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How to Clean Seashells: Anna Maria Island Insider Tips

How to Clean Seashells: Anna Maria Island Insider Tips

Day 3 at your Anna Maria Island vacation rental and it is starting to resemble a seashore in its own right. Bags of moon snails, calico scallops, kittens paw, and banded tulips spill out onto the kitchen table as though they are trying to escape. You even managed to find a few of the elusive sand dollar and even one sea fan skeleton. There are at least two bags dedicated to the coquina shells because your daughter says “they look purply and I want to make necklaces for my friends”.

anna maria island seashell guide for vacation rental guests

Planning a trip to Anna Maria Island? Check out our amazing selection of beachfront Anna Maria Rentals and Anna Maria Vacation Rentals right in Anna Maria City!

It is a beautiful day and you have the window open to enjoy the smell of the ocean breeze when something less pleasant catches a ride on the air. After a moment of investigation, you realize that it is the bags of beach bounty that seems to be the source of the offending odor.

Have no fear, the pool water is here! I learned this on my first vacation to Anna Maria Island before we moved here. We had so many shells from Bradenton Beach that I think we paid twice the baggage fee on the way home!

If you’d like to rent a property from us near Bradenton Beach – you can find two of the best at South Beach Village # 115 and South Beach Village #111

That same bucket you used to make the epic sand art earlier in the day can come in handy once again. Start by brushing most of the sand out, then rinsing with water to not get sand in the pool. Fill halfway with water from the pool, if you have a vacation rental with a pool, then simply add shells so that they are all completely immersed. Leave overnight and voila most of that ‘not quite the beach smell you like’ is gone!

No pool because you went for direct waterfront rental property? No worries. Some hydrogen peroxide and water from your local Publix at a 10:1 ratio in the same multipurpose bucket will also do the trick.

Fast forward to unpacking the luggage after the flight home. You now have your own personal collection of bubble shells, fighting conch, tritons trumpet, and yes, even lightning whelk. Because, as your son astutely pointed out, you didn’t have those ones yet.

As you sort through your treasures you find some perfect specimens. Alas, more often than not they have a bit of a green tinge and a crusty, leathery outer coating in places. That simply won’t do! You have big decorating plans for those shells. The good news is that there are simple ways to get those shells back to their former luster.

How to Clean Seashells

What You’ll Need:

Time: 5 minutes
Equipment: Bowl or Bucket
Tools: Soft Toothbrush
Cost: $5-$10


The eco friendly ways

1~The miracle of Vinegar! Simple, easy and cheap. Poor a small amount of vinegar into a bowl or cup. Use a soft toothbrush saturated with the vinegar and gently scrub the shell. You may have to do this several times. Then wash with soap and water. Don’t soak in the vinegar though, it will cause a reaction between the acid in the vinegar and the calcium carbonate of the shells. The shells will actually dissolve. It is kind of fun to watch it happen to at least one though:-)

2~ Another cleaning wonder is hydrogen peroxide. Simply put the shells in a bowl and poor enough peroxide to sufficiently cover the shells and let soak for several hours or until a film covers the top. The peroxide has invasive properties making easy work of any bacterial cleanup. Rinse thoroughly and place to dry on a towel.

The not-so eco friendly ways

1~ Soak your seashells in a 50/50 solution of bleach and water. The length of time depends on the type of seashells and the number of seashells being cleaned. Just be sure to remove them when the periostracum (that crusty, leathery covering that I mentioned earlier) is gone. I am not a huge fan of bleaching because the shell can absorb the smell. It can also lighten the color. If you try bleaching your shells, try not to leave them in the solution too long.

