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When you visit Ocala and stay at the Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club, you’ll feel like you’re in the Old South. Here are some reasons why we love this charming Florida town. Some of the best restaurants are in Ocala. There’s always something to do here. And there’s always something good to eat. 

Some refer to Ocala as the heartland of the Sunshine State, and it’s easy to see why. It’s located in the middle of Florida. Its simple pace and farming and equestrian lifestyle make it easy to feel like you’ve stepped back in time. And the stately oak trees with Spanish moss hanging from them complete the picture. 

In no particular order, here are the top 10 restaurants in Ocala: 

  1. Mark’s Prime Steakhouse & Seafood
  2. La Cuisine French Restaurant
  3. Ivy on The Square
  4. Braised Onion
  5. Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille
  6. Brick City Southern Kitchen & Whiskey Bar
  7. Big Lee’s Serious About Barbeque
  8. The Mojo Grill & Catering Co. 
  9. Brooklyn’s Backyard
  10. Tony’s Sushi

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Mark’s Prime Steakhouse & Seafood

This is one of the most talked about restaurants in Ocala. Reminiscent of an old steakhouse, Mark’s Prime Steakhouse & Seafood is truly one of the best restaurants in Ocala. The restaurant will give you a unique dining experience complete with mouthwatering entrées and premium wines. Perfect for a date night, Mark’s Prime is located in The Square,  the heart of downtown Ocala.

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit Mark’s Prime Steakhouse & Seafood at 30 South Magnolia Avenue, Ocala, Florida, 334471.

La Cuisine French Restaurant

La Cuisine French Restaurant is located in the heart of downtown Ocala, just one block from The Square. You’ll feel like you’re in a café in Paris. Enjoy authentic French fare and La Cuisine’s old world charm. This is a treat the whole family can enjoy.

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit La Cuisine French Restaurant at 48 SW First Avenue, Ocala, Florida, 34471.

Ivy on The Square

This popular local favorite is a must if you have a hankering for some delicious homemade southern food. Most of the meals are made with homemade recipes, too, so you know it has to be good!

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit Ivy on The Square at 53 South Magnolia Avenue, Ocala, Florida, 34471.

Braised Onion

Their motto is comfort food with an attitude. The atmosphere is fun and casual, so it’s great for a small, low-key gathering or a larger family reunion. 

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit Braised Onion at 754 NE 25th Avenue, Ocala, Florida, 34470.

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Harry’s Seafood, Bar & Grille

Located in the historic Marion Block building constructed in 1884, this is one of the best restaurants in Ocala. Its menu is Cajun-inspired and the décor doesn’t disappoint. 

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit Harry’s Seafood & Grille at 24 SE First Avenue, Ocala, Florida, 34471.

Brick City Southern Kitchen & Whiskey Bar

Brick City Southern Kitchen & Whiskey Bar has an atmosphere and a vibe that is celebrated throughout Ocala’s downtown Square. The custom-built smoker in the kitchen, variety of whiskey available and the rustic, brick and wood décor will put you at ease. This is a great option for a laidback meal or a larger get-together. 

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit Brick City Southern Kitchen & Whiskey Bar at 10 South Magnolia Avenue, Ocala, Florida, 34471.

Big Lee’s Serious About Barbeque

Owner of Big Lee’s Serious About Barbecue, Rashad Jones, is a little bit of a local celebrity. He won a show on the Food Network, called “Guy’s Big Project,” hosted by Guy Fieri. Jones also has his own show on the popular culinary channel as well. Be sure to check out “Eat, Sleep, Barbeque.”

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit Big Lee’s Serious About Barbeque at 3925 SE 45th Court, Ocala, Florida, 34480.

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Mojo Grill & Catering Co.

The minute you walk into this eclectic establishment, you know you’re going to have a good time. It’s bright, colorful and there’s rock ’n’ roll memorabilia everywhere. Who doesn’t love that?

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit Mojo Grill & Catering Co. at 2015 SW 17th Street, Ocala, Florida, 34471 or 4620 East Silver Springs Boulevard, Ocala, Florida, 34470.

