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bacbu01 Mar 6th, 2006 10:49 AM

Captiva Island shelling, biking, etc
My girlfriend and I are headed to Captiva Island April 29 - May 6. We've never vacationed there before so we have a few questions.

One of my favorite memories from family vacations was searching for seashells, so it seems I'm headed to the right place. I've found a lot about shelling and it sounds like you can make it much more involved than just strolling down the beach. Any suggestions on how to be successful in finding treasures while balancing the desire to keep this a relaxing activity? Also, looks like low tide is in the middle of the night. Does that mean I shell with a flashlight?

Changing gears, (I can't believe I just wrote that) we were also thinking that bikes would be our primary mode of transportation. I've heard that Sanibel is great, lots of bike paths, but Captiva can be a little difficult to navigate on a bike. Any thoughts? We live in Colorado and are avid cyclists, so we're not necessarily concerned with the distance/strain, moreso, the traffic/ease of getting around.

We really appreciate any thoughts. Thanks in advance for helping to make this a great vacation!

mrt Mar 6th, 2006 10:56 AM

I have been to Captiva several times in the summer. We stayed at the South Seas Plantation. The shelling was decent but not great. The best sheels we found were small conch shells, many containing he living conch. Don't go in the water after dark. There are plenty of sharks that come in to feed.

There is a State Park on Sanabel that has a decent circular bike trail. Otherwise, you are just riding up and back along the road through Captiva and Sanabel.

Kinch500 Mar 6th, 2006 11:05 AM

I wish Sanibel/Captiva had a number to call to find out if the shelling is good or not.

I live in Cape Coral and we have always had the most luck at the San/Cap bridge AKA Blind Pass. We went yesterday and there was NOTHING....I went last year in March and had the best shelling ever. We went 3 days in a row and I have so many shells from those trips. However the last 2 times I have gone to Blind Pass has been a let down.

The stretch of beach near the lighthouse has been good some times too. You never know what you'll find, which is why I wish there was a number to call and find if there are the good kind of shells. There seems to always be some shells but not what I consider exciting ones.

If the shells are not rolling onto the shore, make sure you have a scoop and you can find them that way also. They will roll up the the shelf part of the sand.

We always drive, so cant answer your questions about bikes. I would think if you are avid cyclists there should be no problems.

seawitch1 Mar 6th, 2006 12:09 PM

I have been told that the better shelling is in Sanibel. I have stayed in Sanibel a number of times and at Tween Water Inn between Sanibel and Captiva, but cannot comment on the shelling on Captiva.

HotWheels Mar 6th, 2006 09:17 PM

We've vacationed at Sanibel/Captiva several times, and have found the best shelling on Sanibel. There are also "shelling" cruises available that will take you to other locations only accessible by boat, although I don't know if they're any better than trying your own luck. Odds are pretty good you'll find some on your own.
In regards to the cycling - the road thru the islands is a simple two lane.
Ding Darling Nat'l Wildlife Refuge would be nice to bike thru - lots of egrets,herons,seabirds,alligators,etc.
One activity we would recommend would be renting a canoe/kayak on Sanibel.
We're not great at water sports, but it was REALLY easy to do and very enjoyable going thru the mangroves, seeing lots of wildlife/marine life. (You can also have someone doing the paddling for you, if you're really uneasy about it.)
Also - don't miss Captiva's Bubble Room for delicious desserts/wacky decor. Have fun!!!

cee3 Mar 8th, 2006 06:00 AM

No bike paths on Captiva.
The roads can be very narrow in spots.
I'd not recommend it for kids, but you sound like you'd do fine. Plus, the islands shouldn't be as busy at that time of year.
Once you cross onto Sanibel, bike paths are everywhere, and have the right-of-way. There are fines for not yielding to bike traffic.
A ride through Ding Darling as suggested can be interesting, wear lots of bug spray though.

Sanibel is generally recognized as having better shelling.
You could try Turner beach, which is about where Sanibel, and Captiva join.
Thirty minutes before low tide is the best time, some say thirty minutes after also.
The tides flutuate, and low tide can be at varying times of the day or night. Use a flashlight if it's still dark, and you'll also see a lot of live sea creatures you may not see during full light
Very early morning shelling can be exciting. To be on the beach just before first light, then watch the sun come better way to start the day. .
Pick up a Sunny Day Guide(they're everywhere) when you arrive, it has tide charts listed. The winds also have a bearing on the shelling.
After a storm, can produce great results.
The whole thing can be as intense, or as relaxing as you want it to be.
But be forewarned, it can become addictive! In a good way of course!

Kinch500 Mar 8th, 2006 08:02 AM

A lot of these posts have mentioned better shelling on Sanibel and I would like to know exactly where on Sanibel?

Always looking for better shelling!

sweet_polly Mar 8th, 2006 06:19 PM

I've had the most productive shelling experience at Bowman's Beach on the north end of Sanibel. You have to park and walk a bit to get to it, but it is absolutely beautiful and usually much less crowded than other Sanibel beaches. It's as natural a beach environment as you will find there...and completely lined with pine forests (instead of condos)...and the beaches are usually laden with shells and driftwood. I found the most beautiful shells in my collection there.

bacbu01 Mar 9th, 2006 08:53 AM

Thanks for all the great recommendations!

LilMsFoodie Mar 9th, 2006 09:49 AM

You can not take live shells. The best shelling is in the summer and during hurricane season when the gulf gets churned up by the wind.

I've found my best shells at Cap-San area (the old blind pass bridge that separates the two islands) and at Bowmans. Best shells always after storms. The beaches are crowded after a storm with professional shellers (now there's a job).

It is slightly easier to bike on Captiva now that the jungle has been removed by the past two years of hurricanes but it is still precarious compared to Sanibel.

Are you staying at South Seas. I know they are planning to reopen in a week or so. LMF

bacbu01 Mar 14th, 2006 08:10 AM


We looked at South Seas, but decided to rent a house more in town instead. This doesn't mean anything to me since I've never been to Captiva before, but we're staying on Dickey Lane if that means anything...

Another question about shelling, Kinch suggests a scoop. Is that the equivalent of a heavy duty butterfly net? Where would I purchase? How do you use?

Hot Wheels mentions kayaking. Sounds great, but do you need a guide to navigate thru the mangroves or would it be pretty difficult to get lost?

Thanks again for the insight!"

Kinch500 Mar 14th, 2006 10:26 AM

About the scoop....

Yes it is pretty much like a heavy duty net and there are also wire basket like scoops.

You can find them in pretty much any tourist store that sells everything. There are a couple of those before you get to Sanibel and a couple once you get on Sanibel.

cee3 Mar 15th, 2006 05:37 AM

You can find the scoops at Jerry's grocery store on Periwinkle.
Also at Bailey's hardware store--both on Sanibel, but I'm sure Captiva has the same stuff available.
There are a couple of styles,and range from approx. $4.99-$12.99.

Also, some condos and houses have these available to the renter, it just depends.
It might be worth waiting until you check out your accomodations, and see what's there for your use.
Like I said, I'm sure the little shops in town carry them if need be.

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