One of the most spectacular tourist attractions in Panglao, Bohol, Philippines is the Shell Museum. All the shells found inside the museum is owned and collected by Mr. Quirino Hora. In fact, there are already two sea shells named after him. The first shell, named Bursa Quirihorai, was discovered in 1987 and the second was in 1994, named Primovula Horai and both these shells were discovered in Panglao.
Naming shells is not that easy. After Mr. Hora found these shells, he reviewed the book of shells, asked the other shell collectors and found nothing similar to it. As a tradition, whoever discovered the shell can name it after him with some minor considerations in naming it scientifically.
Everything in the Shell Museum has been a collection of Mr. Hora for more than 30 years of sea exploration, barter with other shell collectors and purchasing some of them. He is already over 60 years old and not yet sure on who among his children will acquire the business. They are also selling Shells, Shell Crafts and other products made from sea elements such as stones and pearls.
The Shell Museum in Panglao is one of the biggest collections in the world. Some of the most interesting shells are: The Murex Alabster, a white shell that lives in a very deep part of the sea where the rays of the sun can’t reach, The Cypria Auruntium, where the name “Golden Cowrie” was acquired, The Conidae family of shells, famous for its poison, The Vulva Queen, the smallest shell in the world at 5 millimeter and its rarest size is 7 millimeter and it can be sold over 1000 U.S. dollars because of the fact that only 3 of those can be found in a year and can be clearly seen using a magnifying lens, The Sun Shell, because of its swirly shape, and The Xenophidae family of shells where smaller shells and small stones stick to it and is named as the “first shell collectors”.
The Shell Museum is visited by foreigners and locals alike. It is part of the usual Panglao-Dauis Day tour packages offered by travel agencies. The usual day tour also includes visiting Bohol Bee Farm, Bayoyoy the dwarf, Hinagdanan Cave, Dauis Church and the beaches. The Shell Museum accommodates visitors from 8am-5pm. Some areas of the building are air-conditioned because of the humidity and density of the place. It has a floor area of about 200 square meters. You’ll be amazed when you get inside the first 2 rooms and think that it’s the end of the tour but the truth is they have more rooms and a souvenir shop at the back area. There are a couple of tourist guides that explains something about an interesting shell.
The products they sell are bracelets, necklaces, shells in bundles, keychains, bells, wind chimes, wall decors, ceiling decors and a lot more. Collections other than shells which are visible in the museum are the Shark’s Mouth, Stingray, Seahorses and the Sea urchins.
The entrance is free but they accept donations to be used to renovate some parts of the museum and for their electric bill as well. Their only source of income is through the souvenir shop. If you’re planning to buy souvenirs be sure to ask for discounts and they will gladly give it to you. You can also ask for a complimentary gift if you like.