2~ Without question muriatic acid is the fastest and easiest way to clean your shells. It will almost magically strip the shell of any barnacles or algae and bring the color to back to life! Use only glass jars and plastic tongs due to the caustic reaction with muriatic acid and metals. Wear gloves and eye protection. In your first jar place 3/4 of a cup of water and 1/4 of muriatic acid. Fill the second jar with plain water. Take the plastic tongs and dip in the first jar for about 3-4 seconds then immediately place into the jar with water and place on paper towel or rags to dry. Be careful not to splash any of the liquid onto your skin. It can cause a nasty little burn. You can pick up muriatic acid at a local hardware store or pool supply company. Some states won’t allow you to flush hydrochloric acid unless you neutralize it first. Neutralize hydrochloric acid with baking soda. Wearing your protective garments and working in a ventilated area well away from children, pets, heat and metals, prepare a base mix. Mix 1 lb of baking soda with plenty of water. Slowly add the hydrochloric acid. The mixture will fizz. Add more baking soda until the fizzing stops. This means the hydrochloric acid is neutralized and can now be flushed down the sink with large quantities of water. I have only used this method once. It made me extremely nervous to work with such a strong acid.

Other Methods

There seem to be about a million and one ways to clean shells. My neighbor uses ants to remove any decaying material. I have heard that boiling works well. Some sites will tell you to bury them or freeze them. One of my friends puts her shells in the dishwasher. I have not tried any of those yet….. but you never know. If you know of another effective way please let me know by commenting below.

Now that you have a treasure trove of clean shells check our next blog at islandreal.com for suggestions on how to preserve them and some fabulous costal design tips using your new collection!

Why Choose Anna Maria Island For Your Next Florida Beach Vacation?

Why Choose Anna Maria Island For Your Next Florida Beach Vacation?

On this page Our Beaches, Our Transportation, Our Hospitality, Our Location, Our Entertainment Options, Our Beachfront Rental Selection

The sunshine state is filled with beautiful beaches and entertaining cities to spend your next vacation. With so many great choices it can be difficult to decide the best place to visit for your next beachfront vacation in Florida. Here at Island Real Estate, we offer amazing Anna Maria Island vacation rentals – and maybe we’re a little bit biased but we feel you can’t go wrong with a vacation on our gorgeous white sandy beach island. Here are all the reasons why you should choose Anna Maria Island for your next Florida vacation!

Anna Maria Island Beachfront Views
Anna Maria Island Beachfront Views

6 Reasons To Visit Anna Maria Island, FL For Your Next Vacation

Our Beaches

Set along the central part of Florida’s western gulf coast Anna Maria is a barrier island with multiple white sugary sand beaches. Stroll along the western shoreline dipping your toes in the water, let your children build beautiful sand dollar sandcastles, or just take in the gorgeous painted skies of our majestic sunsets. There are a number of beaches to choose from depending on whether you’re looking for something perfect for the family or something a little more private. Holmes Beach, Bradenton Beach, Coquina Beach, and Bean Point Beach all offer a fantastic way to spend your vacation. 

Our Transportation

Part of the charm of staying on Anna Maria Island is the fact that you can park your car at your Florida beach rental for the week and enjoy our quaint way of getting around the island. A free trolley that runs the length of the Island going from Anna Maria City Pier at the north end down to Coquina Beach at the southern tip makes it easy to travel around. On top of that there are numerous golf cart rental, bike rental, or even segway rental options as well. And the island has many biking and walking paths to make getting from one place to another a breeze. 

Our Hospitality

Because we are on an island off of the main strip we offer our guests good old-fashioned Florida hospitality. The residents of Anna Maria Island have fought hard to maintain the friendly yesteryear feel of Florida and welcome guests with open arms. We invite you to see for yourself how lovely staying on Anna Maria Island can be. 

Our Location

Not only does our gorgeous western Florida coast location give you the opportunity to view some of the best sunsets, because we are centrally located along Florida’s west coast, but Anna Maria Island is also only a short drive from the mainland where you can take in a Tampa Bay Lightning hockey game or Tampa Bay Rays baseball game, go golfing, visit nearby Sarasota for some excellent shopping, or if you’ve got the kids with you Disney World, Universal Studios, and Legoland are all only a few hours drive away.  

Our Entertainment Options

If you’re planning to stay on the Island all week there’s no shortage of ways to spend your time. Besides the many beaches Anna Maria Island has to offer we also have a number of other great entertainment options:

  • Picnic areas
  • A farmer’s market

See our ‘What To Do on Anna Maria Island’ page or our 7-day Anna Maria Island vacation itinerary and 3-day weekend Anna Maria Island vacation itinerary for even more ideas and information.