Brooklyn’s Backyard

This casual joint serves up American-style cuisine. This is where you go if you’re craving a mouthwatering burger and fries.

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit Brooklyn’s Backyard at 2019 East Silver Springs Boulevard, Ocala, Florida, 34470.

Tony’s Sushi

Not only is Tony’s Sushi one of the best restaurants in Ocala, it is one of the most popular sushi restaurants in Central Florida. Meals are made with fresh ingredients and entrées also enjoy attention to detail that’s evident in the taste.

Why Plan a Visit:

What to Order:

Visit Tony’s Sushi at 3405 SW College Road, Ocala, Florida, 34474.

Stay at Luxurious Rentals at Golden Ocala While you Enjoy the Best Restaurants in Ocala

You can try all of these mouthwatering restaurants or just choose a handful of them. It’s up to you! There’s something here for everyone and, who knows? You may even discover your new favorite. 

When you stay at any of our luxury vacation rental homes at Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club, you’ll also have access to three onsite restaurants, after you pay an amenity fee. 

Golden Ocala restaurants include:

This is the only true waterpark in the Fort Myers area. People come from all over, including Sanibel and Captiva Islands, to cool off at Sun Splash Family Waterpark in Cape Coral, FL.

Known just as Sun Splash to the locals, kids who grow up in Southwest Florida go on field trips to the popular waterpark, and then end up taking their children to enjoy everything the park has to offer. Many kids also choose Sun Splash for their birthday parties. If your son or daughter is having a birthday while you’re on vacation, this is a great fun-filled option the entire family can enjoy.

Sun Splash Family Waterpark is in Cape Coral, FL and it’s located at 400 Santa Barbara Blvd.

Hours change throughout the year. For more information, visit http://sunsplashwaterpark.com/hours.

For general admission and seasonal pass prices, go to http://sunsplashwaterpark.com/rates.

The Cape Coral waterpark is open for a portion of the year, from March to September; it’s closed October through February.

The park has professional sand volleyball courts and it’s very kid-friendly. There’s a Lily Pad Walk for older children and adults where you can test your agility and trek over water as you grab onto a rope above. Kids can play on the child-sized Pro Racers. There is also a Tot Spot for kids to play in, complete with floating logs, alligators and an interactive play area specially designed for young children.

There are also aquatic programs; a gift shop for souvenirs and necessities; a few different food options; a lazy river; kids play area; and 14 acres of water slides and pools.

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Slides at Sun Splash Family Waterpark in Cape Coral, FL

There are slides for everyone, whether you’re looking for something easy and fun or you’re a daredevil seeking something with a little more adrenaline. Slides include Cape Fear, Fun-L-Tunnel, Zoom Flume, the 457-foot Electric Slide and Power Surge. There are three different speed slides as well. They are the Thunder Bump, Terror Tube, and X-celerator.

Cape Fear takes you through a dark tunnel from a 30-foot-high platform, and eventually drops down 215 feet.

The Fun-L-Tunnel drops 30 feet without a tube. Riders then slide down 200 feet.

Can I Leave and Come Back Later in the Day?

If you want to leave the park and come back later in the same day, you can! All you need is a hand stamp before you leave the premises. When you want to return, just show your hand stamp at the front and you’ll be good to go!

What Am I Allowed to Bring to Sun Splash Family Waterpark Cape Coral, FL?

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What If It Rains During my Trip to Sun Splash Family Waterpark?

You can request a rain check if bad weather conditions considerably affect Sun Splash operations and your visit is cut short. Rain Checks are given out at the front gate and they’re usable until the end of the current season. For more information on Sun Splash Family Water Park’s weather policy, visit http://sunsplashwaterpark.com/park-info/ and click on the “Weather Policy” tab halfway down on the left.

What is There to Eat at Sun Splash Family Waterpark in Cape Coral, FL?

