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Florida Shell Shop Treasure Island (New)

Why You Should Visit The Florida Shell Shop on Treasure Island

If you’re vacationing on Treasure Island, The Florida Shell Shop should be on your to-do list.

The Florida Shell Shop is a real treasure. Sure, you can buy “shells” at the local grocery or drugstore, or even try to harvest your own (please don’t!). But if you do that you’ll miss experiencing a nostalgic slice of Florida that is still thriving today – The Florida Shell Shop.

Read on for our tips on experiencing this tidbit of authentic Florida. 


Move slowly so you can take it all in. See the colorful carryalls mid-photo? These are for the shells you’re almost certain to want to collect.

What Can You Find at The Florida Shell Shop?

  • Shell wind chimes
  • Big shells
  • Shell wall signs
  • Small shells
  • Shell coasters
  • Shell greeting cards
  • Tiny shells
  • Shell jewelry
  • Coral
  • Real buoys
  • Fake buoys
  • Huge shells
  • Stained glass shells
  • Shell greeting cards
  • Really tiny shells
  • Shell Christmas ornaments
  • Shell identification guides
  • Shell books
  • Shell stickers
  • Shell food (Ok, not really shell food, but Florida-related sauces, candies and other treats)
  • Shell Christmas trees

They might even have a copy of The Shell Seekers lying around if you look.

Why The Florida Shell Shop Matters

The Florida Shell Shop was established in 1955.  That’s a long time ago folks.  Before I was born and I’m OLD. It’s also a family-owned business.
We are huge supporters of local businesses and family-owned enterprises, so we like to point them out just in case you are too.

Where to Rent Baby Gear – Pack Less Play More – Gulfport, Treasure Island & St Petersburg

3 Simple Steps For All The Gear Your Baby Needs

We know traveling with your baby or toddler can be stressful! They crave their routines and traveling is anything but that!

Cribs, car seats, stollers, high chairs, booster seats, pack n plays, bouncers, booster seats – I could go on and on.

Even if your car would hold all these items or the airlines would let you check them all, do you really want to? 

Enter Pack Less Play More. This “easy button” business helps you order your baby equipment online, have it delivered to your vacation rental and they’ll pick it up after you leave.  Three simple steps:

  1. Choose
  2. Reserve
  3. Secure Checkout

Fun in the sun and surf

Cleaning and Sterlizing

Babies and toddlers are messy! One of the reason we refer our guests to this wonderful company is the care they take in cleaning and sterilizing their equipment after each use.  

Pack Less Play More cleans their rental items with  100% all-natural cleaning products.  You can read about how the clean cribs, strollers, car seats, toy boxes, high chairs, booster seats, and bouncers here.

The Process is Easy and Packages are Available

The process is easy – just click and reserve. Have it delivered before you arrive.  

Packages are available too, with fun names like the “Everything is Covered Package” or the “Biggest Bang Package“.

A few baby-oriented beach items are available too. Sand toys, Kidco Go-Pods. and Beach Baby Cabana & Sunshades.

Beach Snoballs in St Pete Beach

Sugar And Soft Shaved Ice Fuse In Shivery, Sweet Awesomeness

Do you know anyone who doesn’t like shaved ice

Me neither. 

It just seems so indulgent. One, it’s sweet.  Two, it’s so cold.  Three, it’s so soft. Four, it just seems a little naughty.  (After all, didn’t your mother tell you not to eat snow? More than once?)

Well, hold on, because we’re about to take naughty to a whole new level.

It is a grave error to assume that shaved ice consumption requires hot weather.

Beach Snoballs in St Pete Beach is the purveyor of these delightful icy desserts they call Snoballs.    

Ever run out of syrup with a sno-cone? It’s just so sad! Hopeless even. That doesn’t happen with Snoballs. With finer ice than that found in Sno-cones, there’s no fighting between the syrup and the ice.  Ice and syrup are one.

Spike It!

You adults know what I’m talking about.  Add a little warmth to counteract all that coldness.

You can find Pina Colada, Margarita. Bahama Mama (my favorite) and more.  Or just add a shot to any flavor. Or two. Or three to any Snoball. Terry likes to go big on the Bahama Mana.

Have Fun Choosing

Add Some More Sugar!

Flavored syrups made with real sugar not enough carbs for you? It’s OK, we get it.

Then how about you add ice cream.  Yes, to your shaved ice.

Still not hitting the sugar receptors on all cylinders? You can add that food of the gods, Sweetened Condensed Milk.  Or Caramel Sauce, Chocolate Sauce or Whipped Cream.  

Experiment!

Ready for adventure?  No training wheels for you. You can build it yourself.  You pick a size, decide whether or not you want to add ice cream, choose up to three flavors and then select your toppings.

Do you find 60 flavor choices and over 25,000 combinations a bit, err, overwhelming after a simple day at the beach? Not to worry.

You can let someone else do the heavy-lifting and try one of the Signature or Specialty snoballs.  These include such creations as Salted Caramel Deluxe, German Chocolate and a Tangerine Dream.

The menu includes little icons to let you know which combos are their best sellers.

Pure and simple Bahama Mama! Watch the video and keep an eye on the spoon in the video below

Locally owned by just the nicest people (a mother daughter team), you won’t be disappointed.  Unless they’re closed.

Visit them at 7350 Gulf Blvd, St Pete Beach. Weekdays from 2 pm to 10 pm and weekends from noon to 10 pm.

Note to you old-timers.  Beach Snoballs used to be located on Treasure Island where Middle Grounds Cafe is.

Where to Buy Fresh Seafood – Gulfport, Treasure Island & St Petersburg

When Freshness Really Counts

As any chef or good cook will tell you, one of the keys to cooking success is to start with the freshest ingredients.