Our Beachfront Rental Selection

Whether you are looking for a beachfront property, a private home with a pool, a beach rental where you can bring your furry family members along, or a resort home big enough for a family reunion we’ve got you covered. Island Real Estate has a huge selection of Florida beachfront rentals and other vacation rentals on the island, perfect for all types of vacations. These stylish and well-maintained homes make sure that your Florida beach vacation is comfortable and relaxing. See our availability calendar and find your next vacation rental. 

Book Your Anna Maria Island Beachfront Vacation Rental Today

If you’re looking for beach houses for rent in Florida look no further. Anna Maria Island is the perfect place for your next beachfront vacation. With more than 50 years in the vacation rental business our team here at Island Real Estatel can help you find your next Florida vacation rental and answer any questions you might have about staying on the island. Contact our office today to speak with one of our friendly booking agents. Or you can give us a call at 877-778-6066

What A Satisfied Guest Says About Their Vacation With Island Real Estate on Google.

I rented a house for Thanksgiving week from Island Real Estate and it was perfect. I had searched for weeks on Airb&b and found the options lacking, and was so happy when I found Island Real Estate as they had better options at better prices. They were extremely responsive and COVID-safe, our check-in/out process was seamless and contact free, and the house/yard/spa were in great condition, almost brand new. Highly recommend renting from them if you’re looking to stay on AMI.
Keegan B.

The Waterfront Restaurant Has Bay Views in Anna Maria City

The Waterfront Restaurant Has Bay Views in Anna Maria City

Great view of  Tampa Bay and the Sunshine Bridge is only the beginning at this wonderful local seafood restaurant on Anna Maria Island.  The food choices at the Waterfront are fantastic.  From wonderful fresh soups and salads to gourmet meals, salmon and steak.  The Waterfront located in Anna Maria City also offers vegetarian choices as well that are made fresh and homemade right at the restaurant.  Waterfront of Anna Maria Island is famous for their delicious fish taco appetizer and outdoor seating taking advantage of the wonderful bay views.  The giant fish tank that separates the main dining room from the bar area is beautiful and adds charm to the dining experience.

The Waterfront restaurant also offers a wonderful  selection of beers and wine from all over the world.  UPDATE: The Waterfront now serves liquor and phenomenal cocktails.  If you are in the mood for something new, ask one of the friendly bartenders for some suggestions.  My wife loves the Jalapeno Margarita.

The wait staff of the waterfront in Anna Maria city is always inviting and prompt with their service. If you are in the mood for great service, great views of the bay, excellent food, this is the place for you to come as a family or as a couple.  One last note, try the lobster bisque, trust us, you wont be sorry.  It melts in your mouth.

The Waterfront Restaurant

Tripadvisor Reviews: 4.5Out of 501
Address: 111 S Bay Blvd Anna Maria, FL 34216

Phone: (941) 778-1515
Website: The Waterfront Restaurant
Menu: Waterfront Restaurant Menu

Cuisine: Gulf Coast Seafood & Fish

Price Range: $$
Accepts Reservations? yes
Driving Directions: Driving Directions – Google Maps

Visit the following link for more information on Anna Maria City Dining.

5 Things To Do With Older Kids While Visiting Anna Maria Island

5 Things To Do With Older Kids While Visiting Anna Maria Island

On this page Big Cat Sanctuary, Horseback Riding, Fishing, Mote Aquarium, Kayaking

Teenage angst doesn’t go away for vacation. We’ve all been there before. Being a teenager is frustrating, and raising a teenager is hard work. Frustration doesn’t end when the airplane door closes, and exhaustion and schedule upset don’t always bring the best attitudes. It’s hard to get a straight answer when asking any child what they would like to do. Honestly, they probably don’t know what they want to do when they are on vacation either. 

Kayaking with kids Near Anna Maria Island
Kayaking Near Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria Island has so much to offer families, including their teenagers. It’s hard to find things to do with kids on Anna Maria Island with just a simple google search. Therefore, we searched the whole island and surrounding areas for the best activities for teenagers to enjoy while on vacation. After all, if the kids aren’t enjoying their vacation, chances are their parents aren’t either. These activities are loads of fun, and inclusive for all age groups. Create some beautiful memories with your toddler, tween, or teenager through these Anna Maria Island adventures! 

