Sanibel Tourist Attractions
To the west of Fort Myers are the islands of Sanibel and Captiva, famed for their magically beautiful beaches, strewn with a great variety of seashells. On the shores facing the mainland are areas of marshland and mangroves, home to a wide variety of animal life. On the north-east coast of Sanibel is the "Ding," the Darling National Wildlife Refuge.
Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum
The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum houses a very large collection of shells from the Sanibel and Captiva Islands and others from around the world. There are shells from the South Pacific, Australia, Japan and beyond. The Shell Museum began as an information and reference center for national and international scientists, students, and shell enthusiasts. Other exhibits include shell art and the many uses of mollusks such as medicinal, economic and food. There is a comprehensive library, a computer database of shells, thousands of photo slides, videos and monthly lectures.
Address: Box 1580, Sanibel, FL 33957-3111, United States
Opening hours: 10am-5pm
Entrance fee in USD: Adult $7.00, Child 16 & under $4.00, Child 4 & under FREE
Useful tips: Group rates and tour information available. Closed major holidays.
Guides: Interpretive sessions sometimes available.
Facilities: Gift shop
Typical Visit: 1 hour
J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge
Located at the north end of the island, J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge is a 6,400-acre mangrove estuary. Home to large flocks of neo-tropical wading water birds and migrating waterfowl, alligators, otters, raccoons and American crocodiles. Over 230 species of birds have been sighted in the Darling Refuge. Hiking trails, canoe routes, biking paths and an interpretative tram ride on the "wildlife drive." The refuge was named for cartoonist and early conservationist, Jay Norwood "Ding" Darling. It was created in 1945 and renamed in 1962 in his memory.
Address: 1 Wildlife Drive, Sanibel, FL 33957, United States
Opening hours: 7am-Sunset; Closed: Fri
Useful tips: The visitor center is open daily 9:00 to 17:00 (to 16:00 in the off-season: May 1 - December 31). Free admission. Tram tour schedule varies and it leaves from the Education Center during the high season. Best time to observe bird-life is in the morning, one hour before or after low tide.
Guides: Guided tour included with admission.
Facilities: Gift shop
Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation
Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation works to preserve the natural resources and wildlife habitat on and around Sanibel and Captiva. Guided nature trails, a butterfly house, touch tank, displays of the area wetlands are part of the foundation exhibits.
Sanibel Historical Village and Museum
Sanibel Historical Village consists of a reconstructed pioneer village including a 1913 Cracker house, a general store from 1927, the 1926 Post Office and a 1927 tearoom. The house contains exhibits that trace local history from the time of the Calusa Indians up to pioneer settlement in the late 19th and early 20th century.