And I think there’s nowhere where that’s more important than fresh seafood..

We’ve all taken that stroll through a supermarket reeking of questionable seafood products and bleach, only to find our appetite and enthusiasm taking a dip. Or nosedive.  No pun intended.

Well worry not, we’ve got you covered! Read on for how to buy fresh fish and where to buy it in the Gulfport, Treasure Island, St Pete Beach and St Petersburg area.

“Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?”

Mary Oliver

How to Buy Fresh Fish

Step 1: Go to a local and reputable seafood shop.  See the next section “Where to Buy” below.

Step 2: Ask what the freshest fish is or what the catch of the day is.

Step 3: If you decided to buy anything other than what they tell you is freshest or the catch of the day, make sure what you’re buying isn’t “previously frozen”.

Step 4: Make sure the flesh is firm and shiny.  It should provide resistance when touched. Don’t go poking it with your uncovered finger, however. I saw one source that said the fish should look as if it might jump up and swim away. If only, the fish is thinking. If only…

Step 5: Sniff it. Yes it’s ok.  Fish isn’t supposed to smell fishy. It should smell fresh.

Step 6: If the poor creature still has its head intact, check the eyes.  They should be clear, not cloudy.  (You know, so he can see better…)

Step 7: Gills if present should be bright pink and wet. No slimeyness.  Ever.

Step 8: For fillets or steaks, make sure the meat doesn’t separate from itself.  If it does it isn’t fresh.

Step 9: If the fish still has its skin, make sure the skin is not discolored.  No brown or yellow edges. Mostly this means even, consistent coloring.

Line ’em up

Where to Buy #1 – Key West Shrimp Company

We get it.  You’re not in Key West.  And no, I don’t know why. But I do know that the entire business is a family affair, with their own boats and own stores.  One shop is located in St Pete Beach and the other in Madeira Beach.

“Most of our fish was swimming less than 24 hours ago.” Says it right on the website. You’d have to fish for it yourself to get it any fresher.  Like them on Facebook to find out what their specials and fresh catches are.

Read about their dedication to sustainability here.  And check out products available in their online store here.  (Fish Spread fans will find some things to love here!)  You can even ship some home if you’d like.

10 am to 6 pm every day.  St Pete Beach location is 7217 Gulf Blvd Ste 13 (727) 873-3913.  Madeira Beach location is 215 150th Ave. (727) 592-1885

Perfect Salmon

Where to Buy #2 – Mid-Peninsula Seafood

​

Both a restaurant and a full-service fish market.   Looking for something special? Call them! They just may be able to deliver.

Not sure which fish to buy? Visit their Fish School for tips on cooking and information on origin.

Mid Peninsula Seafood’s restaurant is one of my faves. Soups, sandwiches, dinners and big orders to feed a gang.  Fish Spread is available and something you don’t see just anywhere – hushpuppies! They call them Cornpuppies!

Find the full menu of prepared foods here.

Follow them on Facebook.

They’re gone fishing on Sundays.  Just keep that in mind.  Open Monday – Saturday 11 am – 9 pm.  400 49th St S, St Petersburg, FL 33707

Insider Tip: The Seafood Watch App

Download the app for your phone.  Sustainability at your fingertips!

Where to Buy #3 – Gulf Coast Seafood

Gulfport has two outstanding places to buy seafood.  “Fresh From the Boat“.

Gulf Coast Seafood began by providing products to stores, resorts and restaurants over a large part of Florida.  In response to repeated requests over the years, they are now selling to the public with their own retail shop!

Fresh fish in display cases.  Frozen products are vacuum packed). Head on over and catch tonight’s dinner.

Follow them on Facebook.

4921 9th Ave S, Gulfport (727) 321-1068   Open from 10 am – 6 pm Monday through Friday. 10 am to 4 pm Saturday

Chances are they have what you fancy

Where to Buy #4 – Don’s Dock & Wild Seafood Market

Don’s Dock has a wonderful fish market in addition to provide bait, ice and other gear you need to go fishing.

You can call 727-391-3223 for the Catch of the Day, see where your sustainably-caught seafood is coming from “Track Your Fish” and more.

Sauce and seasonings available too.  Online seafood market coming soon.

Check out the photo gallery for sample wares.  Those babies look ready to go home with you.

Don’s Dock Wild Seafood Market is located at 215 Boardwalk Place E, Madeira Beach, Fl. (727) 391-3223

Insider Tip: Sustainable Seafood?

View the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Consumer Guide here.

Recipe Suggestion: Perfect Salmon

Note: This cooking technique can be used on other varieties of fish too.  Just use your seasoning of choice!

Ingredients

  • Salmon filets, not steaks
  • Olive Oil
  • Soy Sauce
  • Maple Syrup

Spray or rub a small amount of olive oil on the bottom or skin-side of the fish.  Massage soy sauce into the top of the fish.  Place the fish skin side down on a small metal tray.  (Sizzle platters are perfect for this.) Pour a modest amount (approximately 1 T) of maple syrup over the top of the fish and spread it around.

Place the salmon in a COLD oven.   Now turn the oven on to 400 degrees and set a timer for 25 minutes. Your fish will be moist and flaky and the soy sauce maple syrup on top provides a slight crunch.

Enjoy!

Perfect every time

Disposing of Fish Parts – How to be a Good Neighbor!

No matter how fresh that fish is when you get it, eventually it won’t be.  If you have leftovers (or leftover “parts”), please don’t just toss them (bagged or not) in the trash can and let them marinate until trash day. Please help keep the trash cans clean and smelling the best they can by refrigerating your excess in a plastic bag and tossing out the morning of trash pickup.

