You’ll find the occasional sand dollar up and down the area beaches. However, the mother lode can be found regularly on the northern part of Bonita Beach. Pay attention now, here’s the tip: drive north up Hickory Boulevard past Doc’s Beach House and start making note of the Lee County beach access points which are numbered. The parking spots are very limited at these access points, but in a perfect world you would find parking at Access #7 (if this fails, move up to #8 or #9 or resort to the bigger parking area at Access #10 and walk the beach going south).
Walk the shallow water and move north towards the high rise beachfront condominiums. Timing is everything so, here’s the second part of the equation……..go at low tide. Otherwise, you won’t find the sand dollars and you won’t even notice the sand bar that runs along the beach where they get trapped.
How do you know when it’s low tide? The slick and techie way is to load the tide application (it’s free) onto your smart phone. You can pick your favorite locations to find out the tides to the minute. You’ll want “Little Hickory Island” for this location and make it a favorite so you can check back easily. The not-so-slick-and-techie method but still reliable is to stop at Master Bait & Tackle at the corner of Bonita Beach Road and West Ave. on your way to the beach. They have free monthly tide charts that the fishermen use.
When you find one sand dollar on this section of beach, there will be many more nearby. On several occasions, we have found nearly 100 during one session of hunting.
Here are a few more words of wisdom for collecting sand dollars:
- Wade in the ankle to knee-deep water along the sand bar that you’ll notice running parallel with the beach.
- Watch where you walk. They crush easily under your foot.
- They won’t all be sitting totally exposed so, keep your eye out for just the very top of the crowned portion barely sticking above the sand. Gently put a finger under the edge and lift.
- Do NOT carry them in a plastic bag. By the time you get back to the car, you’ll have a bag full of rubble. Gently stack them in the palm of your hand until you need to start lining them on edge along your arm. Best to put them flat somewhere in the car until you get home, too.
- They will bleach out by themselves with some time.
- People offer different tips like brushing them with Elmer’s Glue to preserve them. You can find techniques with a Google search. We prefer “au natural.”
- If a sand dollar is dark in color and has fuzz on it, it’s alive. Don’t take it. It’s against the law.
If you get there and find an abundance of sand dollars, be generous and send a tweet to @365inNaplesFL so a few others can enjoy this treat. Believe me, there are enough sand dollars to go around for everyone. Happy hunting!