The Ice Cream Shop, Tiki Express and Calypso Café all serve a variety of snacks, fast food and combo meals. Some things you can look forward to include hot dogs, chicken Caesar salads or wraps, hamburgers, Italian ice and ice cream. Guests can also purchase beer, wine, water and soda. Outside food or beverages are not allowed inside the park.

Sun Splash Family Waterpark Cape Coral, FL Lockers, Tickets and Parking


If you need to store stuff, you can rent a locker at the gift shop. There is a one-time locker fee for a full day’s worth of unlimited access. A small locker is $11; a large one is $13.


Can I Rent Cabanas at Sun Splash Family Waterpark in Cape Coral, FL?

Guests can rent a cabana from Pirate’s Cove Cabanas. Cabana rentals do not include admission to the park.

A cabana rental includes:


Luxury Loungers are another option for $35 Monday through Friday; $40, Saturday and Sunday.

The Luxury Lounger can be reserved from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you’d like more information, please call 239.574.0558 or email sunsplashgroupsales@capecoral.net. You may also secure loungers for the day at guest services or the ticket booth window.

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Some Sun Splash Family Waterpark Rules and Regulations

Featured Royal Shell Rentals in Cape Coral near Sun Splash Family Waterpark

If a day (or two) at Sun Splash Family Water Park in Cape Coral, FL sounds like the perfect way to cool off in the hot Florida sun, why not stay nearby so you can enjoy it as much as possible?

Royal Shell features a variety of vacation rental properties in Cape Coral. They’re perfect for families and they come in various shapes, colors and sizes. Let us know what type of vacation home you’re envisioning and our Vacation Planning Advisors will start searching for the perfect rental for your lifestyle and budget.

Mangoes are so popular in Southwest Florida; they even have their own festival.

And it’s fitting because Pine Island is especially suited to grow the sweet, tropical fruit.

You can thank the region’s climate for that stroke of luck. The climate here is similar to that of the mangoes’ native climates of India and Southeast Asia.

The July 13-14 festival, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days, celebrates the area’s abundance of mangoes and other tropical fruit.

The 23rd annual Mango Mania and Tropical Fruit Festival will be held at the German American Social Club at 2101 Pine Island Road in Cape Coral. Tickets are $5 in advance; $6 at the gate. It’s one of the most popular mango festivals in Florida.

Mango season in the Sunshine State is at its peak in the summer. It runs from May through October. There are about 50 types of mangoes grown on the island, and this year at the festival there will be more than 20 of them available to try.

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In at least one of the tents, there will also be snow, a first for the festival.

Several cooling tents, air-conditioned portable toilets and misters spread throughout the festival will also help keep attendees cool.

There will be a tasting tent and places to buy whole mangoes, jam, smoothies, chutney, ice cream, tea and bread.

Home cooks and amateur chefs can enter a food and recipe contest. There will also be mango and tropical fruit-based beverages and food for sale. After all, it wouldn’t be Mango Mania without it. Don’t miss the free mango tasting table.

If you want to learn more about mangoes at the festival, you can attend educational talks about tropical plants, palms, art and more. Tropical plants and trees will also be for sale.

Don’t forget to say hi to the Mango Queen either!

If you’re not into mangoes, that’s ok, too. While your friends and family gorge on nature’s sweet nectar, there are options for you as well.

Vendors will be there to offer everything from mango trees to Native American jewelry.

There will also be an area for family-friendly games and mango-themed activities.

You’ll be able to participate in:

Mango Mania 2019 will also feature a Mango Drop on Sunday, July 14, at 4:15 p.m. Put on by Pine Island Kiwanis, 1,500 mangoes are numbered, put in a box and lifted on a crane high above a big target on the ground. Someone then releases a latch and the mangoes plummet to the ground. The one that lands closest to the bullseye wins its ticket holder a coveted $1,000 prize.

There will also be live music to help keep you energized. This year, attendees will hear a rock and country cover band, jazz musician and country-rock singer-songwriter.