Big Cat Habitat Gulf Coast Sanctuary

This is an adventure that teens and younger children will not want to miss out on. Big Cat Habitat is located in Sarasota, Florida which is an easy 50-minute drive from Anna Maria Island. 

This growing large cat sanctuary is the perfect place to spend the day having some educational fun. They are a non-profit business, so all admission fees go straight to feeding and caring for all the wonderful animals that currently call this sanctuary home. Inside the sanctuary, families will be in a state of awe after experiencing the tigers, lions, bears, primates, petting zoo,  and much more! Nobody leaves the Big Cat Habitat Gulf Coast Sanctuary without being completely satisfied with their experience. Visitors also help significantly with rehabilitation and saving the lives of many animals through their admission fees.

Big Cat Habitat is open Wednesday through Sunday from 12 pm – 4 pm. Don’t forget to purchase tickets before heading to the sanctuary 

Horseback Riding On The Beach 

Anna Maria Island is already a magical place for families to visit. To completely feel like they are on a fairytale vacation, visitors always love to go horseback riding on the beaches.  Additionally, visitors love to stay in a vacation rental rather than a hotel so they can watch the horseback riders along the beach while they relax!

This unique family experience is usually a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most vacationers. This is the best way to fully experience the island outside of a motor vehicle. Enjoy the endless ocean views, pristine beaches, and the ride of a lifetime by choosing to go horseback riding on Anna Maria Island’s fantastic beaches. 

We do recommend reserving your spot ahead of time. Doing so will ensure that the opportunity is available to the whole family. Here are a few places on Anna Maria Island that offer horseback riding:

C Ponies Horseback Riding

Florida Beach Horses

Guided Day Fishing Trip 

This is the best way to get out on the water and enjoy some fishing! Many believe that this is only a “boys” activity, but in fact, it is fun for the WHOLE family. On these guided fishing trips, vacationers could see dolphins, whales, sharks, seals, and many more different types of marine life. Being on the open water is calming, and offers stunning views of Anna Maria Island that visitors otherwise would not be able to enjoy. 

Guided day fishing trips can be catch and release or catch and eat. Grouper is a very common favorite amongst the locals, and catching one is the greatest experience. The guides on the fishing trip will help bait, reel, and are very informative and fun to be around. This is essential for children and teens to have fun! They don’t have to worry about knowing HOW to fish, because the guides will teach them and be there every step of the way. Grouper, swordfish, tarpon, redfish, and many more can be caught during a fishing trip on the Gulf Coast. The warm waters also provide a more enjoyable experience than fishing trips in the Atlantic or Pacific oceans. 

Make sure to make reservations in advance, otherwise, there might not be any availability to go on a guided fishing trip. Here are a few guided fishing companies to choose from:

Just Kickin Back Charters

AMI Charters

Fishing With Salty

Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium

This gorgeous facility and its staff are heavily focused on research and education. Although their research originally focused on sharks, it has expanded to include marine models for studies of human cancer, the effects of human-made and natural toxic substances on humans, the environment, and the health of wild fisheries. Its mission is to develop sustainable fish restocking techniques, food production technologies, and ocean technology to shed light on the health of our environment.

The Mote Aquarium features many different exhibits for families to enjoy such as the Shark Zone, Florida Watershed, Manatees, and Otters & Their Rivers.  One of the most talked-about exhibits is the Megaladon Jaw & Fossil Creek which takes visitors back in time to learn about prehistoric marine life.

Tickets can be purchased online or at the door! 


Kayaking in the gorgeous waters of Anna Maria Island is one of the most amazing experiences that visitors and their children can experience. Whether vacationers rent their kayaks and go on an adventure with the family, or they choose a guided kayaking day trip there’s a kayak adventure for everyone. 

There are plenty of places to rent kayaks for a half or a whole day for the whole family. Additionally, there are plenty of calm waters to enjoy kayaking through around Anna Maria Island. We recommend kayaking in Anna Maria Sound or Bimini Bay! It’s important to be away of the Florida Kayaking Regulations before setting out on an adventure with the family. Following these regulations will ensure the whole family is safe, and no violations are taking place. 

