There’s a Kid in All of Us
Do you remember that pure elation and joy you felt as a kid when you went on a scavenger hunt? The process of finding and seeking, hunting & gathering… Finally finding your treasure and screeching - LOOK! I found one!
Well, that’s EXACTLY what we felt like on our most recent Summer getaway from Fort Myers to Steinhatchee, FL.
Does “Florida Regret” Set in for You in the Summer?
It’s not that we want to necessarily “get away” from Fort Myers (after all we love it here!) but in the Summer months regret can set in. As the temps rise, our level of acceptance for ridiculous heat and horrid humidity rapidly falls. If you have your children or grandkids at home, you might feel the same way. “What on Earth am I going to do with the kids all Summer?!” Don’t despair, because aside from crawling through Disney and Bush Gardens on all fours in this summer heat, there is the most amazing coastal Summer getaway from Fort Myers hiding just West of Gainesville.
The Little Gem I’m Referring to is Called Scallop Season in Steinhatchee, Florida.
This has quickly become an annual trip favorite for our family to take every July.
Let me give you a quick rundown of what it looks like:
The objective is to take a boat out on the Steinhatchee River and travel out to the bay beds of the Gulf of Mexico. Here you will go on a “scavenger hunt” snorkel tour in the shallow 2’-6’ bay to find scallops in the seagrass. You swim, swim, swim until you find a scallop shining up at you with their electric blue “eyes.” Take a breath, dive down, and grab it real quick before it scap- scap- scallops away from you (Have you ever seen a scallop put it in reverse and take off? Their strong muscles (the yummy part) make them very proficient swimmers, and once they are down in the seagrass you won’t ever find them again!)
You're never too old for a scavenger hunt, are you?!
This turns out to be the most amazing scavenger hunt for everyone from kids that are old enough to be proficient swimmers to parents and grandparents. Because the areas you snorkel are only 2’-6’ deep, it’s almost like walking out into the Gulf at the beach. Only you can’t see the shore and there aren’t any waves (if it’s not windy).
Steinhatchee is a very small, rural fishing village with roughly 1,000 residents. You won’t even find a CVS or Walgreens within a 45 minute drive (there is a small local pharmacy in town), but you will find total peace and quiet here. Arriving in Steinhatchee, FL is like stepping back in time. Old Florida charm, fishing huts, a beautiful river, and lots of great fishing awaits. Not to mention the amazing scavenger hunt of finding scallops. So bring your family and friends, grab that book you’ve been meaning to finish reading all year, and plan about 3-5 days of fun and relaxation.
We’ve stayed at Steinhatchee Landing Resort two years in a row now. It’s a quaint Old Florida style resort with a community pool, first come first serve marina, small petting zoo, and cute walking trails. The first year we stayed in the Saffron Cottage, and this year we stayed in the larger Presidential Cottage, named after former President and Mrs. Jimmy Carter (they vacationed there in 1992). A quick search on VRBO or on Steinhatchee Landing Resort’s website will give you endless alternative options.
Where to Go:
How Long it Takes to Get There from Fort Myers:
Where to Stay:
Steinhatchee Landing Resort
When to Go for Scalloping:
During the official Scallop season (Usually the 3rd Saturday in June through September 10th but always check this annually as seasons are subject to change)
Essentials to Bring:
- Your own boat or a rental boat from Sea Hag Marina
- Snorkel gear
- Rash guard
- Snacks for the boat
- Plenty of towels (you will be in and out of the water constantly so bring more than you think you’ll need)
- Groceries (there is a very small grocery store in Steinhatchee with a very limited selection)
- Coolers (for drinks on the boat and scallops)
- The appropriate number of life jackets and other safety gear mandated by the U.S. Coast Guard (safety first!)
- Your saltwater fishing permit (not sure where or how to get that? Read our previous blog post, "How to Get Your Saltwater Fishing License" here)
Things to Keep in Mind:
Always research the season and bag limits before you go, as these can change. This won’t be a luxury vacation with Hyatt Resort style amenities, but if you love to be out on the water and are looking for a fun excursion that EVERYONE will enjoy, give this a shot. There are a few local restaurants, but we recommend renting a house with at least a kitchenette.
So when you're swimming and bobbing around the surface of the Gulf of Mexico and see your first scallop you, too, will blubber excitedly through your snorkel, "I FOUND ONE!!!"