Top summer destinations on Sanibel
According to Sanibel Captiva Chamber of Commerce Member Services Manager John Lai, the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Tarpon Bay Explorers and CROW are some of the most popular tourist destinations during the summertime. Besides being a hit with both visitors and locals, these organizations are kid-friendly as well.
“From a visitor’s perspective, we know how important it is to drive the natural beauty of the area – that message, down to our visitors. (We want) to make sure they take advantage of the attractions that embrace that,” Lai said. “These organizations enhances our visitor’s stay and tells them more about our environment.”
Below, Lai describes what makes these summer destinations top-notch:
- Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum
“They do an amazing job of educating how a shell is formed,” Lai said. Some of the daily offerings of the shell museum include tank talks, shell crafts and beach walks. For more information about their different programs, call (239) 395-2233.
- J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge
Lai said that one of the benefits of visiting “Ding” is driving, biking or walking down Wildlife Drive. Wildlife Drive is open every day, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., except for Fridays. Admission is $5 per vehicle and $1 for bikers and pedestrians. Birds and other critters are often spotted.
“You can drive through Wildlife Drive at any point in time and get lost in the fact that this is the way Sanibel has been over the test of time,” Lai said.
Besides Wildlife Drive, the refuge has a Visitors & Education Center, free family programs and additional hiking trails. For more information, call (239) 472-1100.
- Tarpon Bay Explorers
Tarpon Bay Explorers which is the licensed concession to J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, offers kayak and canoe rentals, pontoon rentals, nature tours, tank talks, tram tours and nature and sealife cruises.
“Tarpon Bay gives you the ability to get out into the bay and do their kayak tours and paddle tours and learn more about the estuaries and the mangroves, things that really hold (Sanibel) together that a visitor coming here for the first wouldn’t know unless they researched it or went out to one of these educational components that we have to offer,” Lai said.
For those who are looking to learn more about Sanibel’s vast wildlife, CROW is an excellent starting point. CROW offers wildlife walks with rehabilitation staff and numerous education programs.
“Everyone loves animals it seems and the Sanibel and Captiva visitors are no different. As a matter of a fact, they probably love them more than most. (CROW) explains what our role is as residents and visitors and what are our responsibilities should be when an animal is hurt,” Lai said. To view CROW’s ongoing programs, go to crowclinic.org or call (239) 472-3644.