One of the longest-running and largest shell festivals in the world returns to beautiful Sanibel Island in early March, much to the delight of locals, tourists, and shell collectors from across the globe. The Annual Sanibel Shell Festival will return yet again to the 92-year-old Sanibel Community House and bicycle-friendly Periwinkle Way. Visitors have come to expect world-class shell art, marvelous shell collections, and sensational local discoveries. The Sanibel Community House is only a short walk or bicycle ride from dozens of our charming, modern Sanibel Island vacation rentals here at Sanibel Vacations. Keep reading to learn more about this crowd-pleasing annual event!

Sanibel Island Shelling

Sanibel Island is known for its beautiful shelling beaches, home to dozens of rare beauties, which will be on display during this year’s Sanibel Shell Festival. The art of shelling is a popular pastime here on Sanibel Island. In fact, self-proclaimed and professional “conchologists” are often seen performing the famous “Sanibel Stoop,” the funny-looking bent-at-the-waist posture one uses to inspect shells. We can proudly say that our beautiful Gulf Coast isle has transformed thousands of tourists into amateur conchologists.

The Annual Sanibel Shell Festival

The Sanibel Shell Festival itself is bound to be yet another absorbing family-friendly event. Over the course of three days in early March, over 100 presenters will vie for cash prizes and ribbons. There are two types of shell displays: artistic and scientific. Artists transform their collections into jewelry, flower arrangements, mirrors, and a wide variety of “sailor’s valentines,” arguably the festival’s main attraction. The scientific discoveries, many of which have been collected here on Sanibel Island, will showcase some of the world’s rarest, most beautiful conches, whelks, cones, tulips, and olives.

The Festivities / General Information

Visitors can enjoy free shell-crafting demonstrations, raffles, artist meet-and-greets, and even a make-your-own shell flower stand. Most of the shell art is available for purchase. There will also be lunch, snacks, and drinks available near the Community House. Admission is entirely free, but a $5 donation grants you access to the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum. All of the proceeds benefit local organizations. To learn more about the Shell Art Festival, please visit their website.

Charming Sanibel Island Vacation Rentals

After each full day of snorkeling, bicycling, and shelling, return to your Sanibel Island vacation rentals for a homecooked meal, a dazzling Gulf Coast sunset, and a soak in an outdoor heated pool. Bicycling is the preferred method of transportation here at Sanibel Vacations, and luckily for you, we have a fleet of inexpensive Sanibel Island bike rentals. All of our luxurious homes and ocean-view condos are a short bicycle ride from the best Sanibel Island restaurants, including Bleu Rendez-Vous French Bistro, IL Cielo, and The MAD Hatter Restaurant. Browse through our Sanibel Island house rentals to find one that perfectly suits your group’s size, style, and budget by visiting us online at