During our visit to Sanibel Island, we had the chance to visit Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge a couple of time. I have to say this is a MUST DO for anyone visiting the area!
Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge - Sanibel Island, Florida
The refuge is amazing! You will be in total awe of the number of birds you see as you drive along the driving trail. It is crazy when you come around the corner and there are a ton of bright pink Roseate Spoonbills just waiting for you.
There is a great educational center at the beginning of the refuge! There are wonderful displays that are great for all ages. They have hands-on educational displays with a ton of easy to understand information. One recommendation is to make sure and meet Ranger Becky if she is working while you are there. We had the chance to take a tour with Ranger Becky and she is truly a fountain of knowledge about the area.
She does interpretive and kids programs at the park. While we were there she showed us a ton of wildlife that we might have missed walking down the trail. I almost teared up at one point during our visit. We were standing in the educational center and one of Ranger Becky’s students came to visit her.
She was so excited to see Ranger Becky and give her a hug she was shaking. She couldn’t wait to tell Ranger Becky all about the wildlife she had seen and how much she remembered from her classroom visit. It was so cool to see a kid that excited about nature and talking with a Park Ranger!
One tip we have for your visit is to make sure that you wear bug spray and bring it with you. The mosquitoes and No See Um Bugs are prevalent in some areas of the refuge since it is right next to the water. We forgot our bug spray one morning and lets just say we paid for it big time!
Some visitors were these mosquito net hats or body nets when they are taking pictures to protect themselves from the bugs. These would be great if you plan on staying in one spot and taking pictures for a while They are definitely on our must-buy list for our next trip.
You can easily stand in one spot and take pictures of amazing birds for hours.
Keep an eye out for bobcats and alligators in the park. They are frequent visitors along with dolphins and manatees.
The Ding Darling Refuge has both fresh and saltwater areas so you have a diverse mix of wildlife present at the park.
Ding Darling Tram Ride
There is a Ding Darling tram ride that runs a couple of times a day that has a naturalist on board. We did not have a chance to take the tram ride but we heard great things about it.
The naturalists have to go through rigorous training before they are able to lead a tram ride. This is a great way to get an education and not have to worry about driving through the park.
Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge Travel Tips
~ Pack your water bottle for your visit. The refuge does not sell bottled water on site. They do have a water bottle refill station and foldable water bottles for sale in the store
~ Wear bug spray and bring it with you!!!! I can not put enough exclamation marks on this to really make sure to convey this message!
~Bring binoculars to get great views of the birds
~Don’t forget your camera! There are so many things to take pictures of
~It is $5 cash to drive the autoroute or $1 for bikes or pedestrians.
You can find out more about Ding Darling by checking out their website, Facebook page, and YouTube channel. They have great videos on their YouTube channel!
Additional Sanibel Island Resources
Top things to do on Sanibel Island
Sanibel Island Restaurant Guide
The Bubble Room - Captiva Island
I love taking photos of wildlife. I once sat at a river and sketched, made notes and photographed ducks and seagulls for hours. I'd love to go there.
What gorgeous birds. It looks like a good time was had by all while learning about some unique species!
This looks like a wonderful sanctuary for wildlife. As an avid bird watcher and animal advocate, I would really enjoy spending a time at a place like this. I'll keep this in mind for my next trip to Florida.
Wow. The pictures are amazing. I love visiting wild life and this would be absolutely amazing.
I love these photos. I used to volunteer for a bird refuge, so this is so interesting to me. I would love to see some of these up close in person!
What awesome pictures - those pink birds are beautiful. Great post!
I love roseate spoonbills, ibis, and flamingos—and all the South Florida tropical birds. Wonderful photos.
These are absolutely stunning photos. I love birds they are so colorful. Thanks so much for sharing.
I can see how just standing there and watching the wildlife come and go would be utterly amazing. I'm noting that bug spray necessity though.
Mama to 5 BLessings
What a beautiful place to visit. So relaxing - I would not want to leave!
How beautiful! I could spend hours there just watching the birds.
I love wildlife refuges. Zoos are okay, but there's just something about seeing nature in action that's the best.
Oh, this is beautiful! I'd love to take my daughter and just let her see nature in action.
How beautiful! Wildlife refuges are the best! I love them, because there are no cages. It's just wild nature.
Gorgeous pictures. Must be such a peaceful place to visit.
This looks like a great place to visit with the family. I love that they have a diverse collection of wildlife.
These are some beautiful birds! There are a few creatures that are a bit creepy;byte really cool!
Wow, what beautiful photos... I find it sad that we need places like this since wildlife is just not so safe anymore, but I am so thankful that these places exist
This refuge is beautiful! Totally worth the No See Um Bugs, huh? Thank you for sharing these beautiful pictures!
What beautiful creatures! Loved your photos!
Awesome collection of birds!
That would be such an amazing tour, your photos are beautiful! Kids could learn so much going here! Great tips too, thanks for this!
These pictures are beautiful! What an amazing place!!
Your pictures are amazing!!
What a fun experience.
Wat an amazing place! I would love to visit there one day.
Wow, I can easily see how you could spend hours taking pictures of the animals. You got some amazing shots!
Robin (Masshole Mommy)
Wow, what an amazing adventure. Those flamingos are gorgeous.