Cruise to this unspoiled tropical island aboard the ISLAND HOPPER, a 34' stable and fast catamaran power vessel, and discover ecosystems shaped by hurricanes, waves and the region’s ever changing tides.
Shell Key, accessible only by boat, offers guests some of the finest locations for exotic tropical shelling found anywhere in western Florida. Shell Key is also a shorebird sanctuary, home to one of the densest shorebird nesting populations in America. Come relax, search for shells along the beach or even snorkel the turquoise waters off the white sand beach!
Once we arrive at Shell Key, you will have approximately 1.5-2 hours to explore the island and participate in any activities you like! Enjoy:
- Shelling for exotic tropical shells
- Excellent viewing opportunities of exotic birds and wildlife
- Snorkeling in the turquoise blue waters
- Free shelling bag to collect your shells in
- Complimentary snorkeling gear
- Free soda and bottled water
What Is Not Included?
- Do I have to purchase my tickets in advance?
- We highly recommend purchasing your tickets in advance in order to guarantee your space on board as our trips often do sell out. Tickets can be purchased online or over the phone using either a Visa, Mastercard or American Express card.
- Can I place my name on a waiting list if this cruise is sold out?
- You may add your name to a waiting list, but cancellations are rare. It is best to choose another date/time if you are able to attend another cruise.
- What types of wildlife can we expect to see on this cruise?
- Dolphins, Manatees (during our warmer months), and an incredible array of over 20 species of birds. Additionally, Shell Island is a 'Bird Sanctuary' that supports seasonal migration of numerous species of birds.
- When are we likely to see Manatee?
- Manatee viewings are seasonal and usually occur from the spring to the fall. Fortunately Dolphin Landings Charter Boat Center is located adjacent to a very large 'grass flat' that we refer to as the 'Salad Bar' due to the frequent Manatee sightings!
- Is this trip good for young children?
- Yes! Children of all ages enjoy this excursion. Please note that all children ages 12 and under are able to purchase a ticket at the reduced child ticket price, and children 2 and under (babe in arms) are complimentary.
- Can I bring a stroller on board?
- Due to the layout of the vessels, strollers are not permitted on board. We stow them securely at the Dock Office.
- Is the trip handicapped accessible?
- We are happy to do everything in our power to help you board the vessel and enjoy your outing with us. The trip may be accessible for you depending on your situation - please contact us directly via the "Contact DolphinLands" link to discuss your particular situation before purchasing tickets.
- Can pregnant women attend this cruise?
- Yes. We cruise in the calm waters of Boca Ciega Bay, and the vessel is extremely stable and comfortable.
- Is there tax?
- Yes, there is a local sales tax of 7% that will be applied to your ticket purchase. Gratuities are not included in the ticket price and are graciously appreciated for excellent service.
- Are you open year-round?
- Yes, we operate year-round, with the exception of Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
- What happens if it rains on the day of the cruise?
- If we experience extreme adverse weather, particularly with lightning, with no immediate end in sight, we will gladly reschedule your ticket or provide credit for a future event. Your choice. In most cases we might just delay the cruise a little bit until the weather passes.
- What sort of boat will we be on?
- You will be cruising on a 34 foot 'Catamaran Deck Boat' with twin 4 cycle outboard engines. The ISLAND HOPPER is fast, smooth, stable, and pulls up right ON the beach for easy and safe disembarking on the Island. Cruise time to the island is approximately 30 minutes.
- Is the boat propelled by wind power or by a motor?
- The 'Island Hopper' has twin 4 cycle outboards which are extremely quiet and very low impact on the enviroment.
- Are there life jackets on board?
- Yes, our boats are US Coast Guard certified & inspected and carry enough life jackets for every passenger on board. However, due to the size of the vessel, and our route, you will not be required to wear a life jacket during the excursion. Before each trip our Captains give a safety and orientation speech to the customers.
- Is the trip narrated?
- Not in the sense that there is a script. But the Captains and Crew are consistently fielding questions, and sharing their local knowledge about the area. Our goal is to get our customers to say 'this is the best excursion we had on our vacation'!
- Is there seating on board?
- There is bench seating all along the sides, and at the back of the vessel, as well as some in the center.
- Can I bring my own food and drink?
- Sure, you are welcome to bring your own beverages (excluding alcohol) and/or snacks and lunch with you on board. Note that bottled water and soft drinks are included in the ticket price. Please no glass containers!
- Can I bring a cooler on board?
- All our vessels have oversize coolers on board and guests are welcome to use them. If you do bring a cooler, we prefer that it be a smaller compact one.
- Will any food/drink be available for purchase?
- Complimentary soft drinks and bottled water are provided in our oversize cooler with ice. As we are located in a large shopping center, just steps away are a grocery store, liquor store, and pharmacy.