Insider Tip:

Visit Allrecipes.com

For an amazing assortment of delicious seafood recipes

Sanding Ovations Masters Cup Treasure Island Florida

 

“Birth of Venus”

I was really blown away by the artistry, skill and creativity of the contestants.

To begin with, each sculpture has a designated plot and the installations are huge.  Sand is delivered on pallets (yes, pallets) so these folk are not out there with their $2 plastic buckets from the local beach store.

Beautiful weather for 2018

So for my first year my friend Rita and I only went on the next to last day, which is the day judging takes place.

This was a mistake.

If you have time it really makes sense to attend on the first and second days as well.  The finished products are sensational.  They’re thought-provoking, puzzling and sometimes appear to defy the laws of gravity.  And what would have made it even more special would have been to see how they were built.

Sculptors and Sculptures

2018 saw record-breaking attendance and the amazing group of sculptures and their impressive work is why.

Although I do not know the precise judging criteria of this specific event, typically the judges in sand sculpting event consider such things as:

  • How well the plot space was used – is there a lot of empty space
  • Did they use all the sand provided?
  • Is it a clever idea or a fresh approach to a subject
  • How difficult was it? Consideration of the use of cut-throughs, height, overhangs
  • Faithfulness to any theme
  • Execution

Keep scrolling to view many photos from this year’s event!

“Freedom” by Jonathan “Jobi” Bouchard of Canada

The 2018 First Place and People’s Choice Winner – “Freedom”.

Freedom” is one where I would have loved to hear the artist’s explanation of his work.

While I don’t understand the message, the sheer scale of the face and the multiple carve-outs and arches may help explain why this sculpture won First Place and also won the People’s Choice award this year.

Jobi Bouchard had previously won first place at this competition FIVE times!

“Internal Universe” by Aleksei Rybak of Russia

Sunshine Beach is on the north end, running from just south of John’s Pass for about seven blocks to 120th Ave. With fewer hotels and more residential areas, this stretch of Treasure Island is laid-back and loved by locals.

Aleksei Rybak takes a moment.

Aleksei is a graduate of the Moscow Art College of Applied Art.

insider tip: judging

Sculptures are evaluated on things like originality, technical difficulty, faithfulness to a theme, execution and use of space

“Birth of Venus” by Sue McGrew of Washington

I enjoyed “Birth of Venus” immensely.  The overall shape and the lovely curving tentacles were delightful.

Artist Sue McGrew working on her sculpture’s finishes

Note some of the tools on the bench in the foreground.  Small shovels, brushes and sprayers.

A sculpture within a sculpture

I’m not clear if this was the front or back.  But either way both are beautiful.

Sculptor Sue McGrew works in sand, ice and snow.  She has won a number of competitions.

“Fusion” by JOOheng Tan of Singapore

I can’t say that I fully appreciated “Fusion” at first viewing.  It seemed so simple relative to many of the others. But the more I looked the more I saw.  And I began to appreciate just how tall it was and how difficult it must be to stack that much sand in such a narrow tower.

And then to carve out the delicate shapes in that thin strip of an opening?  Our next photo has a close-up of the inside.

A sand odyssey anyone?

insider tip: JoBI Bouchard

Jobi Bouchard of Canada, and the 2018 First Place and People’s Choice Winner, has won this event six times.

JOOheng is from Singapore.  His work has been showcased in over 60 cities across more than 20 countries around the world.

Worth visiting is this link to a story about three 18-ton sand sculptures JOOheng was asked to make as part of an advertising campaign encouraging kids to get dirty.  The campaign was called “Dirt is Good“.  The link contains photos and a video showing the creation and behind-the-scenes execution.

Amazing!

Inside the monolith.  This can’t have been easy.

“Chagrin” by Carl Jara of Ohio

So much emotion conveyed here

insider tip: single or double?

Some sand sculpting competitions feature teams of sculptors, in addition to works by individuals.

The ledge was in place and the hollow part carved out so Carl had a place to stand to work on the top.

“Bobby Fisher” by Jakob “Kuba” Zimacek of Czech Republic

The subtitle of this entry is “the chess legend who broke all the patterns“.

Jakob has been sculpting since 2003 when he got his start on the beaches of southern Spain.  Since then he has won several prizes in international competitions.

“Bobby Fisher” – the chess legend who broke all the patterns

Jakob putting finishing touches to his piece.  Note the tanks filled with water and it looks like some sand?

The chessboard was one of the last components added, bringing it all together

“Circular Argument” by Abe Waterman of Canada

“Circular Argument” was one of my personal favorites.  It was fun to walk around and around trying to find a shot that would capture all 3 faces as well as the toilet and interior of the installation.

I cam sort of close, in the 4th photo below, but I should have moved a little further to the right.  In my defense I was fighting sun rather high in the sky and people.  Lots of them.

Sculptor Abe Waterman looks like he is enjoying himself

I bet these two couldn’t lose each other in a crowd if they wanted to. The face on the left agrees.

I’m no sand sculptor, but as with JOOheng Tan’s sculpture, making these tall vertical pieces must be tricky.  I would guess the sand has to be just the right amount of “compactness” – I admit I’m making that term up – and moistness to stay up like this?

Note the detail in the eyes and the catchlights of the pupils

Each face has its own unique expression. I guess this conversation is going down the toilet?

Abe making final touches with his repurposed pest control spraying tank.  Who knew?

“Whether Greek or Roman” by Rachel Stubbs of England

He (or she?) seems content to watch the crowds

Children posing for a photo op

I see dinner

insider tip: The weekend before Thanksgiving

The dates of this event vary from year to year but it is always held then weekend before Thanksgiving.

