Southwest Florida’s beautiful Marco Island is one of the best places in the US to find shells. Here are three excellent shelling tours that will lead you to the perfect beaches.
Just south of the pretty city of Naples in Florida, the land fractures into an archipelago. Ten Thousand Islands looks like much of the rest of the shoreline around these parts: mangrove-covered and difficult to navigate. Marco Island is quite different, however. The natural contours have been engineered to accommodate the many homes and waterways that allow locals to make the most of their surrounding environment’s natural beauty. Some excellent tours explore one aspect of this beauty in particular: the shells that wash up onto the beaches around here. Proof of the area’s vibrant and abundant marine life.
Cape Marco Shelling and Sightseeing Tour
Take a two-hour boat tour of the Florida gulf around Cape Marco. On the way your captain will encourage you to look out for bald eagles, while pointing out mangroves, and any other marine life that calls these parts home. You’ll pass the ruins of ambitious buildings now lost to the sea and then stop at a private beach. Here you will have the chance to disembark to go shelling for exotic sea specimens. This tour is among the most consistently popular in Florida. From $71 per person.
Ten Thousand Islands Shelling Tour
Another excellent tour also heads into the maze of Ten Thousand Islands to search for the perfect shells. Your captain will be a certified naturalist and expert sheller, who can help lead you to beaches that few people will ever reach without the local expertise and access to a boat. Not only are the shells a captivating reason to do this tour, but you’ll also have the opportunity to see local wildlife, including manatees, dolphins and osprey. Tours depart up to four times a day. From $82 per person.
Marco Island Dolphin, Birding and Shelling Tour
It’s not just the shells that are worth visiting Marco Island for; the natural abundance can be enjoyed above the water and within it too. This two-hour tour, with a certified naturalist guide, will introduce you to many of the local inhabitants, such as the abundant birdlife, including roseate spoonbills, egrets, bald eagles and pelicans. Look to the water for turtles, dolphins and manatees and, as is often the case in and around the Everglades, alligators as well. You will also get the chance to go shelling on a pristine beach. Tours run daily. From $85 per person.