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13 Feb 2018
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Hints and TipsSanibel Outdoors

Though Sanibel is a hidden treasure itself, often considered the jewel in Sanibel's crown, it contains dozens of nooks and crannies well worth exploring.

Here are some of our favorites, and we hope you will add some of your own.

Periwinkle Park's Mini Zoo:
Sanibel Island doesn't have its own zoo, but many islanders say this is the closest thing to a zoo on the island. It's the exotic animal display at Periwinkle Park and Campground off Periwinkle Way. Park your car outside the park and take a quick stroll into the park and it'll be on your left hand side. It features many species of exotic and native birds - such as toucans and macaws. You'll also see brown and ringtailed lemurs. The park's general manager says it began as his dad's hobby and grew over time into an attraction. Libby, a resident of the park who cares for the birds, offers a parrot show weekdays (except Wednesdays) at 10 a.m. She takes the birds out and lets visitors hold them.

The observation tower at the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation:
Sanibel Island and its sister island, Captiva Island, are great places for bird watching. Visitors or “birders” go to the islands to enjoy the subtropical climate, sit on the beaches and enjoy the many species of birds that visit each year. The observation tower is a great place to get a birds eye view. It's hidden behind the Nature Center at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, off Sanibel-Captiva Road. This tower doesn't get visited by many compared to the tower at Ding Darling. That's what makes it a great hidden gem. Take a quick stroll through the trails to get to the tower and you will be met with peacefulness and true wilderness. The tower is very well built and offers a breathtaking view when you get to the top.

The Shipley Trail:
The Shipley Trail is one of Sanibel's many trails. It connects Roadside City Park off Periwinkle Way and Pond Apple Park/Trail. It travels through the Bailey Homestead Preserve, which isn't open to the public just yet. The trail is the special and perfect length if you want to experience one of Sanibel's trails but don't have much time to invest. But if you do have time, walk over the Starr D. Thomas Memorial Boardwalk and walk the Pond Apple Trail which leads back to the Chamber of Commerce.

The Bailey Tract:
Ding Darling is by far one of the island's most popular attractions, so we had to include a hidden secret within the refuge. Although it's not intended to be a hidden secret, staffers say visitors often overlook the Bailey Tract off Tarpon Bay Road. It's described as true wilderness and we took a hike to confirm that. The tract is 100 acres and was first owned by Frank P. Bailey, a Sanibel pioneer. It's a great place to view wildlife, take photos and fish. Staff at Ding Darling say visitors have a higher chance of seeing wildlife at play as opposed to areas with more visitors. The refuge hopes to restore the tract to its original spartina marsh habitat, control invasive plants, and continue to protect the native plant and animal species. The refuge also hopes to make the tract more interactive and educational for visitors in the future.

The Beach at Blind Pass:
There is a hidden jewel situated only a few miles down the road from Bowman’s. While there is a fee to park at Blind Pass, as with most beaches in the area, it’s $6.00 USD per hour as of February 2018. With great fishing, constant sightings of dolphins and manatees playing, plenty of space to spread out, never ending sunshine to obtain that beautiful tan you’ve been craving, gorgeous scenery, lush flora and fauna, stunning waterfront mansions, restaurants and convenience stores nearby, and the gorgeous gentle waves hitting the shore, Blind Pass is truly one of Florida’s hidden gems. Sunset viewing from Blind Pass is incredible, and unforgettable as well.