The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum

The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum

10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Monday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Tuesday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Wednesday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Write a review
About
The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is the only museum in the U.S. devoted entirely to shells and mollusks, and one of the best things to do on Sanibel Island. It features more than 30 engaging exhibits of stunning shells, showcasing some of the largest and rarest shell specimens in the world, including the goliath conch, lightning whelk and Atlantic trumpet triton, as well as common Southwest Florida shells, fossil shells and more. New in March 2020, “Beyond Shells: The Mysterious World of Mollusks” adds the live animals that create shells to its must-see experiences. New aquariums include live octopuses, giant clams, nautilus, nudibranchs and gastropods, and two 15-foot-long touch tanks let young visitors get their hands wet. For a perfect Sanibel experience, fun daily beach walks can be reserved, and the nonprofit museum’s scientists also conduct research with local mollusk species.
Suggest edits to improve what we show.
Improve this listing
Tours & experiences
Explore different ways to experience this place.
What is Travelers’ Choice?
Tripadvisor gives a Travelers’ Choice award to accommodations, attractions and restaurants that consistently earn great reviews from travelers and are ranked within the top 10% of properties on Tripadvisor.
The area
Address
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
Popular mentions

4.5
1,659 reviews
Excellent
1,045
Very good
433
Average
143
Poor
30
Terrible
8

podrozniczka60
New Jersey14,535 contributions
Dec 2021
The museum was surprisingly open on Christmas. Small but interesting for those with preexistent passion for shells. They do cater to young kids. Adult tickets are overpriced at $15 but the youngest kids are admitted for free.
Almost everywhere on Sanibel it seems like you have to pay for the parking but shell museum has a free parking.
Written February 6, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

LABDRB
596 contributions
Dec 2020 • Couples
Have driven past this place many of time either by car or by bicycle and finally decided to go at 10 AM (when the doors open) to hopefully avoid any crowds indoors during this crazy pandemic. Parking was free however so are the bike racks! We were the second folks in, and really didn’t see too many people during our visit which was really nice. Masks were mandatory, but there was plenty of room and we did not feel compromised at all being indoors for the couple of hours that we were there. Really neat history and special artwork made from shells. There was even a little craft gift that they gave you to take with you when you left. You can leave a small donation for these if you wish. There was a supervised area with an expert where you could actually touch some of the living creatures (after you wash your hands). There was also a movie room with an educational video showing during our visit. Probably the coolest thing was the world-record sized shells on display up on the second floor. Truly amazing! The gift shop had some neat things in it as well. Be sure to stop in before you leave the museum. Admission was bit pricey, but worth it for this rare gem of a museum on Sanibel Island.
Written December 15, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Matthew C
Saint Louis, MO93 contributions
Oct 2021 • Solo
I was impressed by all this museum had to offer. I was expecting a small museum with maybe 2 or 3 rooms. But this museum was good sized and I easily spent 90 minutes there. I probably could have spent longer if I had more time. There were many exhibits that talk about the different types of shells around the world and also talk about how and why sea creatures have shells. There were some interactive exhibits that are good for kids. I would highly recommend this museum if you are visiting Sanibel or anywhere in southwest Florida!
Written October 25, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Mike C
Charleston, WV171 contributions
Jan 2022
The National Shell Museum is well worth the price of admission. The collection of shells from the local area and around the world is fascinating. And the section with a variety of live sea creatures is quite educational.
Written January 26, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

tnvolfam
Franklin, TN29 contributions
Jul 2021 • Couples
If you have elementary age children that like aquariums, this is a great place. Some of the exhibits are faciniating for the those that appreciate ocean life. In particular, there is staffed exhibit that allows some hands on experiences and deeper learning.

We enjoyed the exhibits, especially the shells organized by geographical origin.

In general, we felt the museum was smaller than expected, slightly under staffed, and a little over priced compared to other opportunities. However, we do not regret going.

Written July 30, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

invertpaleo
New York City, NY345 contributions
Apr 2021
The shell museum, as long as it has existed, has always been a terrific destination, but the new entire floor of aquariums with live mollusks adds another whole dimension to it.

Some people think the museum fee is a little bit expensive, but it is totally worth the expenditure.

Sanibel is, after all, the Shell Capital of the USA, so why not understand a bit more about shells and mollusks that make them?

Written June 24, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Shaked007
Hod Hasharon, Israel1,565 contributions
Apr 2022
The National Shell Museum is a beautiful little museum with an impressive and colourful collection of shells.
The shells are nicely displayed and explained.
In addition to the shells, the touch tank is a nice addition and provides children with some activity in addition to just looking at shells.....
We loved the GPO (Giant Pacific Octopus), a 40 pound octopus in an aquarium (They can grow to over 120 pounds!!). We were just in time to listen to a briefing/lecture about the octopus by its carer, which was fascinating. The octopus is considered to be the most intelligent invertebrate. The carer told us that one of its favourite toys is a Rubik's Cube. which it manipulates for hours (but hasn't solved yet....!!).
Beautiful Museum!! Definite MUST!!
Written May 6, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

sullific
new haven, ct675 contributions
Jan 2022
Despite my sanibel Stoop I thought I might be a bit less than impressed by this museum but I was pleasantly surprised. Certainly nothing like it anywhere else.
Not just shells on display, but live mollusks and seahorses as well as shell art (which sounds cringeworthy but isn't).

Price is a little high, though - although it is the only place we visited in southwestern Florida that offered a senior discount.

Also seems to be a little "politicized" (look around in the non-exhibit areas and check out a couple of these reviews). Hope my admission fees weren't to support building that third politically motivated rest room rather than just a couple of unisex ones.
Written January 31, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

MJH161
Denver, CO208 contributions
Mar 2021
We have been here twice, six years apart. It is a classy museum. If you have any interested in seashells, you should definitely visit here. The admission price of $25 a person is steep, but welcome to Sanibel Island.The displays are professional. I didn't love the artwork for sale, but I did love the hands-on portion of the museum where you could touch various live animals.I did buy an app for two dollars that allows you to identify seashells you'll find on the beach when roaming the island. I would say a 5 Star museum if the price were more in the 10 or $12 range. If you don't care about the cost, I would say this is pretty much a must stop on Sanibel.
Written March 9, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Avid Traveler in Nebraska
Omaha, NE94 contributions
Aug 2020
As shelling is a staple for Sanibel visitors, figured this museum would be a must-see attraction. Though new and clean, the museum is geared more to kids/families. $23.95 adult admission was on the high side, as we were able to see all exhibits on both floors in the span of about 45 minutes. I believe a portion of admission benefits a conservation foundation of some sort. Definitely some educational value, but if limited on time and funds, would suggest considering other options more heavily, especially if not visiting with young children.
Written August 16, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Showing results 1-10 of 1,617
Anything missing or inaccurate?
Suggest edits to improve what we show.
Improve this listing

The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum (Sanibel Island) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

Frequently Asked Questions about The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum

The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is open:
  • Sun - Sat 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM