It’s got the word "resort" in the name, but really, this is a ten-room motel property that boasts an oceanfront location. Don’t get too excited because it has its quirks, but if you’re looking for great views, a clean room, and Old Florida vibes, you could find your happy place in one of their seaside hammocks.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The front desk closes early, between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Get what you need before they leave.
Choose a studio or a multi-bedroom unit. Most have tiled floors, older furniture, a few pieces of nautical art, and a flat screen TV. Kitchen area has a small table and chairs, small fridge, microwave, toaster, a Mr. Coffee with coffee packs, cups, and packets of stirrers/sugar. Some have a small stove/oven. Windows have inexpensive plantation-style blinds, and French doors have newer blackout curtains. Overall, the units are rather bland but clean. Stay on the ground floor or on the second floor (no elevator).
Each room has its own wall unit air conditioner. Many love the white noise it provides as it hums all night above your head. If you hate noise, bring ear plugs.
Simple, small, with home improvement store vanities, small framed mirror, clean, great-smelling towels, and a pile of soaps, coconut-vanilla shampoos, and even eye makeup remover towelettes. Water pressure is good, and showers have updated tile and a Plain Jane curtain. A small hair dryer is on the wall.
Right up front and clearly marked, this small space is their catch-all office with a counter for check in.
Is there an award for smallest hotel pool? It would win hands down. It looks more like a big, in-ground hot tub, but it is handicap friendly. Paved deck has several wood loungers with padded cushions, and a table and chairs set. It’s set back from the ocean, closer to the parking lot.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Pool hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and we’re not sure where the towels are.
No onsite spa.
No onsite gym.
No onsite dining but there are bbq grills and you may have a full kitchen.
No onsite venue.
The property’s highlight is its large, oceanfront "beach" area, lined with white plastic loungers. It’s not a typical beach; it's hard, compacted crushed shells--typical Keys’ style. A few hammocks are strung up. Each end of the property has a long dock (100’ and 300’) that extends over the water. There's a soda machine beneath the main building.
The long dock is inaccessible for quite a while due to damage, but when it’s repaired, the palapa hut at its far end will be a picturesque place to be one with the sea.
Fish from the dock, take out one of the resort's kayaks (and fish from the kayak!), or swim with the dolphins at one of two dolphin centers just minutes away.
The only place you can walk to is the Hideaway Café. You’ll have to drive your own vehicle to explore anywhere else in the area. Bikes are not recommended since the Overseas Highway is a very busy road.
Make a reservation at the Hideaway Cafe (3-minute walk). Its white linen tables are a juxtaposition to the old jalousie windows overlooking the ocean, but the hand cut steaks and fresh seafood are noteworthy. Island Fish Company (7-minute drive) is hard to miss--a ginormous Tiki on the bayside and its menu is huge, too. The Cracked Conch Café (11-minute drive) is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, serving dishes like conch marsala in a very casual indoor setting.
Sparky’s Landing (7-minute drive) offers tropical drinks and cold beer in a marina setting. Havana Jack’s (8-minute drive) is a large oceanfront Tiki bar and restaurant with live music, bar food, and comfy outdoor seating arrangements. Angler & Ale (5-minute drive) is open for lunch and dinner and has a bar area indoors and out, overlooking a marina. It’s not only great for craft cocktails, their afternoon happy hour (2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.) has deeply discounted appetizers.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Unobstructed oceanfront views and inexpensive, clean rooms. Sea Shells Beach Resort may not have much, but it does have that. If you want to spend the day at a real beach, drive 15 minutes to Sombrero. While Mother Nature may sometimes add a stink to your stay at low tide, or by blowing seagrass littered with plastic to the resort’s boulder-lined shore--just know that it happens--even at the finest resorts. Paddle across the clear flats in a kayak, cast a line for a bonefish, meet your fellow guests, sun bathe, or simply enjoy the peacefulness of this old school property with million dollar views. These old school properties are becoming as elusive as the bonefish, enjoy them while you can.