Volunteer interpreters, were regularly stationed throughout the drive to assist us with our questions about the refuge and its inhabitants.
Results 1-8of 8 Reviews
Brooklyn, New York
March 30, 2006
From journal Carefree in Captiva
June 22, 2005
From journal Girls' Weekend on Sanibel Island, FL
March 25, 2005
The best way, in my opinion, to get through the reservation and see everything that you can is by bike. It's a little far to walk to on foot, and you might miss a lot by car. Billy's down the street rents bicycles for reasonable prices. For the whole day (they close at 6pm), I believe the price was $12.
Because the area doesn't get much rain in the summer, you can still see the devastation that Hurricane Charley has caused. It's really sad to see some of the trees in such rough shape. The abundance of different types of animals keeps you attentive and interested. It's similar to a zoo experience, except you are right in there with all the animals, watching them in their home rather than in cages, which makes it much more exciting in my opinion.
From journal Nature at it's best
August 10, 2004
From journal Fun and Relaxation on Sanibel Island
December 23, 2002
From journal Magical, Mystical and Alluring Marco Island
December 22, 2002
It's all happening at the "Ding" Darling Wildlife Refuge. Mr. Darling (bless his soul) designed the "Duck Stamp". The proceeds from this stamp were used to buy over 4.4 million acres of wetlands. If you're a nature lover, you will absolutely love Sanibel.
Rent bikes when you get into town. Actually, there isn't a town. There are, however, several shopping centers, and various stores strewn along Sanibel-Captiva Rd. Lots of places to rent bikes. The entire ride is about 3-4 hours, but ladies, it's all level.
While riding toward the entrance of the DDWR, be sure to stop at the Sanibel Shell Museum. It's dedicated to Raymond Burr (Perry Mason).Tell the museum ladies that Pianoman says "hi". They occasionally serve guests some refreshments.
When you arrive at DDWR, be sure to visit the wildlife center and buy something.
Then either walk, ride, drive (boo!!!) or take the tram through the refuge. Large wetlands, Red Mangroves, marshes, bayous, and shellmounds are everywhere. So is every type of shore bird imaginable. Blue and Gray Herons,Snowy-White Egrets, Pelicans. They're all here. Roseate Spoonbills were my favorite. They're about 3&1/2 ft tall, bright pink birds, with the "platypus-type" spoonbill. Tons of fish too. These big ol' mullets (fish) were jumping right out of the water, catching mosquitoes (go, fish!). I saw a few of the locals fishing off a couple bridges along the drive. Spotted alligators too. It was great...
After returning the bikes, we headed on toward Captiva. Unfortunately, we arrived rather late. Too late to really explore the place. We did, however, find the Mucky Duck for sunset beverages on the beach. Bubbles, right down the road, is also very popular. We ran out of time and slowly returned to Naples, dodging occasional raccoons in our headlights.
From journal Key West, Little Palm Island & Naples
January 6, 2002
The richness of the reserve is incredible. In a morning's hike down the Indigo Trail, we saw hundreds of birds, leaping tarpon, crabs and shellfish, and two alligators. The first gator was a smallish one (6 feet long?) who splashed up onto the bank beside us to nap in the sun. We encountered the second much larger gator on our way back to the park center. Someone had thoughtfully scratched an arrow in the gravel path pointing to this monster (10-12 feet), who was peacefully snoozing on a sandbar.
You can experience the reserve by bicycle, on foot (probably best--we would probably have missed the gators had we been on bikes), or by car on the Wildlife Drive (which is closed for repair til mid-December, 2001).
The Park Center offers guided ranger tours on foot and by canoe. If you want to experience the reserve from the water, you can also rent a canoe or kayak at the Tarpon Bay Recreation Area and paddle a water trail through the mangroves. See my separate review.
If you're wondering about the unusual name, JN "Ding" Darling was a prominent political cartoonist in the 1930s and 40s. He was a champion of conservationism and was head of the US Biological Survey under President. Franklin Roosevelt. Darling had a winter home on Captiva Island and worked to protect large parts of Sanibel and Captiva from development.
From journal A Sanibel Island "Safari"
October 27, 2000
From journal Dolphins, dreaming & dollars