Jeffrey’s Bay is best known as the surfing Mecca of champions and sportsmen from all over the world. The same beaches that host these local and international surfing enthusiasts and their spectators are home to another South African treasure. This is the extensive collection of exquisite shells that occur naturally along these shores.
As the chill of winter dissipates and spring is well on its way, the annual Shell Festival lures thousands of South African and foreign visitors to Jeffrey’s Bay to see some of the beauty that exists in its shell variety. More than 600 types of shells come in an endless array of colours, sizes, and natural designs. Whether young or old, a J-Bay regular or a first-time tourist; the Shell Festival is a must.
This festival takes place in late September or early October, taking advantage of the spring sunshine. It is held in the Central Business District and shopping centre of Jeffrey’s Bay, which is just a few metres from the sandy shores and warm waters of the Indian Ocean. There is a huge variety of restaurants in this area too, guaranteed to appeal to just about any taste and preference.
The Shell Festival, having graced Jeffery’s Bay for more than 20 years, extends over four days. The beauty of the shells is showcased at about 250 different stalls. They are not only displayed in their raw beauty, but are also used to make ornaments, jewellery, crockery, hair accessories, clothing, and décor items.
In addition to this incredible display, visitors can look forward to cultural music shows, dancing, competitions and excellent food at festive stalls.
Families travel from all over the country to spend a few days being part of the festivities of this annual event. Every day, about 12 500 people descend on Jeffrey’s Bay, creating a fun vibe that focuses on culture and natural beauty.
For those that want to take in even more of the stunning shells of the Eastern Cape coastline, the Jeffrey’s Bay Shell Museum is also situated in the heart of this coastal town. The museum displays shells from all over the world, and includes rare species as well as brand new finds. It is open from Monday to Saturday, between 09h00 and 16h00, and on Sundays from 09h00 to 13h00.
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In 2012, the Shell Festival took place from 28-30 September.