ways out in the water to uncover shells in summer months. Winter: (November - February) Cold temperatures - dress appropriately in layers to stay warm Possibility of rain and wind - bring a rain jacket or poncho Low tides often occur in the morning, so tours may be earlier in the day Shelling may be more plentiful due to the lower tides, but the water may be colder and the waves may be rougher Best time to encounter LIVE Horse Conchs! Shelling in winter months tends to be easier pickins! New shells roll in almost daily and most especially after a storm or cold front! Shell hauls are huge and amazing and will bring a tear to your eye! Shells collected in winter months are freshly deposited and easy to pluck right off the top of a pile. Guests may encounter plenty of deceased mollusks which may smell quite putrid. This is not for the faint of heart! Spring: (March - May) Weather may be cooler and wetter in the early spring, and then warmer and more humid as the season progresses Low tides may occur in the morning or afternoon, depending on the moon's phase Shelling may be good after storms when the waves have had a chance to toss shells onto the beach Fall: (September - November) Cooler temperatures and lower humidity Hurricane season - keep an eye on the weather forecast and be prepared for the possibility of storms Low tides may occur in the morning or afternoon, depending on the moon's phase Shelling may be good after storms when the waves have had a chance to toss shells onto the beach.
  • Are the Shells found in the water or on the shore?
    The shells can be found in various areas throughout the year and depending on the tides. Sometimes we walk along the shoreline, sometimes there are multiple wrack lines to search. Sometimes we poke around tidal pools, sometimes we hike thru spongey shoreline muck, sometimes we are shelling way up in the mangrove forest! Other times we wade in knee-deep water looking for big shells, sometimes we go waist-deep - optional of course! The shell spots and terrain change SO fast and every change in tide and wind direction makes for a different shellventure! Scoopers are not necessary although you're welcome to bring your preferred tools of the trade! Digging instruments can sometimes be useful when the shell piles are rather large!
  • Which is Better Shelling - Sunrise or Sunset Tours?
    Tours launch at either 6:45am (Sunrise) or 3pm/4pm (Sunset), and each has its pros! Both sunrise and sunset tours have their pros, and ultimately the decision of which one to take will depend on your personal preferences and schedule. If you enjoy getting up early and watching the sunrise, then a sunrise tour might be a good option for you. On the other hand, if you prefer to sleep in and enjoy the sunset, then a sunset tour might be a better choice. It's also worth considering the temperature and weather conditions, as well as the season, when deciding which tour to take. In the summer, for example, a sunset tour might be cooler and more comfortable, while in the winter, a sunrise tour might be the only option due to low tides occurring early in the morning. Ultimately, both tours offer the opportunity to experience the beauty of the coast and the thrill of shell collecting, so it's up to you to decide which one is the best fit for you. Below are some generalities for you to consider! Pros of Sunrise Tours: - Early bird gets the worm! Or, in this case, first ones to the shelling spot tend to get the best shells! - No problem finding parking as you'll be among the first ones in the park! - Those sunrise views! - Our tour is done in the cooler hours of the day before the heat index fully escalates! - In Winter months, sunrise tours are our only option. And low tides in winter months occur very early in the morning. So, we get there and make a mad grab for shells right away because the water level will be rising on us the whole tour. Pros of Sunset Tours: - Sometimes, last one standing gets the best shells! - Parking stress is a bit alleviated this late in the day as most tours and charters have returned or will soon be returning! - Our tour is done in the cooler hours of the day, and the evening sea breeze is oh so nice! - Those sunset silhouette shots! - In Summer months, negative low tides usually occur near sunset time! So, we get there when the water level is kinda high but it rapidly goes out the whole tour - so that by the end the best shells might be revealed right before our eyes! Please message me your travel dates ahead of booking if you wish for me to advise you which date(s) have the more favorable tides!
  • I forgot to bring Cash for a Tip, is there an ATM?
    Tips are NEVER expected, but always appreciated! There is no ATM at the marina, but if you feel led to tip your guide, the venmo is @swflshellguide-ali Feel free to scan below:
  • What is the Cancellation Policy?