“Rodan Remixed” by Fergus Mulvany of Ireland

At first glance “Rodan Remixed” seemed like one of the smaller installations. But that was really because it was so compact.  Move a little closer and you began to appreciate the scale and the amount of sand all in this one block.

I was not there for the artist’s explanation of his piece, but my understanding is that three figures are represented.

Loving the sense of energy

Fergus Mulvany chatting with a couple of attendees on judging day

Imagine these shadows and textures later in the day

insider tip: 2018 videos on facebook

Click here to go to the Sanding Ovations Masters Cup Facebook page and view videos of the projects in the works along with the awards ceremony!

“To Be or Not To Be” by Jan Selen of Netherlands

Jan Selen’s piece is another one where I would loved to have heard the artist’s interpretation of their work.  However, even without that, I loved it.  The man with the snail being my favorite.

Jan Selen making some final touches

One figure is looking at the phone in his hand and the other at the snail in his hand

The full installation

One of my favorite elements

The universal “I’m looking at my phone” face

2018 Winners

  • First Place – “Freedom” by Jobi Bouchard
  • Second Place – “Circular Argument” by Abe Waterman
  • Third Place – “Rodan Remixed” by Fergus Mulvany
  • Sculptor’s Choice – a TIE between “Fusion” by JOOheng Tan and “Circular Argument” by Abe Waterman
  • People’s Choice – “Freedom” by Jobi Bouchard

Other Things to Do at This Event

In addition to the sculptures there are vendors selling arts, crafts, clothing, gift items and food.

Many of these vendors I had not seen at other shows, so they’re worth a visit all by themselves.

Photographing the Event

Besides going multiple days so that you can use your photos to tell a story, another thing you can do is to go earlier or later in the day. Generally speaking, photographing in the middle of the day (say between 10 and 2) is going to result in harsher light and less interesting shadows.

If you go earlier in the day or later in the day, the shadows on the sculptures will be softer and more interesting, depending on your position relative to the sculpture and the rising or setting sun. And an added bonus is that there may be fewer people.

By all means bring along your iphone for some video, but if you have a smaller camera with interchangeable lenses, you can worry less about the crowds. You can zoom in on some of the individual components.

Don’t be afraid to work your way around each installation, noting changes in the appearance.

Pamela Moore

 

” That’s the hell of sand castles.  They are always doomed.  That’s part of their beauty – their impermanence.”

Leave a comment below and tell us what you love about this event if you attended!

Next event: Nov 18th – 22nd, 20202018 marked my first trip to this event and it’s really difficult to overhype it.  I’ve never been to anything like this and so I didn’t know what to expect.

I knew it was invitation-only, so this isn’t Ward, June, Wally and the Beaver playing at the beach.  This is well-known and well-respected sculptors from around the world, spending 4 days of their lives in the elements and vying for a significant prize.

“Birth of Venus”

I was really blown away by the artistry, skill and creativity of the contestants.

To begin with, each sculpture has a designated plot and the installations are huge. Sand is delivered on pallets (yes, pallets) so these folk are not out there with their $2 plastic buckets from the local beach store.

Beautiful weather at this time of year

So for my first year my friend Rita and I only went on the next to last day, which is the day judging takes place.

This was a mistake.

If you have time it really makes sense to attend on the first and second days as well. The finished products are sensational. They’re thought-provoking, puzzling and sometimes appear to defy the laws of gravity. And what would have made it even more special would have been to see how they were built.

Sculptors and Sculptures

2018 saw record-breaking attendance and the amazing group of sculptures and their impressive work is why.

Although I do not know the precise judging criteria of this specific event, typically the judges in sand sculpting event consider such things as:

  • How well the plot space was used – is there a lot of empty space
  • Did they use all the sand provided?
  • Is it a clever idea or a fresh approach to a subject
  • How difficult was it
  • Consideration of the use of cut-throughs, height, overhangs
  • Faithfulness to any theme
  • Execution

Keep scrolling to view many photos from this year’s event!

2018 Winner: “Freedom” by Jonathan “Jobi” Bouchard of Canada

“Freedom” is one where I would have loved to hear the artist’s explanation of his work.

While I don’t understand the message, the sheer scale of the face and the multiple carve-outs and arches may help explain why this sculpture won First Place and also won the People’s Choice award this year.

Jobi Bouchard had previously won first place at this competition FIVE times

“Internal Universe” by Aleksei Rybak of Russia

Sunshine Beach is on the north end, running from just south of John’s Pass for about seven blocks to 120th Ave. With fewer hotels and more residential areas, this stretch of Treasure Island is laid-back and loved by locals.

Aleksei Rybak takes a moment. He is a graduate of the Moscow Art College of Applied Art.

Insider Tip: Judging

Sculptures are evaluated on things like originality, technical difficulty, faithfulness to a theme, execution and use of space

“Birth of Venus” by Sue McGrew of Washington

I enjoyed “Birth of Venus” immensely. The overall shape and the lovely curving tentacles were delightful.

Artist Sue McGrew working on her sculpture’s finishes

Note some of the tools on the bench in the foreground. Small shovels, brushes and sprayers.

A sculpture within a sculpture

I’m not clear if this was the front or back. But either way both are beautiful.

Sculptor Sue McGrew works in sand, ice and snow. She has won a number of competitions.

“Fusion” by JOOheng Tan of Singapore

I can’t say that I fully appreciated “Fusion” at first viewing. It seemed so simple relative to many of the others. But the more I looked the more I saw. And I began to appreciate just how tall it was and how difficult it must be to stack that much sand in such a narrow tower.
And then to carve out the delicate shapes in that thin strip of an opening? Our next photo has a close-up of the inside.

