Lovers Key: A Shelling And White Sand Paradise In South Florida

A couple of years ago I got to visit Lovers Key State Park and found all kinds of fun shells. Then I left them in the bag for like a year and a half without being cleaned and couldn’t get rid of the stink so I had to sacrifice them.

I knew I wanted to come back for more shelling at Lovers Key with my parents and made sure we went nice and early for the best shells and fewest people.

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The park opens at 8AM and we made sure we would be there right away. We ended up getting there closer to 8:30 but it was still pretty empty.

There were a few other people on the beach but it was super easy to avoid them. It was getting busier closer to when we left, probably by 10, but it still wasn’t bad.

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Once we got to the beach, we headed to the left. At first I was just walking along the sand where the waves crash and shells pile up but eventually I decided to head into the water a bit and see what I could find.

I had much better luck in the water but I still didn’t find much that was big. I did find my first whole sand dollar though! I’ve wanted to find one for so long and only ever see pieces.

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I was ready to just glue all my pieces together to make a frankendollar. I didn’t but still think about it occasionally. I found some other cool little ones but the sand dollar was the highlight of the whole trip, for sure.

We probably spent an hour and a half here and it was really enjoyable. It was cloudy but not raining so it wasn’t super hot. I would definitely recommend a trip to Lovers Key for shelling or just a nice beach day if you’re nearby.

I think this would be a particularly good beach for a shell scoop since my best shells here were all found in the water. That way you don’t have to stick your arms all the way in the water.

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Where is Lovers Key State Park?

Lovers Key State Park is about 40 minutes from both Naples and Fort Myers, right between them. It’s super easy to get to either way.

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What shells are at Lovers Key?

There is one of those awesome boards showing all the shells at Lovers Key as you’re walking over to the beach. It’s similar to most other beaches in the area but here are some shells you can find at Lovers Key:

  • Sand dollars (I found my first whole one in the water here!)
  • Whelks
  • Augers
  • Wormies
  • Olives
  • Angel wings
  • Fighting conchs (I found a lot of these my first visit here)
  • Scallops
  • Tulips
  • Coral
  • Spiny jewelboxes
  • Cockles
  • Murex
  • Jingles
  • And more!
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Where to go shelling at Lovers Key

I don’t really think there is a bad place for shelling at Lovers Key. The first time I went I mostly walked in the water out on the little sandbars and had pretty good luck there. I went to the right on this visit.

This time I was just in the shallow part of the water and also had pretty good luck but didn’t find anything too big. The sand dollar was the highlight. I went to the left on this one.

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What to bring shelling at Lovers Key

Mesh shell bag – We just used grocery bags we got on the trip, but this would be soooo much more convenient.  This will help loose sand fall out and you could even dip the whole thing in the ocean if necessary for a little rinse.  We rinsed them all off with the hose anyways because they collect so much sand in them.  Buy the mesh shell bag here.

Water bottle – It’ll be hot and humid and you’ll need to stay hydrated.  A Hydro Flask will keep your water ice cold all day long.

Sunscreen – If you plan on being outside, you’ll want sunscreen. If you’ll be swimming, you’ll want a reef-safe sunscreen.

Hat – You’ll want some kind of hat to keep the sun out of your eyes.  A baseball hat should be fine but a bucket hat or sun hat could help keep the sun off your neck.

Sunglasses – This is a must, especially with the wind.  Sunglasses are best paired with a hat on those really bright days.

Shell scoop – This is so helpful for picking up shells in the water if you aren’t swimming. I don’t have one but I will definitely get one for future shelling trips. It also saves your back from the Sanibel Stoop. Buy shell scoop here.

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How much is the Lovers Key entrance fee?

The Lovers Key entrance fee is $8 per vehicle. Any rentals or food will be extra, of course.

When is Lovers Key State Park open?

They are open everyday from 8AM to sunset.

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Is Lovers Key worth visiting?

Yes! I love this beach. I’ve been here twice and the first time was nice and sunny. It was later in the day and a lot hotter and busier but this time we went right when they opened and it was so nice!

I would definitely recommend visiting Lovers Key state Park if you’re visiting Fort Myers or even Naples. It’s such a nice beach, I love it.

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Tips for visiting Lovers Key State Park

  • For the best shelling, get here right when they open or at low tide later in the day. First thing is the best though.
  • There are beach rentals and concessions in the park.
  • The park offers tours and ranger-led programs as well.
  • This is a great place to find sand dollars. You’ll have the best luck of finding whole ones in the water. Digging into the sand with your toes or a shell scoop will help get them out.
  • If you find any live critters, put them back in the water. It’s illegal to take them and mean for the critters.
  • If you see sand dollars out on a bench or something just sort of piled up, those are up for grabs. I asked on Facebook since I was never sure the etiquette on that and the overwhelming answer was they found them and have so many or they’re too delicate to bring home so they leave them for other people to take.
  • The park does get full, especially on weekends, so get there early to be sure you can get it.

Have you been shelling at Lovers Key? Did you find anything good? Do you want to go? What is your favorite beach state park?

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