Tarpon Bay Explorers - Explore and Discover

To best experience nature along the 4-mile
Wildlife Drive in the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, the guided Refuge Tram Tour is a must.

Tarpon Bay Explorers

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Tarpon Bay Explorers
900 Tarpon Bay Road
Sanibel Island, FL  33957
Open 7 Days A Week At 8am

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Refuge Tram Tour - $13 adult, $8 child

“Being on Wildlife Drive without a guide is like watching the Discovery Channel with the volume turned down.” – Tour guest

Our experienced naturalists can help you spot wildlife most visitors would never see.  As the road meanders past tidal mudflats and mangrove forests, roseate spoonbills, white ibis, little blue herons, reddish egrets, brown pelicans, osprey, and other colorful birds can be seen feeding, resting, and preening.  View many other species that make the migratory stopover of "Ding" Darling part of their annual flight corridor. And no trip on Wildlife Drive is complete without stopping by Alligator Curve, where you are almost sure to observe these prehistoric reptiles.  It’s not all about the wildlife, though.  You’ll also hear fascinating tales of the Calusa Indians and the early days of Sanibel and south Florida.    

Taking the Refuge Tram Tour also benefits wildlife.  Reducing the number of cars along Wildlife Drive helps to protect the animals from polluting exhaust fumes and noisy automobile engines.  Plus, by leaving the driving to us, you’ll have your hands free to capture those amazing photos or to peer through binoculars and gaze at the wildlife. (~1 ½ hours, tram does not run on Fridays)


While visitors to Sanibel are drawn by the island’s natural beauty, they may not be aware that approximately one-third of Sanibel is a federally protected wildlife refuge.  For many years, J. N. “Ding” Darling had a winter home on Captiva Island. Through the efforts of his island neighbors and the J.N. “Ding” Darling Foundation, a refuge was created on Sanibel Island from land donated by concerned citizens and land acquired by the federal government.  Administered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, this Sanibel refuge has protected habitat for wildlife since 1945. It was renamed in Jay Norwood Darling's honor and officially dedicated to him in 1978.  Today, the refuge is comprised of more than 6,000 acres and has been hailed as one of the top birding spots in the nation.  It is also home to several endangered species, including American alligators, American crocodiles, wood storks, West Indian manatees and Atlantic loggerhead sea turtles.

Tarpon Bay Explorers is the licensed concessionaire of the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, providing low impact recreational and educational opportunities to the public under contract with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.