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Enjoy Mangoes from Pine Island Whenever You Want

If you love mangoes so much, you can get them whenever you want from “The Mango Factory” or any other Pine Island mango farm. They’ll ship fresh mangoes to your door and all fruit is guaranteed to arrive in good condition and ripen properly, or you’ll get your money back on the damaged portion. More information can be found here: https://www.themangofactory.com.

If you’re local or don’t mind a bit of a drive, Pine Island Tropicals and Fruitscapes Nursery in Bokeelia on Pine Island are known for their mangoes and other tropical fruit. Have you ever tried a Barbados cherry, jujube fruit or black sapote? You can also try Seminole pumpkin or guava bread.

When Did Mango Mania Start?

Mango Mania is the brainchild of former Chamber President, Jerry Myers. Normally for locals, Mango Mania and Pine Island go hand-in-hand. It started there, but it’s since grown and expanded into Cape Coral.

The idea for the original festival came out of desperation. Myers needed to pay the bills and he was desperate to raise money. The Chamber didn’t even have enough funds in their bank account to cover the electric bill. Myers had a field full of Pine Island mangoes and at a board meeting, he proposed the idea to hold a festival and sell them.

The festival started at Bokeelia’s Our Lady of The Miraculous Medal Church in 1996. It then moved to an empty field on Stringfellow Road and a KOA Kampground in St. James City, which the event soon outgrew. It lasted three years in St. James City before moving to the German American Social Club in unincorporated Lee County. According to an article from a local newspaper, no other venue on the island could handle the traffic and parking from Mango Mania’s thousands of attendees.

How to Cut a Mango

Mangoes are downright delicious, but cutting them can be tricky. Instead of leaving this page and searching YouTube for a video, we’ve provided one for you—so you can start enjoying your fruity treasure a little more quickly.

This is what you’ll need:

  1. Wash the mango and remove the skin with the Y-shaped peeler. As you begin to expose more pulp, use the paper towel to hold the mango so it doesn’t slip out of your hand.
  2. Place the mango on a cutting board and slice it in half, avoiding the pit. Using the chef’s knife, aim it at the center and slice the sides, still avoiding the pit.
  3. Hold the mango upright and cut the rest of the flesh off of the pit.
  4. Slice that cut horizontally in halves and then into smaller wedges.
  5. Enjoy!

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Royal Shell Vacation Rentals near Mango Mania Pine Island 2019

One of the best things about vacationing in Cape Coral is that it’s situated in the middle of everything. Naples and Fort Myers are both about a 30-minute drive away. Sanibel and Captiva Islands are about the same distance. Cape Coral also has a vibrant downtown and boating scene. You’ll have plenty to do when you’re not at Pine Island Mango Mania 2019.

Let us know if you’re wondering where to find Southwest Florida boat rentals. After all, it’s not a Florida vacation if you don’t get to go out on the boat at least once. Royal Shell vacation rental guests get to take advantage of 30% off boat rentals from Port Sanibel Marina.

Whether you’re in Southwest Florida for Mango Mania 2019 or not, let us know how you enjoyed your trip! We love helping our guests create memories that will stick with them forever.

The Fourth of July is not only a great holiday because it celebrates Independence Day.

It’s a favorite event because it also means soaking up the sun, spending time outside, barbeques, amazing food, fireworks, parades and quality time with loved ones. And spending it in the Sunshine State is extra special. You could say it’s star spangled spectacular. The weather is amazing, the beaches are plentiful, the fireworks shows over the Gulf of Mexico are incredible, and there are a variety of different towns to explore; each with their own Fourth of July 2019 events.

Do you have plans this year? If not, we have all of the Fourth of July 2019 events in Florida in one place to help you plan.

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Fourth of July Events 2019 in Ocala, Florida

If you’ll be in or near Central Florida this year for the Fourth of July, Ocala has a couple of events you won’t want to miss. The weather is also cooler, making outdoor events less of a hassle.

God and Country Day at Golden Ocala Real Estate, 7340 U.S.-27, will host the 50th annual celebration at 2 p.m. Parking entrances are located off 225A, South of U.S.-27. The parking fee is $5.

