Parks & Wildlife on Sanibel Island and Captiva Island

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Discover tropical wetlands, mangrove-lined kayak trails, abundant wildlife, and pristine wilderness as you head outdoors to explore the islands. There are several parks on Sanibel Island, and although there are technically no parks on Captiva Island, the barrier island is very well-preserved and home to thousands of species. Choose between countless trails, enjoy rod-bending excitement as you bait up, or simply listen to the unique sounds of your surroundings. Either way, you'll never run out of nature and wildlife areas on Sanibel Island and its surrounding areas.

J.N.

J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge

The J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge is by far the largest nature and wildlife area on Sanibel Island and makes up much of the island. Known worldwide for its migratory bird populations, more than 245 species of birds can be spotted in the refuge as well as thousands of species of plants and other animals. The refuge features more than 6,400 acres of trails, fishing, tours, and educational activities.
Location: 1 Wildlife Dr, Sanibel, FL
Phone: (239) 472-1100
Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)

Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)

CROW isn`t a wildlife park but a teaching hospital and visitor education center dedicated to saving wildlife. The non-profit focuses on state-of-the-art veterinary care, research, education, and conservation medicine. You can get a behind-the-scenes look at their work with educational displays and presentations.
Location: 3883 Sanibel Captiva Road, Sanibel, FL
Phone: (239) 472-3644
Lovers Key State Park

Lovers Key State Park

This state park offers two miles of beautiful, untarnished shoreline. Lovers Key gets its name because it`s known as a popular site for stunning Gulf-side weddings. The beach`s white sand and clear waters are well worth the $8 entrance fee per vehicle.
Location: 8700 Estero Blvd, Fort Myers Beach, FL
Phone: (239) 463-4588
Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve

Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve

Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve is about 3,500 acres, 11 miles long, and less than a mile wide. The wetland houses diverse species including some endangered ones. The preserve is known for its 1.2-mile boardwalk trail that`s great for kids and also features an interpretive center and amphitheater.
Location: 7751 Penzance Blvd, Fort Myers, FL
Phone: (239) 533-7550
The Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail

The Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail

A paddler`s dream, the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail is a 190-mile marked canoe and kayak trail that travels through the nature and wildlife areas of Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, and Fort Myers. Immerse yourself in the beautiful area while getting a glimpse of animals and vibrant vegetation.
Location: Lee County, FL
Manatee Park

Manatee Park

You and the kids will love Manatee Park! The waterfront park is a non-captive refuge for the Florida Manatee and offers paved trails, views of manatees in the wild, kayak rentals, and an amphitheater. Pro Tip: Late December, January, and February is the best time to see the creatures because the Gulf is below 68 degrees.
Location: 10901 Palm Beach Blvd, Fort Myers, FL
Phone: (239) 690-5030
Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park

Sanibel Island is about an hour and 40 minutes from the Gulf Coast Visitor Center, the Everglades National Park`s nearest visitor center to the islands. The area is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States making it an adventurer`s dream!
Location: South Florida
Phone: (305) 242-7700
Cayo Costa State Park

Cayo Costa State Park

Technically, there aren`t designated nature and wildlife areas on Captiva Island, but Cayo Costa State Park is still considered to be Captiva. Only accessible by boat or helicopter, the state park provides visitors with a Gulf Coast island that`s almost completely untouched by man. The most popular activity in the park is paddling because the passages between the small islands are teeming with wildlife.
Location: Captiva, Lee County, FL
Phone: (941) 964-0375
Big Cypress National Preserve

Big Cypress National Preserve

Right above the Everglades National Park sits the Big Cypress National Preserve. The Big Cypress Swamp is a beautiful estuary great for spotting wildlife and vast amounts of plant species.
Location: Collier County, FL
Phone: (239) 695-2000
Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest

Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest

The Okaloacoochee Slough covers more than 32,000 acres and features countless listed, threatened, and endangered species including the Florida panther, Florida black bear, sandhill crane, wood stork, and gopher tortoise.
Location: 6265 Keri Road, Felda, FL
Phone: (863) 612-0776
Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (CREW) Wildlife and Environmental Area

Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (CREW) Wildlife and Environmental Area

This Florida wildlife area is preserved by the CREW Land and Water Trust. They are committed to the conservation of water resources and natural communities in the CREW. The group provides guided walks and other educational resources to the public. The area offers hiking, biking, camping, fishing, and more.
Location: 27527 Vincent Road, Bonita Springs, FL
Phone: (239) 657-2253
Estero Bay Preserve State Park

Estero Bay Preserve State Park

Right beside Estero Island on the mainland, you`ll find the Estero Bay Preserve State Park. The 10,000-acre park sits along 10 miles of Estero Bay and was the first aquatic preserve established in Florida. The park offers classic outdoor activities like hiking and biking, but the best way to experience the bay and the preserve is by boat.
Location: 4940 Broadway West, Estero, FL
Phone: (239) 992-0311