Guided kayak trips are phenomenal experiences for families to enjoy. There are guided mangrove tours that weave through the local mangroves of Anna Maria Island. Manatees, rare species of birds, and dolphins are just a few species of animals vacationers will see as they peacefully cruise through the mangroves. 

Make sure to reserve the guided kayak trip a couple of days in advance or before setting out on vacation to ensure the opportunity is available. Here are a few of the best-guided kayak tour companies:

Happy Paddler Kayak Tours & Ecoventures

Beach Bums Recreational Rentals & Tours

AMI Kayak Tours

If you’re bringing your family with older kids to Anna Maria Island, where you spend your precious vacation time is the most important part. These activities can be sprinkled between leisurely days at your beachfront vacation rental provided by our expert team at Island Real Estate. Book your getaway online today. Questions? Contact us today.

What A Happy Guest Says About Island Real Estate Vacations on Google

My entire family absolutely loved the condo we rented on the beach from Island Real Estate! Our accommodations were fabulous! The place was newer – maybe only 5-8 years old, clean and well cared for, and very much like home, just like they promised! Our patio faced the ocean over the fenced pool area with a gate leading out to the beach. I would DEFINITELY rent this place again, and loved working with Island Real Estate – such friendly people! You won’t be sorry.
Susan C.

Beach Bistro – Fine Dining Anna Maria Island

Beach Bistro – Fine Dining Anna Maria Island

The Beach Bistro is a fantastic restaurant that offers a dining experience to remember. Several courses are served, or you can order how you like.    Reservations are strongly recommended, but you can also try to grab a seat at the bar.  The bar has a little more limited menu and provides some “lighter fare” options.  If you are looking for a romantic spot with limited gulf views and price is no option then we strongly recommend the Beach Bistro.  Average meal prices are well over $40, so be sure you are comfortable with their prices.

Younger children are welcome, but are not recommended if you plan on having a long dining experience.  Parking can be a bit of a challenge but if you can find a “legal” spot go for it otherwise be sure to use their valet parking.  One additional note, the seating for two is normally fairly intimate so be prepared to get to know your neighboring diners.

Beach Bistro

The Bistro is located in Holmes Beach, FL on Anna Maria Island.

6600 Gulf Drive
Holmes Beach, FL 34217

Phone Number: (941) 778-6444
Website: www.beachbistro.com
Menu: Browse our Menu and Wine List
Hours: .

Cuisine: Gulf Coast Seafood, American

Price Range: $$$
Takes Reservations: Yes

Get Directions from your Current Location

The Beach Bistro is located at the end of 66th.  Want a vacation rental close to the Beach Bistro?  Buena Vista unit 3 and unit 4 are adjacent to the Beach Bistro.  Literally right next door, walk over in the sand to a perfect dining experience.

Hurricane Hanks is a Casual Restaurant With Great Food & Cocktails

Hurricane Hanks is a Casual Restaurant With Great Food & Cocktails

Hurricane Hanks is located in central Holmes Beach.  It is a great restaurant for lunch or dinner and is a favorite among locals.  The pub like restaurant is located at the cross roads of Marina and Gulf Drive.  If you want to slip some shopping into the dining experience there are several stores within walking distance.

Hanks is a pub style restaurant that is open for lunch & dinner.  It has a full bar available and right next door is Hurricane Hank’s liquors.  As the evening sets in the pub becomes more of a bar atmosphere than a restaurant.  By no stretch of the imagination does that mean it becomes unruly, still very appropriate for a late night family dinner. 

So what can you expect on the Hurricane Hanks menu? Let us fill you in; 
Hanks lunch menu consists of sandwiches, American entrees and burgers. The burgers are great and they have a wonderful diversity of appetizers.  Hurricanes has some great seafood, pub food and Hanks offers some of the most consistently good food on Anna Maria Island.  

So next time you are in town, check out Hurricane Hanks. Bring the whole family too! Hanks is a great family-friendly restaurant that everyone will enjoy. And don’t forget to bring the party home by stopping next door at Hurricane Liquors!

