Little Palm Island: Luxury in the Lower Keys

Little Palm Island is luxury at every turn.
Little Palm Island is luxury at every turn.

Little Palm Island Resort & Spa in the Lower Keys is so spectacular, you’ll be pinching yourself over and over to be sure you’re not dreaming. It’s like going to the Pacific Islands — but don’t need a passport and it’s a whole lot closer! (Although you will have to take a boat or a seaplane to get there as it’s several miles offshore.)

Little Palm Island bugalow
Living area of a Little Palm Island bungalow.

This private island resort owned by Noble House sits on 5.5 acres in the Atlantic, off Little Torch Key at about Mile Marker 28.5. You can drive and leave your car at their welcome center, where a motor yacht will whisk you to the island while keeping you dry. Dolphins love to play in the wake of the boat, which is a really nice welcome. Another nice welcome is your Gumpy Slumber cocktail that you’re given upon arrival. Ohh, it’s so good!

Bedroom of a Little Palm Island bungalow.
Bedroom of a Little Palm Island bungalow.

Little Palm Island is totally private, only 30 stand-alone bungalows are available and each offers the ideal blend of comfort and opulence. If you’ve never showered under the stars, you will want to try it at your bungalow. Mosquito netting drapes the beds in pure romance, and there are no phones or TVs to distract you from anything. There is also a no-cellphone rule in public areas. If you’re looking to disconnect, this resort is your answered prayer. One more thing, no one under 16 is allowed on island. Hello, babysitter? (AKA grandma.)

There is one restaurant onsite that will serve all your meals and you can even dine with your feet in the sand. Key deer sometimes come wandering through, right by your table, or right by your pool chaise lounger. These are tiny deer about the size of a dog, and they’re only found in the Lower Keys. They just add another coolness factor that you can’t find anywhere else.

Dine with your feet in the sand at Little Palm Island.
All new meaning to oceanside dining at Little Palm Island.

While you’re here, you can take out kayaks, Boston Whaler skiffs, book a dive trip to Looe Key (amazing!), play giant chess, relax in the sun, nap in the shade, take an astronomy class, swim in the lagoon-style pool, and just enjoy the peacefulness of your privileged surroundings. I almost forgot to mention the onsite spa. It’s small but good things come in small packages.

Luxury and privacy isn’t cheap, but it is worth it. It’s in a word, unforgettable. And you never know who might see here, after all, presidents and movie stars tend to frequent its secluded shores.



True Tulip in Tavernier

Big true tulip found in Tavernier.
Big true tulip found in Tavernier.

I took a drive to the Keys to get my feet-in-the-water fix and I’m so glad I did. While wading in the very shallow water at the Wild Bird Center, I found this beauty.

back of tulip

It’s the largest one I’ve ever found in the Keys. There were plenty of mini shells like the one below right next to shore, too. Love the black and white coloring!

black and white auger
Black and white auger from the Florida Keys.

I haven’t seen a black and white auger, but it sure looks like an auger to me. It had a tiny crab in it so back in the water it went.

Speaking of crabs, after wading, I drove home and when I went looking for my tulip shell in my backseat, it wasn’t there. Say what? Then I spied it, under my seat. It had crawled away! Yep, there was a stinkin’ hermit crab hiding REALLY GOOD in that big tulip.

meet crazy joe

Since I wasn’t near the beach, I ran him to my saltwater fish tank. Looks like we have a new family member. We named him Crazy Joe, from the character in the kids’ movie, Shark Tale. I put other big shells in the tank for when he needs to trade up.


Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum

junonia wheel
Wheel of Junonias – all sizes imaginable

Ok shellers, if you haven’t been to the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, you simply must visit! It’s not the same museum you visited years ago, it has so many new additions and it’s full of world record seashells and SO much more.

One of my favorite new things is the Tank Talks. They now have marine biologists on staff that will introduce you to the world of shells like you’ve never known. It is so educational and fascinating. Tank Talks are free with your admission and happen daily.

National Shell Museum sign

Another new item is their daily beach walks. Sign up in advance and take a walk on the beach with a marine biologist. How great is that? You’ll meet up right near the Island Inn on Sanibel and you’ll get an amazing hands-on learning experience. Prices are currently $10 adults / $7 children. Plus, you’ll get half-off admission to the Shell Museum.

There are many intriguing exhibits inside the museum as well – and there is something for ALL ages. Yes, they have a special kids’ area too.

Interior shot of the center of the museum.
Interior shot of the center of the museum.

The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Children 4 and under: FREE
Youth 5-17: $5.00
Adults 18+: $11.00

(Closed Thanksgiving Day. Open Noon to 4 on New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day & Christmas Day.)

Now, go to shell!


Sanibel Shell Show

Golden olive on display at Sanibel Shell Show.
Golden olive creatively displayed at the Sanibel Shell Show.

The 79th Annual Sanibel Shell Show was held March 3, 4 and 5, 2016. This incredible show is put on by the Sanibel-Captiva Shell Club. I have attended this event many times over the years and it always leave me in awe.


There are scientific and artistic divisions that shellers can compete in, and there is also an area for purchasing goods, like books, jewelry, and more.

Water lilly created from angel wing shells.
Water lily created from angel wing shells.

The shells you will see at this show are incredible! If you have never been, you should really try to attend next year.

Huge, dark junonia shell at Sanibel Shell Show.
Beautiful junonia at Sanibel Shell Show.

Plus, in the parking lot, there are vendors selling seashells, food, clothing, gifts and crafts.

First place winner: Flat scallop, hinged, and gorgeous!

Check out these true tulip egg casings, did you know what they looked like? I know lightning whelk casings, so this was cool to see.

True tulip egg casings.
True tulip egg casings.


Enormous true tulip found in the Bahamas.
Enormous true tulip found in the Bahamas.


Crown conch found on Sanibel. (Also known as a King's Crown.)
Crown conch found on Sanibel. (Also known as a King’s Crown.)

Aren’t these specimens incredible? I went crazy looking at the displays, I’m sure you will, too! Hope to see you there next year.

I Found A Kitten Paw – Sort Of

Maine Coon kitten found on the side of the road.
Maine Coon kitten found on the side of the road.

Well, it’s not a seashell, but look what I found on the side of US 27 today! We were in the middle of nowhere, driving home from a campus visit to Florida Gulf Coast University, when I spotted something moving right by the white line of the highway. I thought it was a turtle. Amazing that I saw him at all since we were traveling in the car going about 60 mph.

I slammed on the brakes, ran back and scooped him up! He was totally covered in those prickly burrs, I could barely touch him. Plus, he really didn’t want to be held. I don’t think he’d had much human contact. I got a beach towel from the back of my car and my cooler bag, wrapped him up and put him inside.

Maine Coon kitten, cute as can be.
Maine Coon kitten, cute as can be.

Once home, I was able to start picking the burrs off and give him a brushing. I also called our vet and we’re going there in a few hours (even on a Sunday)! Thank you Knowles Snapper Creek Animal Hospital.

I wasn’t even sure it was a kitten at first, I wondered if it was a bobcat or something! (Seriously, we were in the middle of the Everglades and his paws are SO big and his whiskers are SO long.)

Anyhow, meet Max! Our newest family member. Daddy isn’t happy :-0