We know that Sanibel and Captiva Islands are famous for their sugar sands, tropical weather, and emerald waters.
What some may not know, however, is that the Islands of Sanibel and Captiva are actually 67% protected conservation land. With unique interior freshwater wetlands and miles of mangrove mazes, there are some amazing hidden gems to discover off of the beaten beach path. Next time you’re down in the Islands, be sure to check out everything the Back Bay has to offer!
The Great Calusa Blueway Through The Back Bay
Hikers may have the Appalachian Trail, but paddlers have the Great Calusa Blueway. This is a trip spanning adventure throughout Sanibel, Captiva, Matlacha, and more with 190 miles of marked paddle boarding or kayaking routes. Explore through undisturbed mangrove wilderness and calm waters mostly inaccessible by motorboats. Download the app or pick up an easy-to-read map, and drop-in at the clearly marked points and exits. The Blueway is more of a ‘how do you eat an elephant’ quest…Take these trails in one bite at a time for maximum enjoyment.
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge On Sanibel and Captiva
The Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island is part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the United States! A whopping 6,400-acres, the refuge is home to more than 270 types of birds, 35 species of mammals, and 60 different reptiles and amphibians. Not to mention it is world-famous for its spectacular migratory bird population. There are ways for everyone to enjoy the Sanibel and Captiva Back Bay from the park, whether you choose Bicycling, kayaking, and even a guided tour on an open-sided tram-you can’t go wrong! Ding Darling can easily turn into a whole day destination, and we recommend really taking your time to meander through the trails and take in the undisturbed lush surroundings.
Ocean Tribe Paddlers
Ocean Tribe Paddlers is a recent addition to the popular Sanibel Sea School. Their goal is to inspire paddlers to better explore, enjoy, and understand the ocean. This is a great group for vacationers that are recurrent travelers to the Sanibel and Captiva Islands. There is a yearly membership fee that gives you access to amazing experiences like full moon paddle adventures, group paddles to popular Islands, and ‘Forget About The World’ sunset paddles. Group members also receive a discount to the Ocean Tribe Paddlers shop for some gear to take back home.