Be part of the Guiness Book of World Records! Join Shellabration & Sanibel Stoop

Shellabration Poster

Shellabration Poster

Florida Vacation Guide to Shellabration & the Sanibel Stoop

Be part of the Guinness Book of World Records on your Florida vacation!  Take part in a mass Sanibel Stoop at 10 a.m. on February 17 on Bowman’s Beach, Sanibel Island. This is the kick-off event for the 75th year of Shellabration.

Shell Man ©Lee County VCB

Shell Man ©Lee County VCB

Guinness Book World Record

Given that Sanibel has a shell-bent predilection, the island is calling to all visitors, tourists and islanders to be part of a mass shell scavenger hunt all in the hopes of breaking a Guinness Book World Record. Participants will be part of an aerial photo and then are requested to place their signatures to be forwarded to Guinness as proof. They need to surpass the 208-person record that has been previously set for a shell scavenger hunt.


The moniker, “Sanibel Stoop” comes from exactly that – bent over looking for shells along the island’s sandy shorelines. It’s part yearning, part habit, but people find it hard to walk along the beach without stooping to see what the waves are delivering to shore. Given that Sanibel is one of the top shelling destinations in Florida, it has built an entire festival around the activity: Shellabration.

Shellabration Event

It’s the 75th year for the Sanibel Shell Show & Fair, and Shellabration! 2012, and the festival is kicking off with the Guiness Event. Then, from Feb. 26 to March 4 it’s shell-mania. “Because it’s the 75th anniversary, we wanted to do something special,” said Marge Meek, SCA president, which hosts the event. “It shows everyone this is a shell island.”


Starting March 1, as it has for decades, the three-day fair runs outside and the inside show of everything shells (more than 200 exhibitors from artists to scientific collections) are inside for a $3 donation. Hours: Thursday & Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ; Saturday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

The event is a favorite for locals and those who are on vacation in Florida. Other highlights include:

  • “Shellegant” gala at the Island Inn
  • Judges Reception Dinner at the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum.
  • Gift from the Sea play followed by an ice cream social.
  • guided beach walks
  • edible mollusk specials in local restaurants

The History

It all started in the early 1900s when shellers on the island started a friendly competition. It came down to the hotels – Casa Ybel and The Matthews – where the shellers were staying. In the late 1920s, Hallie “Granny” Matthews hosted a Shell Show & Fair in her hotel lobby. The event was so popular that it moved to the Sanibel Community Association’s (SCA) Community House in the early 30s and grew into the event it is today.

Tell us…

How many shells do you collect on your Florida vacation?