If you are looking to stay longer term and visit Hurricane Hanks on a daily basis then our Holmes Beach Martinique vacation rental, or the Buena Vista condo beach resort may be the perfect fit.

Historic City Pier Anna Maria – Take A Stroll on Tampa Bay

Historic City Pier Anna Maria – Take A Stroll on Tampa Bay

The Anna Maria City Pier has been a huge attraction for over 100 years. Visitors always love coming out, walking the pier, watching fishermen  and grabbing a bite to eat or a drink at the restaurant that sat at the end of the Pier.

However, that all came to a stop in 2017 when the Pier was damaged by Hurricane Irma. The Pier had to be closed, completely demolished, and re-built. Luckily, all the hard work has come to an end, and as of 2020 the City Pier has re-opened as close to the original Pier that stood here before as possible.  Soon the City Pier Grill & Bait Shop will open!

City Pier Anna Maria is a Historical Site

The sign at the entrance of the City Pier Anna Maria says it all.  “The Anna Maria Development Company built this pier and wharf in 1911-1912 to provide dockage for ships from St. Petersburg and Tampa”. It has since withstood hurricanes and lesser storms, too numerous to mention.  Although, parts were damaged by storms in 1918, 1935, 1974, 1988, and 2017. Over the years it has nurtured the hopes of fisherman and the dreams of lovers. It has provided roosts for pelicans and other sea birds, and has also been a friend to residents and visitors alike.

Skinny’s Place Is the Great Greasy Spoon of Anna Maria Island

Skinny’s Place Is the Great Greasy Spoon of Anna Maria Island

Skinny’s Place, Circa 1952,  is quite the little burger joint that all the locals on Anna Maria Island love. The prices are great, and the food is made to order

What Makes Skinny’s Place So Great?

They offer giant burgers and homemade onion rings that are dipped in a wonderful batter that is always crispy and delicious. Whether you are just out for a drive or if you are visiting the beaches of Anna Maria for the day, it is a wonderfully rustic place to visit. Call in your order and swing by to pick it up.

This is a come as you are place, not a fancy night out on Anna Maria island, Holmes Beach.  That is why it is great for people who have children as well.  Drink selections go from draft beer to old fashioned soda in the bottle. Often have beer specials for $1 – $1.50 per glass.

Skinny’s was even featured in Southern Living Magazine back in 2011.
“Janice and Carl “Skinny” Freeman fell in love with this remote patch of sand on their honeymoon in the 1930s.  Today, the screened-in watering hole on ANNA MARIA ISLAND dishes scrumptious burgers- their trick is seasoning the grill- and beer in frosted mugs under walls packed with family photos.  You can still find the 94 – year – old Janice sweeping behind the bar and hear stories of Old Florida from charming regulars.”
– Southern Living Magazine

They do not accept credit cards so remember to bring some cash!

Skinny’s is located in Holmes Beach on Anna Maria Island across the street from the Manatee Public beach and cafe.  Many beach goers walk across Gulf Drive and get a few cold one’s at Skinny’s as well as a hamburger.

Address: 3901 Gulf Dr, Holmes Beach, FL 34217
Phone: (941) 778-7769
Hours: Closed Monday, Open Tuesday through Sunday 11am – 8pm

D Coy Ducks Bar and Music in Holmes Beach Fl

D Coy Ducks Bar and Music in Holmes Beach Fl

D Coy Ducks in Holmes Beach is where you can find most locals on a Friday or Saturday night. This laid-back bar is a popular hangout spot and a great place to grab a beer and listen to live music. Whether its 10:30am or 2:30am, Ducks will be ready to serve you a cold adult beverage.

That’s right, this dive bar is open everyday of the week from 10:30am until 2:30am. They are also a non-smoking establishment, so don’t worry about second-hand smoke.

D Coy’s offers a full liquor bar, cold beers, and nightly entertainment.  They do not have a food menu yet customers are allowed to bring snacks or have dinner delivered from one of the nearby restaurants.

If you are looking for some late night company and flavor on your Anna Maria Island Vacation, you can find it here any night of the week, or you can stop in early for a drink on your way to the beach, whatever makes you happy.