    Cancellations made by the guide due to severe weather conditions, lightning, unnavigable waters, or any other unforeseen event will receive a full refund. Guests may request a full refund for cancellations made at least seven (7) days prior to the scheduled tour date. Cancellation requests made by guests for any reason, including illness, COVID, travel, etc., outside of the 7-day refund period will result in the forfeiture of the entire payment. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but we are unable to fill reserved spots with such short notice. Tours are scheduled to launch on time. Guests are required to check in with the guide at the boat ramp 15 minutes prior to the scheduled launch time. If guests do not arrive on time or do not request a reschedule within the allowable timeframe, they will not be eligible for a refund or raincheck. Please note that this tour is a rain or shine activity and shelling is safe and fun in the rain. However, refunds or rainchecks are not given for windy, wet, hot, or cold weather. Guests should also be aware of the weight limit policy: for kayaking - a single solo rider should not weigh more than 240 pounds, and the combined weight of a party of two riders cannot exceed 380 pounds; for boating there is an individual 300 pound weight limit. Failure to comply with this policy may result in the cancellation of the tour without a refund.
  • May I bring my Dog on Tour?
    While I understand your desire to include your furry friend on the tour, I regret to inform you that my current policy does not allow for pets, including dogs, to accompany participants on our tours. There are several reasons for this decision: 1. Leash Laws: The islands where our tours take place have implemented strict leash laws to ensure the safety of both wildlife and visitors. Bringing a dog along could potentially disrupt the local ecosystem and endanger wildlife. 2. Lack of Dog Waste Stations: The islands do not provide adequate facilities for dog waste disposal. Ensuring a clean and sanitary environment for all participants is essential, and without proper waste stations, this becomes a challenge. 3. Extreme Conditions: The tours often involve spending extended periods outdoors in varying weather conditions. The heat can be particularly intense, not only for humans but also for dogs. Extended exposure to the sun without shade, especially in rugged terrains, can pose health risks to dogs. 4. Safety and Comfort: The safety and comfort of all tour participants are of utmost importance to us. Some tours require walking for extended periods or navigating uneven terrain, which might not be suitable for dogs. Additionally, some participants might have allergies, fears, or sensitivities to dogs, which could impact their experience. Taking all these factors into consideration, I highly recommend leaving your beloved canine companion at home during the tour. This decision is aimed at ensuring the well-being of all participants, maintaining the integrity of the natural environment, and providing the best experience for everyone involved. I appreciate your understanding and cooperation in this matter.
  • What if I have a severe peanut allergy?
    Liability and Allergen Disclaimer: SWFL Shell Guide makes every effort to provide a welcoming experience for guests of all ages and abilities. However, on Shared Tours, we cannot guarantee a peanut-free environment. Furthermore, we are unable to enforce restrictions on other guests' snack choices during Shared Tours. It is essential to be aware that our tours and associated activities may inherently include exposure to allergens, such as peanuts. We strongly advise guests with peanut allergies to exercise their discretion and take necessary precautions to ensure their safety. This disclaimer is intended to convey that SWFL Shell Guide shall not be held responsible for potential allergen exposure, including peanuts. Guests with peanut allergies are urged to exercise caution and make well-informed decisions regarding their participation. Private tours offer an alternative where you have full control over the tour's environment, reducing the risk of allergen exposure from other guests.
  • Tell me about Keewaydin Island!
    Keewaydin Island is a barrier island located off the coast of Naples, Florida. The island is approximately eight miles long and is only accessible by boat (or kayak!). The name "Keewaydin" is derived from the Ojibwe language and means "north wind." The island was originally inhabited by the Calusa Native American tribe, who were known for their seafaring skills and extensive trade networks. Spanish explorers also visited the area in the 16th century, but it wasn't until the 1800s that European settlers began to establish permanent communities in the region. During the early 20th century, Keewaydin Island was a popular destination for wealthy tourists and winter residents. Many of the island's current homes and estates date back to this period. In the 1960s, a developer attempted to build a causeway connecting Keewaydin Island to the mainland, but the project was ultimately abandoned due to environmental concerns. Today, Keewaydin Island is home to a small number of year-round residents and is primarily known for its unspoiled beaches and natural beauty. The island is also a popular destination for boating, fishing, and other outdoor activities. On the way to Keewaydin you'll notice some exquisite Naples Port Royal estate homes on the water. Naples' Port Royal neighborhood is a prestigious waterfront community known for its luxurious homes and high-profile residents. Here are some notable home owners in Port Royal: Tom Golisano: The billionaire founder of Paychex, a payroll and human resources company, owns a massive estate in Port Royal. The property features a 20,000-square-foot main house, a guest house, and a boat house. Mike Ilitch: The late owner of the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings owned a waterfront mansion in Port Royal. The property featured over 22,000 square feet of living space, a private beach, and a boathouse. David and Julia Uihlein: The Uihleins are a wealthy Wisconsin family who own a sprawling estate in Port Royal. The property features a 20,000-square-foot mansion, a private beach, and a dock. Norman and Irma Braman: The Bramans are art collectors and philanthropists who own a waterfront home in Port Royal. The property features a contemporary design, a pool, and a private dock. Craig and Kathryn Hall: The Halls are vintners and philanthropists who own a beachfront home in Port Royal. The property features a Mediterranean-style design, a pool, and a boat dock. Frank and Lois Deluca: The late founder of the Subway restaurant chain and his wife owned a waterfront home in Port Royal. The property featured a unique design that blended modern and traditional styles. These are just a few of the notable homeowners in Port Royal, which is known for attracting affluent and influential residents from around the world.
