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J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge

#2 of 55 things to do in Sanibel Island Features Animals
1 Wildlife Dr, Sanibel Island, FL 33957-3032
+1 239-472-1100
Review Highlights
A great intro to Wildlife of Southwest Florida

Start with the educational Building and displays, then drive/bike/walk through the protected... read more

Reviewed 26 April 2016
Visit bird wintering area

This is one of two NFWR open to the public. The 4mile lane thru the area goes by many areas that... read more

Reviewed 26 April 2016
Cape Coral, Florida
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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 (4,733)
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1,121 - 1,130 of 4,466 reviews

Reviewed 26 April 2016

Start with the educational Building and displays, then drive/bike/walk through the protected Preserve Road-the Tram Ride is an option also. Wildlife, alligators, and protected habitat for all nature of flora/fauna. A must visit.

Thank Captivaboy
Reviewed 26 April 2016

This is one of two NFWR open to the public. The 4mile lane thru the area goes by many areas that birds roost for the winter. It is different from morning to night and from early winter to late spring. Check the tide tables as...More

Reviewed 25 April 2016 via mobile

Large and beautiful wildlife refuge. Be sure to slow down when driving through and make sure to stop at all the lookout areas. You may be surprised what you find! We were!

Thank tj911chick
Reviewed 25 April 2016 via mobile

Always informative with art work that changes. A great way to introduce the island to visitors. Wood carvings are the best collection I have seen.

Thank Mid S
Reviewed 24 April 2016

The preserve road is about 4 miles and covers over 6K acres of protected mangrove and is habitat to many species of birds, aquatic life and coastal wildlife. You should checkout the monthly chart of what you can expect to see on the Ding Darling...More

1  Thank Mmitchel
Reviewed 24 April 2016 via mobile

We took the tram ride. Reasonably priced for about 90mins. Guide was well informed and pointed out birds, crabs and mangroves. Not too much animal life. I understand it's not a performance. Nice trip.

Thank PCMAN1964
Reviewed 24 April 2016 via mobile

Staff was wonderful. The exhibits were very nice (a little dusty) and informative. The car tour was very good for birders; easy to go at our own pace.

1  Thank CYuhas
Reviewed 23 April 2016

Its a pretty drive thru this park with areas you can park and walk thru nature. Plenty of birds to see. Worth the visit to see real Florida with its mangroves and backwater areas.

Thank Buc40
Reviewed 22 April 2016

Enjoyed the tram, as we had never visited here before. Make sure you purchase bug spray in shop for the "no-see-um" bugs! Lots of wildlife visible.

1  Thank lellis12016
Reviewed 22 April 2016

This is any easy place to drive through and most of the birds are readily seen from the road although there are some trails to walk if you wish. Mostly waterbirds are seen and they are large and mostly white so are easy to spot....More

Thank Stephen O
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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.