There will be fresh food, live music, games for the family, water slides, face painting, contests, bounce houses, pony rides, and a 30-minute fireworks display at 9 p.m.

There will also be a Fourth of July celebration on the Town Square at Circle Square Commons, 8405 S.W. 80th Street. There will be bands, food, and of course, fireworks. The event starts at 4 p.m. with a fireworks display at 9 p.m.

Sanibel Island Fourth of July 2019 Things To Do

Locals enjoy the fireworks display each year, and many come from all over South Florida to see it.

The show begins at 9 p.m. Fireworks are set off from a barge at the end of Bailey Road. To have the best vantage point, find a spot off the Sanibel Island Causeway early. It’s the place to go to watch them. Trust, us, most of Sanibel Island will be there. You never know who you might meet!

Fourth of July 2019 events in Florida don’t have to start at night, either. The Fourth of July parade begins at 9:30 a.m. Make sure you set up your chairs at the beginning of the route off of Periwinkle Way and Tarpon Bay Road, or at the route’s finish line, Case Ybel Road and Periwinkle Way.

At 10:30 a.m., you can join in the after-parade celebration at Jerry’s Shopping Center, 1700 Periwinkle Way. The 40th-annual San-Cap Optimist’s Club Road Rally is at Timbers Restaurant and starts at noon. The restaurant is located at 703 Tarpon Bay Road.

Fourth of July 2019 in Cape Coral | Red, White and BOOM

Red, White and BOOM in Cape Coral is one of the most talked about Fourth of July 2019 events in Florida. This year, LOCASH will headline the annual Cape Coral fireworks Independence Day celebration at 8 p.m. Neon Summer comes on at 5 p.m. and Hailey and Michaels follows at 6:30 p.m.

The family friendly event runs from 5 to 10 p.m. There will be vendors, a kids park with rides, kids activities and of course, a fireworks display at 9:30 p.m. A wristband is required to enjoy the rides. Each session will end after an hour and 15 minutes. Keep in mind, a limited number of wristbands are available. Red, White and Boom is located at the foot of the Cape Coral Bridge, just east of Del Prado Boulevard.

Fourth of July 2019 in Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach

Downtown Fort Myers hosts the annual Freedom Fest. The fireworks display starts at 9:30 p.m. and it’s free for the public to attend. There will also be live entertainment, vendors and food.

Fort Myers Beach, which is about 45 minutes away from the city of Fort Myers, also has a July 4 parade. It starts at the Bay Oaks Recreation Center at 10 a.m. To catch a glimpse, follow the parade along Estero Boulevard to Times Square. The recreation center is located at 2731 Oak Street.

Beginning at noon, Times Square will host a watermelon-eating contest, patriotic arts and crafts and a dunk tank. Parking is limited and the event is free.

Fireworks on Fort Myers Beach begin at 8:45 p.m. at Times Square. Bring your own beach chairs, and remember that the Matanzas Pass Bridge will be closed for the parade from 9 a.m. to noon and from 9:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. for the fireworks show.

Naples Fourth of July 2019 | Naples Pier Fireworks and Parade

Fireworks at the Naples Pier are also a popular draw for people all over South Florida. They begin at 9 p.m. and are set off from a barge off the Pier. Special effects are choreographed to the 25-minute show. Get there early. The beach will be crowded, but finding a place to park may take some time. No parking signs are also strictly enforced.

The Fourth of July 2019 parade in downtown Naples starts at 10 a.m. and ends at noon. It will feature school groups, fire engine trucks, floats, dance troupes, bands, civic groups, boy and girl scouts and various organizations.

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Fourth of July 2019 Bonita Springs | Star Spangled Bonita

Head over to Riverside Park at 10451 Old 41 Road in downtown Bonita Springs at 5 p.m. for a Fourth of July celebration featuring live music from the Marc Vee Band, games and activities for the kids and a laser light show. There will also be food and drinks for purchase.

