A Day in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea

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Once a year, the Queen sets up a special weekend for me for my birthday. She books a hotel room for a weekend in Miami, where we cram in as much fun, South Beach, shopping, sushi, pizza and donuts as we can. This particular week happened to have my birthday and Father’s Day fall close to each other, so it was a double dose of what I just mentioned above. Thank you to my Queen for being so sweet. Best wife ever.

This time we decided that instead of fighting the weekend traffic to get to South Beach, we’d see if there was a public beach closer and try that….and we happened to stumble upon this cool little beach/town called “Lauderdale-By-The-Sea” which was only 15 miles from our hotel in Sunrise.

LBTS Map

Now to those in the know, it’s a quaint little quiet hamlet nestled in between Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach. It’s well known to those on the East coast. But to those who aren’t local, it’s a blink and miss it kinda place. It has a real Fort Myers Beach feel to it with many many restaurants and shops lining both sides of the street.

It’s also known for a living coral reef just 100 yards from shore – which we didn’t find out¬†about until after we left. ūüė¶

The red arrows show where the first and second reef are located.

LBTS Pier

We GPS’d a restaurant on the beach and made our way a few miles from our hotel to a nice sized parking lot right across the street from the beach. Plenty of parking spots were available and it’s $1.75 per hour. We dropped a $10 in the meter and made our way over.

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The sand is soft and brown, and the water – well, it’s beautiful and clear.

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I didn’t waste much time getting in the water either. It was sparkling and warm with visibility over 20 feet. I didn’t find any shells in the deeper waters, so I stayed close to shore and searched for minis in the surf ridges with my mask and snorkel, with the Queen staying close by doing her own shelling.

If you’re visiting the East coast beaches and are afraid to get into the water, searching for minis is great. Strap on your snorkel and mask and stay in the shallows, searching the ridges. You’ll find so many it will make your head spin.

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Like bubbles, nerites and marginellas.

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and murexes, worms and dwarf olives.

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…some baby’s ears and gaudys.

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and yes, you will find cones. I wasn’t even searching for Alphies and this guy just ended up in the sand in front of me.

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you’ll also find a boat load of shells that you may not even be able to identify!

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Like this one above. I’d never seen one of these before. Thanks to Karen V over on Facebook, it’s a¬†Pyramidella dolobrata. Otherwise known as a Ringed Pyramid Shell. Pretty daggone cool.

You’ll also find amazing pieces of coral (which are still soaking in bleach as I type this).

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This really is a beautiful and quiet beach. It wasn’t packed at all, even as time passed. We soaked in plenty of sun (and got a little red in the process) and had a wonderful time together.

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As I mentioned, the coral reef of located just South of the pier, about 100 yards out. I’m kickin myself for not knowing this before hand. However, the next time we visit (and there will be a next time), we’re¬†gonna be out there.

Put this one on your “must visit beach” list. You will not regret it.

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and a Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there.

Diving for Shells

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I get asked all the time about diving for shells.

“Where do you dive?”

“How deep do you go?”

“What kind of shells do you find?”

“Aren’t you worried about sharks?”

…and many many more questions.

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I appreciate all the questions asked. Now, I can answer some questions but not all.

“Where do you dive?”

This one is the most asked question. ¬†Well,¬†I cannot divulge where I dive. Every sheller has their honey holes as does every fisherman, shrimper and hunter. Some have found these spots by trial and error or by good old fashioned hard work. I will simply say that I dive all over the island as well as places like Little Hickory, Lover’s Key and Barefoot Beach. I have given my word that I will not divulge secret spots. I know that stinks and I am sorry.

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“How deep do you go?”

I have been known to go as shallow as a foot locally to as deep as 20+ feet in the Keys and the Caribbean. At about 15 feet, I can feel the pressure change. By about 20-22 feet, I’m about at my limit with a single breath. But I have seen¬†some amazing things in deeper water.

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“What kind of shells do you find?”

Lots!

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Like this 18″ Horse Conch and huge Heart Urchins¬†in Islamorada – which I still have yet to clean up.

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And this gorgeous Hawkwing Conch – same spot.

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Found this haul diving the island this past weekend. There are goodies out there. You just have to get into the deep water and get them.

“Aren’t you worried about sharks?”

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Sometimes, yes!

But I also play the odds and don’t go where it feels weird.

Read this article written by David McRee over at Blog The Beach. On a side note, our good friend Kim over at Snug Harbor did a great interview with him recently. Go check it out here.

One in 3 million odds.

Now I’m not gonna go shelling in some giant bait ball or near fishermen. That would be insane. I listen to my gut (and my diving friends) and pay attention to what I see and have seen in the water…

Let me also say that there are other things in the water that creep me out more than sharks……

“Isn’t the water really cold right now?”

Yes, the water is pretty daggone cold right now! I dove this past weekend with a water temp of 64 degrees. BRRRRRR. Good thing I have a wetsuit.

Unless you have one, you’re kinda on the crazy side to be getting in such cold¬†water.

“Where is your favorite dive spot?”

Other than a couple of local spots, hands down it has to be the Caribbean (specifically The Cayman Islands¬†and Cozumel), followed closely by the mid-Florida Keys. I’m sure the Shell Queen can confirm that. The Virgin Islands have amazing water. Grand Turk¬†is just as beautiful. The Caribbean has the most beautiful, clear water that I have ever seen.

Diving is fun. It is also unsettling sometimes. But I think the payoff is always worth it!

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