Just off the shores of Tarpon Springs is a barrier island known as Anclote Key. It is an amazing place to find some great shells. The island is also only accessible by boat.
Anclote Key Preserve State Park is Florida State Park and historical site located 3 miles off Tarpon Springs. The park does allow for camping on the north end of the island as well as picnic pavilions and grills. Wildlife includes various birds and sea life. The island is host to a picturesque lighthouse.
As far as shelling goes, Anclote Key is a nice site to find shells and sponges. Sponges are sparse in most places we go shelling, but the Tarpon Springs sponge docks are world famous with the title of the Sponge Capital of the World. As the tides roll in and out, Anclote Key becomes a resting place for many of the sponges the sea chooses to relinquish.
Shelling on the island was good. We went with a charter called Odyssey Cruises. They were one of the most affordable shelling cruises we have been on. They do pack the boat full and if you are reading this while the pandemic is still going on, not everyone will be wearing masks. The trip is a 2 and 1/2 hour trip which is barely enough time. Check the low tide charts and try to book during a low tide cruise for optimal shelling. The run back to back cruises. They are a business and quantity is what they are going for.
When my wife goes on these trips, I do look for shells, but am more interested in photography. The photography opportunities are plentiful. On this trip I found a beautiful sea star, a juvenile Herring Gull and an American Oystercatcher.
We are looking forward to heading back to Anclote Key. Any friends with a boat up for an all day excursion?