  • Tell me about Kice Island (10k Islands)!
    Kice Island is located in the Ten Thousand Islands, a chain of islands and mangrove islets located off the coast of southwest Florida. The history of Kice Island dates back to the early 1900s, when the area was primarily used for fishing and trapping. In the early 1900s, Barron Collier began purchasing large tracts of land in southwest Florida, including much of the land that makes up the Ten Thousand Islands. Collier was instrumental in the development of the region, building roads, bridges, and other infrastructure that helped to open up the area to settlement and commerce. In the 1920s, Collier entered into negotiations with the federal government to exchange some of his land in the Ten Thousand Islands for Indian reservation land in Arizona. The proposed exchange involved approximately 100,000 acres of land in the Ten Thousand Islands, as well as an additional 100,000 acres of land in Collier County. The exchange was controversial at the time, with some critics arguing that it would lead to the displacement of Native American communities in Arizona. However, the exchange ultimately went forward, and in 1922, the federal government took possession of the land in the Ten Thousand Islands. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Kice Island was a hub of activity for commercial fishermen and sportsmen who visited the area to fish for tarpon, snook, and other game fish. Nearby Marco island at the time was also home to a number of families who worked in the fishing industry and relied on the sea for their livelihoods. In the mid-20th century, the fishing industry in the Ten Thousand Islands began to decline due to overfishing and changes in environmental regulations. Many of the commercial fish camps in the area were abandoned or fell into disrepair. Today, much of the land in the Ten Thousand Islands is protected as part of the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, which was established in 1996. The refuge includes more than 35,000 acres of mangrove forests, marshes, and other wetlands, and is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including dolphins, manatees, and a variety of bird species. Kice Island is now primarily used for recreational activities such as boating, fishing, and kayaking. The island is accessible only by boat and remains largely undeveloped, with much of its natural beauty and wildlife still intact. Kice Island is a protected area and is part of the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Visitors to the island are asked to respect the natural environment and to avoid disturbing any wildlife or plants they encounter.
  • What are some other fun things to do in the area?
    I'm glad you asked! While you're in SWFL check out my recommended experiences HERE. Then, in no particular order of preference, check out some other local attractions: Tigertail Beach Park Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center Corey Billie's Airboat Rides Lowdermilk Beach Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens Naples Pier Naples Botanical Garden Shopping & Dining on 5th Ave S & 3rd St S Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Delnor Wiggins Pass State Park Koreshan State Historic Park Ted Smallwood Store Ochopee Post Office Clyde Butcher's Big Cypress Gallery Everglades National Park Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum Edison and Ford Winter Estates J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium Manatee Park Babcock Ranch Eco Tours Shark Tooth Hunting at Manasota Key
  • What's with all the panther crossing signs?
    Panther Crossing signs are located throughout Naples, Florida to remind drivers of the presence of Florida panthers in the area. These large cats, which can weigh up to 140 pounds and are native to the southeastern United States, are listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. With a population estimated at only 230 individuals, it is important to protect and preserve these panthers for the health of the ecosystem and the future of the species. Tracking data has shown that the remaining panthers in the area tend to travel in or near the lands owned by the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, which is a popular destination for tourists. If you are driving through the reserve, be on the lookout for Panther Crossing signs and be sure to drive with caution. While it would be a rare and special event to spot a panther, it is also important to avoid any incidents that could be harmful to these endangered animals. Please drive carefully to help protect the Florida panther population.
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