A sand odyssey anyone?

Insider Tip: JoBI Bouchard

Jobi Bouchard of Canada, and the 2018 First Place and People’s Choice Winner, has won this event six times.

JOOheng is from Singapore. His work has been showcased in over 60 cities across more than 20 countries around the world.

Worth visiting is this link to a story about three 18-ton sand sculptures JOOheng was asked to make as part of an advertising campaign encouraging kids to get dirty. The campaign was called “Dirt is Good“. The link contains photos and a video showing the creation and behind-the-scenes execution.

Amazing!

Inside the monolith. This can’t have been easy.

“Chagrin” by Carl Jara of Ohio

So much emotion conveyed here

Insider Tip: Single or double?

Some sand sculpting competitions feature teams of sculptors, in addition to works by individuals.

The ledge was in place and the hollow part carved out so Carl had a place to stand to work on the top.

“Bobby Fisher” by Jakob “Kuba” Zimacek of Czech Republic

The subtitle of this entry is “the chess legend who broke all the patterns“.

Jakob has been sculpting since 2003 when he got his start on the beaches of southern Spain. Since then he has won several prizes in international competitions.

“Bobby Fisher” – the chess legend who broke all the patterns

Jakob putting finishing touches to his piece. Note the tanks filled with water and it looks like some sand?

The chessboard was one of the last components added, bringing it all together

“Circular Argument” by Abe Waterman of Canada

“Circular Argument” was one of my personal favorites. It was fun to walk around and around trying to find a shot that would capture all 3 faces as well as the toilet and interior of the installation.

I cam sort of close, in the 4th photo below, but I should have moved a little further to the right. In my defense I was fighting sun rather high in the sky and people. Lots of them.

Sculptor Abe Waterman looks like he is enjoying himself

I bet these two couldn’t lose each other in a crowd if they wanted to. The face on the left agrees.

I’m no sand sculptor, but as with JOOheng Tan’s sculpture, making these tall vertical pieces must be tricky. I would guess the sand has to be just the right amount of “compactness” – I admit I’m making that term up – and moistness to stay up like this?

Note the detail in the eyes and the catchlights of the pupils

Each face has its own unique expression. I guess this conversation is going down the toilet?

Abe making final touches with his repurposed pest control spraying tank. Who knew?

“Whether Greek or Roman” by Rachel Stubbs of England

He (or she?) seems content to watch the crowds

Children posing for a photo op

I see dinner

Insider Tip: The weekend before Thanksgiving

The dates of this event vary from year to year but it is always held then weekend before Thanksgiving.

“Rodan Remixed” by Fergus Mulvany of Ireland

At first glance “Rodan Remixed” seemed like one of the smaller installations. But that was really because it was so compact. Move a little closer and you began to appreciate the scale and the amount of sand all in this one block.

I was not there for the artist’s explanation of his piece, but my understanding is that three figures are represented.

oving the sense of energy

Fergus Mulvany chatting with a couple of attendees on judging day

Imagine these shadows and textures later in the day

Insider Tip: Videos on facebook

Click here to go to the Sanding Ovations Masters Cup Facebook page and view videos of the projects in the works along with the awards ceremony!

“To Be or Not To Be” by Jan Selen of Netherlands

Jan Selen’s piece is another one where I would loved to have heard the artist’s interpretation of their work. However, even without that, I loved it. The man with the snail being my favorite.

Jan Selen making some final touches

One figure is looking at the phone in his hand and the other at the snail in his hand

The full installation

One of my favorite elements

The universal “I’m looking at my phone” face

Other Things to Do at This Event

In addition to the sculptures there are vendors selling arts, crafts, clothing, gift items and food.

Many of these vendors I had not seen at other shows, so they’re worth a visit all by themselves.

Photographing the Event

Besides going multiple days so that you can use your photos to tell a story, another thing you can do is to go earlier or later in the day. Generally speaking, photographing in the middle of the day (say between 10 and 2) is going to result in harsher light and less interesting shadows.

If you go earlier in the day or later in the day, the shadows on the sculptures will be softer and more interesting, depending on your position relative to the sculpture and the rising or setting sun. And an added bonus is that there may be fewer people.

By all means bring along your iphone for some video, but if you have a smaller camera with interchangeable lenses, you can worry less about the crowds. You can zoom in on some of the individual components.

Don’t be afraid to work your way around each installation, noting changes in the appearance.

” That’s the hell of sand castles. They are always doomed. That’s part of their beauty – their impermanence.”

Pamela Moore

Leave a comment below and tell us what you love about this event if you attended!

September St Petersburg Area Events Splashy Ventures

September Recurring Events

Gulfport: First Friday ArtWalk

St Pete: First Friday

St Pete: Second Saturday ArtWalk

Gulfport: Third Saturday ArtWalk

Gulfport: Tuesday Fresh Market

St Pete: Saturday Morning Market

Top Chefs

This dress-up worthy event benefits programs of PARC.  PARC’s mission is to provide opportunities for children & adults with developmental disabilities to exercise their independence and experience life to the fullest.
The Top Chefs event offers open bar drinks, samplings of entrees and amazing desserts prepared by some of the Bay Area’s best chefs working with students from PARC’s Culinary Program.
Proceeds benefit PARC’s programs. Read more about the history of PARC here.

