Sunrise at the Shell Beach

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I have happy memories from my childhood of hours spent at the “Shell Beach” near my grandparents’ house.  My mom and I were really into shell collecting, and this beach was awesome for its wide variety of fully intact shells.  Our collections were full of all sorts of augers and moon shells and olives and kitten’s paws.  Then my cousins would come and join in the fun, and together we’d scour the beach for rare shells.  As an adult, it’s so peaceful to return to this beach.  Now it’s one of my favorite photography locations because of the rock formations that jut out into the Atlantic.  It’s a wonderful spot for landscape photography.

Three Planets (Bet You Can't Find Them!)
Three Planets (Bet You Can’t Find Them!)

I recently visited Jupiter while celebrating my grandfather’s 90th birthday, so I slipped away for some sunrise photos.  I got to the beach about half an hour before sunrise, when the colors are often the deepest.  I’m always struck by the tall palms against the blue sky, and on this occasion, you could see three planets: Mars, Jupiter, and Venus.  I bet you can’t find them in my photo above!  Hint, they are under the bottom left fronds.  They show up in my full-resolution photo, and Mars even has a faint red cast, but the pixels don’t really show in the down-sampled blog image.


With a 30% cloudcover forecast, I had hoped for some nice puffy clouds in the sky overhead.  Instead, all the clouds were far off on the horizon, and the sky immediately overhead was perfectly clear.  Also, with Hurricane Joaquin churning not too far off in the Atlantic, the waves were high and choppy.  A multi-second exposure over a lone rock shows how choppy the sea was.

Surf's Up!
Surf’s Up!

As the sky brightened, I switched to fast exposures and tried to capture the splashes of the waves as they broke against the rocks.  That was fun.  Some of the biggest waves came to shore with no excitement.  Others were seemingly calm and then splash!

Shell Beach Sunrise
Shell Beach Sunrise

The real magic was a few minutes after the sun rose.  The light cast beautiful color on the waves and they broke on the beach.  A bunch of photographers were there, and we all ran around trying to capture the light.  Rich stood patiently in the back and said hello to the turtle patrol as they came by.  The turtles have stopped laying at this time of year, but you can still find hatchlings if you are lucky.

Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Loggerhead Sea Turtle

Since there weren’t any turtles at the beach, we had to make our visit to Loggerhead Park, a rescue and rehabilitation hospital for sea turtles.  Rich and I visit there every time we’re down south.  This was an extra-special visit because we took my cousin’s two year old daughter along.  A new generation of our family fell in love with sea turtles that day.  Not a bad weekend at all! :)

Want to learn more about nature photography at Coral Cove Park?

Check out my Coral Cove Park page with more information about the location, map, website, photography tips, etc. It is archived by date so you can see my images from previous visits. Maybe you'll be inspired for your own trip!

Planning a trip to Florida? Don't miss my Central Florida Bird Photography Locations reference guide!

4 thoughts on “Sunrise at the Shell Beach

  1. I really enjoyed your post as I also have fond memories of beachcombing about a hundred years ago. Wonderful sunrise landscapes! Love the colors, the water action – all of it!

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