As I told you last week we were spending Memorial day weekend at the beach in Florida. The location-Panama City Beach to include Shell Island and St. Andrews State Park. Today's post will only talk about Shell Island. Shell Island is a barrier island of the coast of Panama City Beach in the Gulf of Mexico. There are several shuttle boats that run to the island and you can bring your own boat or waverunner there, too.
We took the boat shuttle run by the State Park. We had to pay $8 per car to get in the park, and then buy the tickets and catch a shuttle bus from the concession stand to the dock. We shared the bus with screaming children and rednecks. On the way out the harbor we passed by the bait sheds where my husband's boat picks up bait when they go out fishing-see above picture.
There is also a pirate ship that you can take, I tried to get a picture from the ferry. We had to remain seated since the jetty was kind of rough on Friday. The closer to the channel opening we got the more the boat bounced around. It was like being on a roller coaster. Once we were past the jetty the waters were calm. There were already many boats and wave runners ankered in the shallow waters off the jetty side of the island.
Ah, did I mention no shade and no bathrooms on the island? We brought two coolers and a beach bag and the shelling gear. After all the main reason we went there is to collect major shells. Shell Island is advertised as a shell paradise and famous for its dolphin sightings. You had the option of staying on the jetty side and swim or snorkel in the tidal pools there, or
walk huff it to the Gulf side were supposedly the shells and sand dollars and the dolphins awaited you. The boat captain warned us from hiking inland as there are rattlesnakes on the island. Figures-I can't get away from these critters anywhere!
So we packed up and trecked through the deep sand. The walk is only about half a mile to a mile, but in the deep sand we had to carry the coolers and the bags. Half way there I was ready to collapse. We finally made it to the other side and were rewarded with a view of beautiful turquoise waters. The ocean was pretty rough that day. We set up camp and got our gear and marched along the beach.
It was rough to walk in the deep sand and you couldn't walk in the ocean since it was very bumpy and you just stumbled along. We walked about a mile and no sign of a shell. Plenty of fine powder sand though. We saw other people looking for shells and no one had a lot. After a while we got tired and hot and turned around. Back at camp the camera bit the sand after taking these last pictures. My husband said to pack up and head back to the other side.
We huffed back and went for a swim in the tidal pools. We collected a few tiny pathetic shells and my husband found a large piece of a sand dollar. That was it. No shells, and no dolphins, we were very disappointed. We had lunch on the beach and then huffed the rest of the way to the dock. The ferry boat runs every 30 minutes in the summer season, and after Memorial day there is a concession boat docked there. On the ride back we went a different way and the captain pointed out a spot where the wave runner tours go to collect sand dollars and we ran smack into a group of wave runners congregating in the water. The captain stopped and said they were swimming with dolphins. Sure enough there was a big dolphin in the water surrounded by kids from the tour. At this point we wanted to kick ourselves for not taking another tour and miss out. After we got back to the concession stand we loaded up the car and then walked along the beach in the State Park. My DH found a few small shells and we went for another swim. The sand is so fine it was everywhere. That night as a bonus I discovered that I badly burnt my back. I looked like a lobster and it was very painful. In my rush to go shelling I forgot to apply sun block to my back. So Shell Island-not for me. To read about more Florida travel visit here and to read about the rest of the trip check back over the next few days. I'm linking up here.