Sample decadent desserts at PARC’s Top Chefs event

Night Market in St Pete

The Night Market in St Pete’s Warehouse Art’s District takes place about 5 times a year in the St Pete Side Lot located at 2133 2nd Ave South.  The best way to stay up to date on the events is to sign up for one on Facebook and then you’ll be alerted to future events.
Attending a market at night is so unusual that its worth a trip.  Local vendors dominate the event and there is plenty of food, shopping and drink.  The market is family and pet friendly.
The market typically lasts from 6 pm to 10 pm, but the 3 Daughters Brewery next door stays open later for an AfterParty!

Clearwater Super Boat National Championship & Festival

180 mph of fun.  Big. Fast. Super Boats.  The 2017 event saw 2,500 boats lining the beaches of the 2.5 mile-long race course.

VIP watch parties are available from sponsor hotels, restaurants and condos along the route.

Parades.  Food vendors. Live Music. More. Oh, and boat races!

2020 Dates: September 25-27

Clearwaer Super Boat 2017

Gulfport Gecko Fest

GeckoFest is Gulfport’s wacky answer to the end of summer.  As noted previously, Gecko’s are Gulfport’s unofficial mascot and definitely the town’s favorite reptile.

GeckoFest takes place in Gulfport’s Waterfront District and is family friendly. There’s food, live music, kids’ activities, street performance artists and a parade.

It might occur to you that a festival named after a gecko might have a colorful backstory and you’d be right. You can read the short history of how the festival got its start, or you can read the O-FISH-al GECKO legends!

(The date for GeckoFest moves between August and September each year, but the Gecko-related events that lead up to GeckoFest are almost always in August.). 2020 Date: September 5th.

10 am to 10 pm.  The Gulfport Trolley and Gulfport’s GetGO offers transportation options so you can attend without worrying about where to park.

Gulfport Gecko Fest Mascot

Renting Cabanas and Lounges – Treasure Island

How to Rent Cabanas and Lounges

If you head out to the beach on Treasure Island or St Pete Beach, you’re sure to see colorful lounges and cabanas.
On Sunshine Beach they are sunshine yellow.
On Treasure Island Beach they’re a rich turquoise and blue. Lest you be prompted to think that you have won the lottery, or that you’re at the Magic Kingdom and all your wishes have come true (sorry, wrong town) or that it is first come, first served…I’m here to make certain you know that these items are not free.

Umbrellas and lounges are taken down each evening and put up each morning by an attendant

Beach Service Operators

The operators of these services vary according to beach location.

Taylor Beach Service

Taylor Beach Service operations spans from 104th to 120th Ave on Gulf blvd, including the area adjacent to the Municipal Beach at 112th Ave

Hubbard’s Marina Cabana Rentals

​​Hubbard’s operates in the area around Gulf Front Park at 104th Ave and south to the 99th Ave.

Sand Dunes Beach Services

Sand Dunes (also the Taylor family) operates the cabanas and lounges on Madeira Beach, St Pete Beach and Upham Beach (part of St Pete Beach).

​These cabanas and loungers are operated by Hubbard’s Marina in the area of Gulf Front Park and southward for about 5 blocks.

Services at Sunshine Beach and Municipal Beach

Sunshine Beach is the beach closest to our Treasure Island home rentals.

Insider Tip: How to pay

Taylor Beach Services takes payment in cash, and by check in limited circumstances.  No credit cards.  Hubbards prefers cash, but can take a card in a pinch. Prepare to have an imprint of your card taken if you choose the credit route!

Availability and Pricing

Following is availability and pricing for equipment at Sunshine Beach and Municipal Beach, operated by Taylor Beach Service.

Cabana with two lounges. There’s a 2 hour minimum with a charge of $15.

3 hours – $20

One day – $30

2 Days or More – $25 per day

Per week – $150 per week

Extra lounge – $5 per day

Prices include tax.  No refunds. Credit days for bad weather.


Your haven for the day

Insider Tip: Umbrellas

Umbrellas are usually rented by the day due to weather restrictions and safety protocols. No one wants to be injured by a flying umbrella!

How To Rent From Taylor Beach Services

It’s pretty easy! Just take a seat. The attendant will follow up with you and you handle payment with him or her. Lounges “close” at 6 pm, but I’ve been told that if you want to keep them for longer, say to have a nice comfy place to relax and enjoy sunset in the summer, they can show you how to stack, stow and lock them up when you’re finished.

Services at Treasure Island Beach

Cabanas, lounges, paddleboards, bikes and kayaks on this section of the beach are operated by Hubbard’s Marina.  They have the turquoise cabanas and blue cushions on the loungers.
Hubbard’s rentals run from the beach in front of Gulf Front Park and go all the way south down the beach to the Island Inn which is a large hotel on the right side of Gulf Blvd. (About 5 blocks south of Publix.)

Availability and Pricing

Cabana sets – 2 hours for $15
Cabana sets – 3 hours for $20
Cabana sets – all day for $30
Lounge chairs plus umbrella – $15
Lounger only – $5
Umbrella only – $10

It’s very easy to swim, play and just generally hang out here.

How To Rent From Hubbard’s Marina

Reservations can be made by calling 727-393-1947. If you make reservations they can work with you and have specials for multiple rentals, as well as breaks on extended and weekly rentals. If you’re renting without reservations, feel free to sit until the attendant comes by to collect.

You can park at the Gulf Front Park Lot at 104th Ave and Gulf Blvd, or at several others outlined in the downtown parking map.

On Sunday evenings this area of the beach is also home to the Treasure Island Drum Circle.  (If you’re trying to find the Drum Circle from the street rather than the beach, it’s across from Publix and Safeway, near the Bilmar Hotel and the Thunderbird Hotel.)