Find a Rental Home Near the Best Fourth of July 2019 Events in Florida

There are so many different Fourth of July 2019 events in Florida,  you can’t go wrong whether you spend the holiday in Naples, Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers Beach, Cape Coral, Ocala, Sanibel Island, or Captiva Island. Each area has something unique to offer. Bonita Springs and Cape Coral are located in the middle of everything. Naples is known for its food and arts scenes. It’s also near the Everglades, if you’re looking for an adventure. Sanibel and Captiva Islands have beautiful beaches and the destinations truly feel like you’re on vacation. Let us know what kind of trip you’re thinking about taking and our Royal Shell Vacation Planners will make it happen.

You never know, you might like your Fourth of July 2019 event in Florida so much, you never want to leave.

Let us know what you do. We’d love to hear how you enjoyed your Fourth of July 2019 vacation to the Sunshine State!

There are two things you should do on a Florida vacation.

Go to the beach.

And look for seashells.

It’s a hobby with roots that go back decades. It costs almost nothing to do. The kids love it, and it’ll make the adults feel like children again.

What is shelling? It’s looking for buried treasure on the seashore.

Where is the Best Place to Go Looking for Shells?

No two beaches are the same and no two shells are identical. The shells that wash up on the beach one day will be gone the next. That’s part of the allure and attraction to looking for seashells. So, what is shelling? Part luck. Part science. And part magic.

The geography of Sanibel Island makes it the perfect spot to find unique shells. Sanibel is shaped like a dolphin and curves along the coastline. The southern currents help all different kinds of shells wash up on the island’s coastline. The east-west torque of Sanibel’s southern tip also acts like a shovel and scoops up beautiful seashells the Gulf of Mexico brings from all over the world and deposits on the islands’ shores.

Sanibel Island is a short and easy drive from Fort Myers and the Southwest Florida International Airport. It’s connected to the mainland by a causeway over the water. From Sanibel Island, it’s about a 20-minute drive over a short bridge to Captiva Island, another paradise for seashells.

Lighthouse Beach on Sanibel is known for smaller shells. The selection sometimes gets bigger the more you work your way along the coast. If you’re after larger seashells, head to Captiva’s north end. Also check Sanibel’s Blind Pass Beach, or cross the bridge over the pass to Turner Beach on Captiva’s south end.

Looking for shells is so popular; it even has its own special name. If you see someone bent at the waist to pick up a seashell, that posture has been affectionately named the “Sanibel Stoop.” It’s a popular sight to see on the islands, and a rite of passage.

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Tips for Shelling

Shelling is a big deal here. Locals live by it and some people vacation here each year just to go looking for seashells.

Don’t let that intimidate you. Anyone can go shelling.

Here are Some Tips for Amateurs to Seasoned Professionals

When is the Best Time to Go Shelling?

Shelling is best after a storm, when the ones hidden in the water are tossed ashore. Low tide is also ideal, as it leaves more shells exposed. Tides play a big role in shelling. Pay attention to full and new moons, when tides are at their highest and lowest levels. Shelling should be good then, too.

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How Do I Go Shelling?

If you want to go shelling, there are a few things you must bring with you.

You’ll need a bucket, plastic or mesh bag and a scoop. Wear beach-appropriate shoes and shuffle your feet to expose seashells partially hidden in the sand.

Shells also come in two varieties.

The gastropod wears a single shell. Species include whelks and conchs.

Bivalves—clams, cockles and scallops—also have only one shell, but it contains two hinged parts called ‘valves’.

An empty shell was made by a mollusk, the animal that used to call the shell home.

Mollusks grow their shells at the aperture (gastropods) or at the margins (bivalves). This means that when the animal grows, their shells develop with them. Special glands also create color pigments before new layers of shell harden, giving off the intricate patterns and color combinations we all know and love.

What do Mollusks Do?

Mollusks are very beneficial to the environment. They help keep the sand in place and restock it as they’re crushed by waves and other forces. They also become food for fish and birds or homes for other small animals. Additionally, as certain kinds of mollusks scavenge and filter, they help clean the water.

