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J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge

#2 of 56 things to do in Sanibel Island Features Animals
1 Wildlife Dr, Sanibel Island, FL 33957-3032
+1 239-472-1100
Review Highlights
A must see Sanibel

This bird refuge is very well done. There are short hikes if you choose or you can see a lot by... read more

Reviewed 1 week ago
Ely, Minnesota, United States
via mobile
Just wasn't our thing!

We opted to drive by car and it was very boring and we didn't see much but a few birds,crabs, and... read more

Reviewed 1 week ago
Wyoming, Michigan
via mobile
Read all 4,734 reviews
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Established in 1945, this wildlife refuge occupies one-third of Sanibel Island and is a prime spot for birdwatching. Fees are required for Wildlife Drive. Wildlife Drive is closed on Fridays. There's an extensive and informative FREE visitor center, a fantastic wildlife drive, tram tours, kayaking, fishing opportunities, picnic benches, and even a free scavenger hunt style game and wildlife spotting app (Discover Ding) if you prefer a self-guided tour.
  • Excellent66%
  • Very good23%
  • Average8%
  • Poor2%
  • Terrible1%
Travellers talk about
“ding darling” (550 reviews)
“tram tour” (315 reviews)
“white pelicans” (208 reviews)
1 Wildlife Dr, Sanibel Island, FL 33957-3032
+1 239-472-1100
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Reviews (4,734)
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11 - 20 of 4,467 reviews

Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile

This bird refuge is very well done. There are short hikes if you choose or you can see a lot by driving through and pulling out occasionally. So many wintering birds! Beautiful…

Thank Wanderlist777
Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile

We opted to drive by car and it was very boring and we didn't see much but a few birds,crabs, and rabbits if you are interested in these things then I would recommend it but this was just not for me. BRING BUG SPRAY!

Thank MIgator
Reviewed 1 week ago

Enjoyed the drives and stops. Staff was very informative and helpful on getting the most of the drive

Thank Daniel D
Reviewed 1 week ago

We really enjoyed the natural beauty of the island and the ability to get away and use bikes to see the wildlife reserve.

Thank Robb G
Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile

We missed the prime time to go which we hear is in the early morning or later afternoon. Of course we were there at the hottest time of day so there wasn't much happening.

Thank Jackie E
Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile

We dropped by on a Friday hoping to do the driving tour. However, the driving tours are closed on Fridays. The rangers offered us other options such as a walking tour or kayak tour, but We had 4 children ranging in age from 7-12 with...More

Thank Hran
Reviewed 1 week ago

I was warned ahead of time that May is not the best time to visit Sanibel. The birds are not as plentiful as they are in winter; even the shells are not as big. The Ding Darling Refuge is still a wonderful place to visit,...More

Thank wowgirl3
Reviewed 1 week ago

We took a kayaking tour and although we are avid kayakers in Florida, we learned so much! After the beautiful two-hour tour, you can go on your own for as long as you like. The drive around the park is also breath-taking!

1  Thank Dori H
Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile

Even with little ones, they thought this place was great & so did my husband and I. It was fun going around and spotting all the different birds and wildlife we could find. We would definitely do it again!

Thank 3ofAknd
Reviewed 2 weeks ago via mobile

Great nature center and miles of walking and driving trails. The tram tour was cancelled on our day due to severe weather but we were fortunate to see wildlife galore. I'm a birder so was excited to see multiple species of egrets, ibis, heron, and...More

Thank Shyner13
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Questions & AnswersAsk a question
Deborah K
Can you drive through this park?
21 May 2017|
Answer Show all 4 answers
Response from Lsterry | Reviewed this property |
Yes. It costs $5 but it's a beautiful drive.
I am sorry but I have a terrible fear of spiders so I'm wondering does the tram go through any areas where there are lots of them to be found? I so love all wildlife and this is just something totally irrational but I don't want it to spoil me see the rest of the refuge.
19 May 2017|
Answer Show all 2 answers
Response from Amanda H | Reviewed this property |
I think you'll be fine. You are in an enclosed vehicle that drives along a paved road. There is one bit where you can get out and walk along a boardwalk through some mangroves so you can learn how they grow and see the crabs... More
Is a reservation required/advised for the tram tour?
3 March 2017|
Response from Travelingwillie | Reviewed this property |
Yes, It is advised and often necessary to be sure you get the time you prefer.