J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge

Spoonbills, Gators & Manatees

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Sanibel’s most-visited attraction (after its collective beaches) takes up more than half of the island, providing window to some of Florida’s best wildlife sightings of creatures such as its signature roseate spoonbills and alligators, reddish egrets, great blue herons, ospreys, pileated woodpeckers, white pelicans, and some 250 other species of birds.

You can drive the 4-mile Wildlife Drive, but it’s better to take the narrated tram first time around or at least bike it. The refuge’s iNature Trail along Wildlife Drive uses QR code-scanning apps to deliver interactive interpretation for kids and adults.

Check out the free Visitor & Education Center before hitting the drive and trails. It recently unveiled new hands-on manatee and crocodile/alligator exhibits. During winter and summer seasons, the refuge offers free naturalist guided tours and other programs for all ages.

Don’t miss the sealife cruise or kayaking Commodore Trail at the refuge’s Tarpon Bay Recreation Area, where you can see roosting pelicans, ospreys nesting, manatees, and fish.

At A Glance

1 Wildlife Dr.
Education Center free, $5 per car, $1 per pedestrian or cyclist on Wildlife Drive


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