Commonly known as the best place for shelling in the United States, as well as one of the best in the world, Sanibel Island is home to over 250 different kinds of shells. Visitors come to Sanibel from all over to hunt for shells on our gorgeous beaches. There is a passion for shelling in Sanibel like you’ll find nowhere else.
The hunt for unique shells and finding the treasures of Sanibel is one of the most fun and exciting activities on the Island. The most popular shells found on Sanibel are coquinas, whelks, sand dollars, and scallops. However, if you find a junonia shell (a twisted cone shell with giraffe spot markings), you’re one of the lucky ones, as this is one of the most coveted shells here.
77th Annual Sanibel Shell Festival
Each year, Sanibel celebrates shelling with its annual Shell Festival, held Thursday through Saturday of the first week in March at the Sanibel Community House. This year’s festival runs from March 6-8, 2014 and the theme is “Treasures of Sanibel.” At the shell festival, attendees will see unique, hard-to-find shells, creative shell crafts, science exhibits, and even books for sale. On Saturday, there will be a raffle where participants can win a variety of items ranging in value from a few hundred dollars to $3,000.
Admission is free to the outdoor shell area and $5 to enter the Shell Show, which also includes entry to Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum. Inside the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum you’ll find incredible shell projects created by artists who receive awards from judges at the show. This is the largest and longest running shell show in the United States.
Shelling Excursions at Port Sanibel Marina
If you are passionate about shelling and want to add some of Sanibel’s shells to your collection, look no further than Port Sanibel Marina. Port Sanibel Marina is home to Adventures in Paradise, offering a fantastic shelling and lunch excursion. Guests get to cruise to the outer islands (only accessible by boat) and shell along pristine beaches. You can pack a lunch or grab food at Barnacle Phil’s, a local favorite. Bring your bathing suit, sunglasses, beach shoes, and shelling bag and let them provide the adventure!