Insider Tip: extended length equipment rentals

If you rent with Taylor Beach Service in advance for longer than one day, the equipment is tagged with your name for the duration of your stay

Schiller Water Bikes can be rented from Hubbard’s

Services at Madeira Beach, St Pete Beach and Upham Beach

Cabana rentals at Madeira Beach, St Pete Beach, Pass-A-Grille and Upham Beach are operated by Sand Dunes Beach Service, also part of the Taylor family.

Insider Tip: paddleboards and kayaks

Hubbard’s also rents out paddleboards, kayaks and beach bikes from the beach location.

The Taylor family operates Surf Rentals at 121st Ave behind the large hotel Sunset Vistas Beach Front Suites also has kayaks and paddleboards for rent.

Sand Dunes beach equipment rentals at Pass-A-Grille

Conclusion

All of these are operated by local, long-running family businesses. Attendants are professionals and can help stake umbrellas and get everything set up where you’d like it. Prices are reasonable and renting is easy. Restrooms, showers and parking lots are near each location that has these cabana rentals. Great choices if you want to show up and relax and not get a workout hauling your gear to the beach!

“In the waves of change we find our direction.”

Anonymous

Read more about Treasure Island’s beaches in our guide!

Bikes Gulfport and Treasure Island

Bike Routes and Rentals in Gulfport and Treasure Island

With so much beautiful weather year-round, Florida is a natural spot for a bike ride.

You can ride around the local neighborhoods, checking out what’s happening with local projects, visiting shops and restaurants, the Tuesday Fresh Market, the Gulfport Marina, the Treasure Island Friday Market, bike to Gator’s for lunch.  There are so many quiet neighborhood streets you can just cruise around on and that may be all you need.

However, if you’d like to venture further afield, read on!

“The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea.”

Isak Dinesen

Winning Bike Rides

We’ve outlined our top riding suggestions below and provided rental spots near each ride.
You can hop on the Pinellas Trail, head out to Fort DeSoto Park or bike beachside along the Treasure Island Beach Trail.

Riding on the road is not necessary – we have safe trails and pathways!

Ride #1 – The Pinellas Trail

Officially named The Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail, this rail-to-trail urban pathway runs from St Petersburg north to Tarpon Springs. In 2017 an additional 5-mile section was opened into Pasco County.  The pathway is part of the Coast to Coast Connector, a developing trail network that will span 250 miles across the state.

Gulfport Spur

There is a Gulfport “spur” to the trail, just north of Gulfport Boulevard, off of 55th St near Tomilson Park.  The section closest to Gulfport travels through mostly urban landscapes, crossing streets with dozens of pedestrian bridges.  The street crossings that are not protected via an overbridge almost always have a marked crosswalk with flashing lights.

Ride Planning Resources

The link below is an invaluable resource in planning your ride.  It contains link to maps, links to rules, links to audio tours, bike rental locations along the rental and emergency assistance information.

http://www.pinellascounty.org/trailgd/

Gulfport Spur to the Pinellas Trail

Insider Tip: ABC Bicycle Rentals – The Pinellas Trail

Helmets included at no charge! Rentals include “Flat Packs” and water bottle cages.

ABC Bicycles is a bike shop near the trail and I have used them for purchasing bike accessories as well.  They’re located very close to the trail, so you may be able to drive here, get bikes and head out on your way. Rentals include “Flat Packs” and water bottle cages.  Hybrids include kickstands and a lock.  Helmets are included at no charge or you may use your own.  Hybrid, Road and Electric Assist bikes are available!

Here’s the link to general rental information:  http://www.abcbicycles.com/rentals

Complete rental policies at ABC Bicycles can be found here: http://www.abcbicycles.com/about-us/policies#bicycle-rentals

Maybe a sunset ride is in your future?

Ride # 2 Fort DeSoto

Fort De Soto park is worth a visit for many reasons besides the multi-use trail.

It is the largest park within the Pinellas County Park system and is made up of five interconnected islands, or “keys”.

Total acreage is 1,136!

There are more than 328 species of birds here, an historic fort, 7 miles of waterfront (including almost 3 miles of beautiful white sandy beach, a boat launch, playground, restrooms, food concession area, two fishing piers, a nature trail, a dog park and ferry service to Egmont Key!

So you can see that there are plenty of reasons to venture out on a bike on the 12-foot-wide asphalt multipurpose trail.

Ride Resources

The park service has a wonderful resource-rich webpage to the park and its features here: http://www.pinellascounty.org/park/05_ft_desoto.htm

Insider Tip: United Park Services – Fort DeSoto

Ten types of bicycles built for one to eight people!

Rentals at Fort DeSoto – United Park Services

The rental location is located on the multipurpose trail behind the Fort & Gift Shop.  Phone number is 727.864.1376.  Ten unique types of bicycles built for one to eight people!

http://www.unitedparkservices.com/bike.html

Nice, wide flat surface to ride along the Treasure Beach Trail – but under construction (or repairs?) August 2018

Insider Tip: Cycling resources

For a list of bike rental locations – Check Here
To plan out your ride – Check Here

TIBT Sign at the 119th Ave entrance

Ride #3 – Treasure Island Beach Trail

On the southern end of Treasure Island is Sunset Beach, which runs from the 119th Ave S to Gulf Front Park.  (If you see the Shake Shop on Gulf Boulevard, you’re about 1 block north.)
There are other beach access roads along the way linked to Gulf Boulevard street access.
The concrete path is flanked by a short wall on the beach side.  The wall helps keep sand off the trail while still allowing full beach views. (Note: As of August 2018 the trail is under construction at multiple locations to repair cracks.  It’s annoying enough to have to get off the trail if you’re walking.  If you’re biking its a non-starter until construction is complete.  I would estimate it is completed by some time in September. Treasure Island’s website says it is supposed to be completed in August.)
Anyway, one of the nice things about the trail is it’s width, smooth surface, unobstructed views of the beach landscape and access to restaurants (and some condos) along the way.  You can get to Sloppy Joe’s from this trail.

