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Shelling Sweet Spot
The island is right in the path of storms, ensuring a plethora of shells will be dredged up with the currents. Bring several bags to collect specimens from the 17 miles of shell-littered beaches on Sanibel.
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The Sanibel Stoop
So many visitors to Sanibel are seen bent over, searching the fertile shelling grounds, that this position has been christened the "Sanibel stoop," and on Captiva, the "Captiva crawl."
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Thousands of beautiful shells in an array of colors, shapes, and sizes are available for collection -- just be sure to respect the wildlife and return any "live" shells to the water.
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When creating the article "Shell Games," the staff of Martha Stewart Living stayed at Jensen's Twin Palm Resort and Marina (jensen-captiva.com), which is well-known for its old-fashioned charm and hospitality, as well as its private marina, where guests can rent boats.
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When to Shell
You'll have the best luck finding shells at low tide. Check tidal charts, such as this one found outside Jensen's Twin Palm Resort and Marina, for times and conditions.
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Take a Tour
Brian Holaway, shelling and nature history guide, conducts shelling, birding, and nature tours of neighboring Cayo Costa State Park, Boca Grande, Pine Island, and Cabbage Key. (For tour info, visit relaxandexplore.com.) Boat tours of the surrounding islands, offered by several companies, allow visitors to enjoy the pristine natural surroundings in an environment unencumbered by commercialism.
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Amy Ramsey, a shell artist, stoops to rinse shells in turquoise waters surrounding Cayo Costa State Park.
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Martha Stewart Living art director Matthew Axe (in black) and shell artist Amy Ramsey (in pale blue) visit Cayo Costa State Park with shelling guide Brian Holaway (in hat) in search of shells for Amy's creations.