Sanibel and Captiva Islands has large variety of Florida Wildlife including birds, alligators and dolphins. Our islands provide a nature vacation for the entire family from the avid nature lover to the budding naturalist.
Nowhere is this natural state more breathtaking than at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1945. Encompassing more than 5,000 acres, this spectacular wildlife refuge lies on the north side of Sanibel Island. It provides nesting sites for over 200 species of birds, many of them threatened or endangered, and is also an ecological system that is sanctuary for a wide variety of wildlife, including alligators, turtles, river otters, armadillos, and rabbits.
The refuge is named for Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling of New York, a Pulitzer prize-winning cartoonist and a life-long environmentalist. Darling once headed the US Biological Survey and was instrumental in establishing more than 300 sanctuaries across the United States. Many of Sanibel’s local establishments highlight the cartoon art of Darling, which focused on the visiting and local ‘shellers’ who came to the islands.
Besides a first-rate Visitor Center, open Saturday through Thursday, the refuge offers an observation tower, nature trails, and a two-hour guided tour via tram.
J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge
1 Wildlife Drive
Sanibel Island 33957