Schiller water bikes available for rental through Hubbards at either Johns Pass Marina or on the beach

Bike Rental Options on Treasure Island

Treasure Island Boat Rentals, Mad Beach Sports
(including electric bikes and fat tire bikes)
Hubbards Marina
(Schiller water bikes)
Erika’s Bikes, Boats

Partial map of Coast to Coast Connector Network

Coast to Coast Connector

If you’re an avid cyclist, you may already know about Florida’s Coast-to-Coast Connector.  When completed, this connection of bike paths will link communities between St Petersburg and Titusville.

The goal is to provide a safe and scenic way for visitors to explore Florida on bike and on foot.  The “C2C” is a major priority within the Florida Greenways and Trails System Plan.

Click on the map above to be taken to the full version on the website.

Click HERE to view a video about the C2C.

The coverage C2C network is really something to behold.

When we drive from Texas to Florida, we usually avoid I-75 (very prone to frequent accidents and long backups), which means we cut down from I-10 and go down 98 through Perry, Chiefland (GPS Bermuda Triangle), Crystal River, Homosassa Springs and then pick up 589 Toll, the Suncoast Parkway.

The Suncoast Trail parallels the toll road in that area.  Read more about the Suncoast Trail here.

For now be warned that there is a gap between the Pinellas Trail and the Suncoast Trail, north of Tarpon Springs.  (If you visit the map above you’ll see that the Coast to Coast Connector is estimated at 250 miles, with current gaps estimated at 69 miles. Additional funding is needed to complete it).

Insider Tip: Splashy Houses with bikes

The Shack & Flunky; Casa Sol, Harbor Mist. Isle Be Back, Tyn & Marty’s Old Fashioned Beach Cottage

Splashy Bikes

Splashy does have bicycles in a general bike pool, however they may not be available to you during your stay.

Also, not all of our rentals are large enough to keep the bikes inside while you’re not riding them.

Splashy bikes and bikes with homes are not to be taken outside of the general neighborhood. (In other words, please don’t load them up in your vehicle and take them to Fort DeSoto).

Riding on the Pinellas Trail is fine, but keep in mind that we will not be able to come get you should the bike need maintenance.

“The cure for anything is salt water: At the beach, treasure is what we find, not what we buy.”
From How to Live at the Beach

Sandy Gingras

Bike Etiquette

If you’re using the bikes at one of our rentals, we ask that you do not ride them in the sand or lay them down in the sand.

If you’re renting a bike, please follow the rules they’ve laid out for you in your agreement.

Leave a comment below and tell us if you have a favorite ride!

Florida Shell Shop Treasure Island

Why You Should Visit The Florida Shell Shop on Treasure Island

If you’re vacationing on Treasure Island, The Florida Shell Shop should be on your to-do list.

The Florida Shell Shop is a real treasure. Sure, you can buy “shells” at the local grocery or drugstore, or even try to harvest your own (please don’t!). But if you do that you’ll miss experiencing a nostalgic slice of Florida that is still thriving today – The Florida Shell Shop.

Read on for our tips on experiencing this tidbit of authentic Florida


Move slowly so you can take it all in. See the colorful carryalls mid-photo? These are for the shells you’re almost certain to want to collect.

What Can You Find at The Florida Shell Shop?

  • Shell wind chimes
  • Big shells
  • Shell wall signs
  • Small shells
  • Shell coasters
  • Shell greeting cards
  • Tiny shells
  • Shell jewelry
  • Coral
  • Real buoys
  • Fake buoys
  • Huge shells
  • Stained glass shells
  • Shell greeting cards
  • Really tiny shells
  • Shell Christmas ornaments
  • Shell identification guides
  • Shell books
  • Shell stickers
  • Shell food (Ok, not really shell food, but Florida-related sauces, candies and other treats)
  • Shell Christmas trees

They might even have a copy of The Shell Seekers lying around if you look.

Why The Florida Shell Shop Matters

The Florida Shell Shop was established in 1955.  That’s a long time ago folks.  Before I was born and I’m OLD. It’s also a family-owned business.
We are huge supporters of local businesses and family-owned enterprises, so we like to point them out just in case you are too.

The Florida Shell Shop at 9901 Gulf Blvd, Treasure Island.

Take Action!

So what are you waiting for? Hop in your car, head on over, grab a shopping bucket and find a treasure-trove of beautiful shell gifts!

Then come back and tell us what you found that you couldn’t live without in the comments below!

Visit the shop’s website for hours and address here.

Unique Shopping Experiences in Treasure Island Florida

We will be updating this list over the next couple of months, but in the meantime, here is the list:

John’s Junk – Dunedin

Vine & Grind – Treasure Island

Botiki – Gulfport

Domain – Gulfport

The Florida Shell Shop – Treasure Island

Suncoast Surf Shop – Treasure Island

Dali Museum Shop – St Petersburg

Haslam’s Book Store – St Petersburg

Chihuly Collection Store – St Petersburg

One Lucky Dog – St Petersburg

Morean Glass Studio and Hot Shop – St Petersburg

Cerulean Blu Swim and Resort Wear Boutique – St Petersburg

Cuban Paradise – St Petersburg

Florida Orange Groves Winery – South Pasdena

WagonWheel Flea Market and Mustang Flea Market – St Petersburg

Deja Vue – St Petersburg

Tarpon Sponge Inc at the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks, Tarpon Springs

Mazzaro’s – St Petersburg