One of my favorite things about living in Florida is that there is no shortage of things to do outside-especially in the water!
Having grown up when “The Little Mermaid” was released, my best friend and I believed we truly were mermaids. (And who is to say we are not?!) We had the ocean splashing on the rock scene absolutely perfected (much to the chagrin of our mothers who had to clean up all the bathtub water afterward, but thank you for always letting us play, Mom!). And even still today, I will find just about any excuse to get in the water.
And if is a watersport we can do as a family? Sign us up!
Scalloping was a new one for us.
Friends of the family invited us to join them on their annual scalloping trip in Steinhatchee, FL.
Steinhatchee is the epitome of Old Florida. We’re talking sitting outside in a rocking chair with a glass of sweet tea listening to the cicadas and watching the heat lightning type of town. Which if you know anything about me, you know is right up my alley.
So we packed up the coolers, grabbed our snorkel gear, and made the surprisingly easy 2 ½ hour drive to the West Coast. For reference, Disney is 2 ¼ hours away but always it feels like it takes for-ev-er!!!
Speaking of coolers, I’d recommend you go grocery shopping and pack beforehand. There are a couple of nice convenience stores in town, but for picky kids (and adults) it may be worth your while to stock up ahead of time -or- stop in at the brand new Publix in Live Oak for your essentials.
We stayed in a super cute VRBO, and our friends stayed at the Shacks at Sea Hag Marina. Both fill up months in advance, especially during scallop season, so make sure you book your accommodations sooner rather than later.
The Shacks are right there at the marina where our boats were, so it was very convenient to be able to walk out the door and hop on a boat.
The minute we arrived, that’s what we did!
Equipped with our gear, snacks, and the key things I always have with me when we take the kiddos on a boat, we set forth into the deep blue sea on our quest for scallops. Well actually, the water was brackish like it is in Jacksonville, but you get where I’m going with this…
So scalloping in itself is pretty simple.
- You hop off the boat with your gear on
- You pick up a scallop
- You bring it/them back to the boat
As soon as you know what you are looking for and see one, you’ll get what our friend called “a nose for them”. It’s kind of like an Easter egg hunt- once you know what you are looking for, you start to see them everywhere.
What you are trying to find is quite literally a scallop shell. My family calls them, “Connie” shells. You’ll find them all over the Beach in Jax.
They hang out in sea grass or sandbars. We’ve found them in 10 feet of water and less than 3 feet of water. The best way to find them is to just go out and look.
Here is a video of me scalloping from our trip. You’ll see how easy they are to spot-especially when the sun is shining. The sun was not shining at all, so the water will be a little murkier than if you were to go out on a bright sunny day like the Gulf is accustom to.
What do you need to bring?
As for gear, you’ll absolutely need to have the following items:
- Baby shampoo
- Fishing license
- Gallon Bucket
- Mesh bag
I go into further detail for each item in the following video:
Steinhatchee Vs Crystal River
We have since been a few more times and also gone scalloping in Crystal River.
Both locations are super fun trips. The scalloping was shallower in Steinhatchee which was better for the littles. It was also a little less crowded than Crystal River, and we tend to have better success in Steinhatchee.
What else to do?
We got stormed out of scalloping a few days and stumbled upon Steinhatchee Falls.
It was absolutely stunning and we took the BEST family photos there. Tons of folks were also there hiking and riding bikes.
We also had delish drinks and lunch at Who Dat Bar and Grille at the Good Times Marina. Great atmosphere and waterfront seating.
It was a very relaxing, laid back vacation. I definitely recommend it for a family Florida road trip!
Have you been scalloping in the Gulf? What are your best tips and tricks?