History of Shelling

Shell history here can remind people of where they’re from, too.

For many people around the world, they are woven into cultures and religions. Or shells make up a place’s very foundation. In fact, Sanibel Island and Captiva Island are made from seashells. The Calusa or “Shell Indians” who lived in the area thousands of years ago used shells as jewelry, tools, and even made shell mounds, which still form the highest elevations of some Florida islands. Sanibel Island has a shell festival each year to honor these precious treasures.

What Should I do with My Shells?

After you’ve spent hours searching for the perfect seashells, why not do something to display them? You can gently place them in jars and bowls and place them around your home. Or you can get crafty.

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Royal Shell Rentals near the Best Shelling Beaches

If you want to answer the question, ‘what is shelling?’ for yourself, Royal Shell has rentals throughout Sanibel and Captiva Islands. We also have options in Fort Myers and Cape Coral, just two of the cities located nearby. If you are looking for a rental home on the beach, we have plenty of choices. Feel free to browse our rental homes on our website, or give our Vacation Planning Advisors a call. Helping you plan your dream vacation is what we love doing the most!

Let us know what special shell treasures you find in the comments or send us a picture on our Facebook page!

Royal Shell is doing its part to help out the local Southwest Florida environment.

On June 7, Ocean Habitats installed eight artificial Mini Reefs at the Royal Shell Port Sanibel Marina.

The effort is part of Ocean Habitat’s Thousand Reef Challenge—an effort to rebuild Florida’s living coastline.

It also helped kick off World Oceans Day on June 8.

“Royal Shell and Royal Shell Port Sanibel Marina are proud to rally behind the Thousand Reef Challenge. As a real estate company, Royal Shell handles an array of properties, many of which are surrounded by bodies of water that further enhance the properties’ beauty and make for quality waterfront living. Before we proceed, we must make it our business to protect our coastline with as much passion as we have for real estate,” said President and Managing Broker, Michael Polly.

One artificial Mini Reef is 24 inches by 36 inches. The lightweight apparatus, valued at $250, holds six to 10 large fish all year, supports over 500 fish and crustaceans per year, filters between 25,000 and 35,000 gallons of water a day and holds 20 to 30 panfish.

These reefs, designed to mimic a mangrove-like habitat, are vital to the Sunshine State’s coastline because they elevate the water quality and over time a community of fish will develop and thrive, including larger fish like grouper and snapper, and other marine animals like stone crab, shrimp, and spiny lobster. The Mini Reef lasts 10-plus years and it’s also alligator-proof.

The Royal Shell family came out to support the initiative. Later we were joined by a local radio station and TV news reporter.

Raffle prizes were given out as well. They were designed to celebrate Florida’s natural treasure, its water and unique beauty. Prizes included a boat or kayak rental from Royal Shell Port Sanibel Marina, and a gift certificate from Adventures in Paradise for a lunch and shelling cruise or a dolphin sightseeing cruise.

The reefs are put in under the marina’s docks and they’re made from polypropylene rope, fiberglass, PVC pipes and crab-trap floats. They can also be installed in brackish, saltwater or freshwater.

The reefs are designed and manufactured by the Fort Myers-based Ocean Habitats. They also come in two sizes, standard and the smaller “sampler,” installed under canal docks.

According to Ocean Habitats, each Mini Reef habitat can support 60 different marine species. When it’s fully developed after a  year and a half, the Mini Reefs can clean 35,000 gallons of water a day.

Royal Shell Port Sanibel Marina Can Hold Up to 30 Mini Reefs

Royal Shell is reaching out to individuals and other businesses to meet its 30-Mini-Reef goal at the marina. So far, eight have been installed. With the additional 22, the 30 reefs will clean nearly 330 million gallons of water a year.

If you’d like to help, you can donate here, https://www.facebook.com/OceanHabitats. Or drop off a check at the Royal Shell Port Sanibel Marina Ship Store, 14341 Port Comfort Road in Fort Myers. Please write “Reef Effort” in the subject line. All checks must be payable to Ocean Habitats.

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