- Are there bathrooms on board the boat?
- The Island Hopper does not have a restroom on board, and there are no restrooms on the island either, so guests are encouraged to utilize the shore side restrooms prior to departure.
- How far from the coast will the boat travel?
- Shell Key is about 4 nautical miles away on the route we travel.
- Does the boat stop at any point?
- Our destination, and only stop is Shell Island. The boat will stay docked at Shell Island while our guests explore the island, go shelling or snorkeling.
- Will umbrellas be available?
- Yes, beach umbrellas are available for rent at the dock office at $5 for the day. Or if you like, you may bring your own beach umbrella on board.
- Will I get seasick?
- Seasickness is not an issue,as we will be cruising on the smooth and calm waters of Boca Ciega Bay.
- Is there shade available on the boat?
- More than half of the vessel has a hard cover providing ample shade for those that want it.
- Can I smoke on the boat?
- Smoking is not permitted on this vessel at all due to the gasoline powered motors.
- Will we be able to go shelling?
- Yes, you will have the opportunity to search for shells on this excursion and a shelling bag will be provided at no additional cost.
- Do I need to know how to swim?
- Because we disembark everyone off on the island, there is no swimming necessary, and if you choose to snorkel, you may do so from the beach in any depth of water you are comfortable in.
- How much time is allowed for snorkeling?
- Approximately 1.5 hours to 2 hours.
- Can I bring my own snorkeling equipment?
- Yes you may, and if you're an avid snorkeler, we recommend you do so!
- Do you offer prescription masks?
- Sorry, prescription masks are not available.
- How old must children be to snorkel? Is there an age limit?
- There is not a particular age limit to be able to snorkel. We have both adult and child snorkels, but recommend that you bring or purchase or bring a snorkel for your smaller, younger children. Note that snorkeling is unsupervised, so it is up to the parents to watch their children and assess each child's ability to snorkel.
- Do you provide wetsuits?
- We do not provide wetsuits, just a mask and tube for snorkeling.
- Are the waters we snorkel in safe?
- Shell Island is situated between the Gulf of Mexico, and the Intracoastal Waterway and is considered a very safe area to swim and snorkel. We disembark all our guests directly on the island, and it's your choice if, where and how far you snorkel. This area of Florida is somewhat of a giant sandbar, so you're not going to find 'Nemo.' You will discover some shells, coral, seafans, etc. before they wash up on the beach, as well as possibly see some of the indigenous smaller fish of the area.
- Will I see sharks?
- It's unlikely; however, there is a 90% chance that we'll see Dolphins either on the way to the island, or on the way back!
- How far are you from where I'm staying?
- The following travel times are approximate - please allow for extra time for heavy traffic times. Orlando - 1.5 hours; Lakeland - 1 hour; Clearwater - 45 minutes to 1 hour; Sarasota - 45 minutes to 1 hour; Tampa - 40 minutes to 1 hour; Bradenton - 30 to 45 minutes; City of St. Petersburg - 20 to 30 minutes.
- How early should I arrive prior to the departure time?
- If staying on St. Pete Beach, please arrive 15 minutes prior to departure times. Off the beach, please arrive 30 minutes prior.
- Is there parking?
- Yes, we have free parking on site for your convenience!
- Are private charters offered?
- Yes! Private charters are available for any length of time and for any occasion, such as birthdays, anniversaries, proposals, cocktail cruises, weddings, ash scatterings, engagement parties, rehearsal dinners, etc. Also available are team building charters utilizing multiple sailing yachts. To inquire about setting up a private charter, click on the "Contact DolphinLands" link.
- Do you offer gift certificates?
- Yes. Gift Certificates are available for any cruise we offer. To request a gift certificate, click on the "Contact DolphinLands" link.
- Non-refundable, cannot be rescheduled.
- Once purchased, tickets cannot be refunded and cannot be rescheduled because your space is being guaranteed at the event.
- Activity may be cancelled due to severe weather.
- The activity usually runs in light rain and other moderate weather conditions, but the seller may cancel the activity up to an hour before the start time in the event of severe or unsafe weather conditions. If the seller cancels the event, ticket-holders will be allowed to reschedule tickets (subject to availability) or receive credit for a future event.
- Participants must sign a liability waiver.
- All guests must sign a liability waiver prior to the trip's departure. Guests under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian sign the waiver on their behalf.
Dolphin Landings Charter Boat Center
It all starts with Captain Dan Peretz; a man who inspires commitment and balance, both on and off the water. Dolphin Landings’ crews are professionals who eagerly perpetuate this philosophy on each and every trip.
Take a ride aboard any of our Sailing, Fishing, and Cruising vessels and you’ll see first hand how Dolphin Landings offers our guests much more than a great boat ride in the sunshine state!