Sunrise at the Lighthouse

Sunrise at the Sanibel Lighthouse.
Sunrise at the Sanibel Lighthouse.

You’ve got to get up awfully early if you want to be the first one on the beach. The sun wasn’t even up and look at the people wading in the water at the Sanibel Lighthouse!

It’s always worth waking up for if only for the view, but the shells are nice, too.

whelk and olive

Whelk and olive  – both were empty!

True tulip and more
True tulip and more

Shelling in Key West


sea urchin

I’ve never had luck shelling in Key West. The beaches are not what people think in the Keys (they are crushed coral so the ‘sand’ feels like rough like cat litter). Most seashells break up over the reef before making it to shore, although there are definitely exceptions. To shell in the Keys, you really need to get in the water and snorkel.

Anyhow, I was staying at the Sunset Key Cottages and went for a beach walk on their private beach each evening. I found my first keeper – a green sea urchin (empty of course). Kinda cool! I love its color and it actually made it home with me, unbroken.

If you’re looking for luxury accommodations in Key West, Sunset Key Cottages are fantastic. It’s a private island right off Mallory Square and the only way you can get there is by ferry, but you must be staying there or dining at their restaurant. Worth it.


Blogging for ‘Tween Waters Inn on Captiva


Hey Shellers,

I have some cool news to tell you about. I’ve been asked to be a blogger for ‘Tween Waters Inn on Captiva Island. This is right up my alley as I formerly worked for VISIT FLORIDA as their family travel expert and I currently write for Fodor’s Travel as well.

You can find my monthly blog at their website: Scroll down their homepage till you see the where it says “INSIDERS.”

I’ll be writing about all the things you can do at ‘Tween Waters Inn with your family, and around the island. Whether you’re staying onsite or not, their onsite restaurants are worth paying a visit. My kids love the crab races that take place Mondays and Thursdays at the Crow’s Nest. Maybe we’ll see you there!


Rainbows and Pelicans


It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, shellers! Check out that pretty glimpse of a rainbow in the clouds. Makes my day. And look at that calm water!

three pelicans

Then, as if on queue, three pelicans flew over (well, under) the rainbow! Just had to share this small slice of paradise.


Here are a few of my finds…now, go to shell!

Fighting Conchs Everywhere

sunrise at Gulfside

This morning on Sanibel, I took a walk by Gulfside Park and there were fighting conchs everywhere. A little before 7am, I had the beach to myself so I picked up a few that were empty. I have to tell you, I could have picked up buckets of them. I just don’t need buckets of empty fighting conchs!

I kept several shells this morning for my sister. She’s a teacher and uses seashells as a reward for her students. They love them! She says the kids will actually listen and pay attention when they know a seashell is coming their way for good behavior. I love that.

fighting conchs_2


Beach Lightning

beach lightning

Well, I got up early before the sun to do a little shelling, but when I got to the beach, this is what I saw – lightning in the sky. Eeek!  I sat and watched for a few minutes before I determined it was not safe to continue. The sky lit up like crazy, over and over again. I’ve always heard, if you can hear thunder, you are in striking distance of lightning. So, I went back home (to the resort)! I’ll be back later.

Anne’s Beach, Islamorada

Anne's Beach Islamorada
Anne’s Beach Islamorada

If you’re looking for an OK beach in the Florida Keys, Anne’s Beach in Islamorada (or Lower Matecumbe) might be what you’re looking for. It’s at mile marker 73 on the oceanside, and there is a little parking at either entrance. If you pass the first entrance as you’re heading south, there is another entrance 1/4 mile on the same side.

annes beach

I have found a few tulips here and some augers and turbins. Nothing spectacular but it’s pretty and it’s fun. There is a boardwalk that will take you from one parking lot to the other through the mangroves. There are picnic tables and facilities. The water is shallow and goes out a good ways before it will get deep. Many shells have crabs in them here. They hang out by the mangroves.

Florida Keys Wild Bird Center

Wild Bird Center
Wild Bird Center

I live very close to Key Largo so we head that way quite frequently. My favorite place to stop and visit is the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center in Tavernier.

While I wade in the shallow waters at the Bird Center looking for shells, my eldest is usually fishing or spearfishing further south in Islamorada. It’s a good trade off, I get to hunt for shells and he usually brings home dinner. Good boy!

dusty with fish




No Shells, But Mahi’s On The Menu

mahi fishing

Finally made it back to the east coast and the boys went fishing off Islamorada. That’s a dolphin fish (also known as a MAHI MAHI). Locals have pretty much stopped calling it ‘dolphin fish’ since everyone thinks you’re talking about the dolphin mammal when you say the word! It can get annoying.

Mahi makes for a great dinner, it’s light-colored flesh cooks up so flaky and tasty. All you need to do is marinate in a little Italian dressing and throw it on the grill. If you don’t want to cook it yourself, or you can’t go fishing, our favorite place to get a great mahi dinner is in Key Largo at a dive place called SHIPWRECKS Bar and Grill. It’s located in north Key Largo at 45 Garden Cove Dr, Key Largo, FL 33037. They don’t have a website so I can’t link you there! Friday nights is their All-You-Can-Eat Fish Fry (or grilled or blackened) for only $12.