Sanibel and Captiva Island have a nearly legendary history of preservation and protection. Large swaths of the islands are secured and protected from development and are maintained as park areas and wildlife conservations.
One of the leading resources behind this stellar history of protection is the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation. The foundation is responsible for the oversight of about 1860 acres of land across nearly 200 different projects. For about 52 years, the foundation has secured some of the most incredible and breathtaking lands along the coast of Florida, with over 34 miles of waterways and many nooks, water holes, and wetlands responsible for hosting rare and endangered local and migratory wildlife. Some projects include the Bailey Homestead Preserve and the Sanibel Gardens Preserve.
Much of this history is chronicled and explored at the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation’s very own Nature Center. What is it can what can you find hidden inside?
The Nature Center
The Nature Center is a modest building with a focus on educating visitors about the local wildlife they may see when exploring the surrounding area.
The Nature Center incorporates a small walking exhibit. There is also a gift shop on the premises where you can buy special take-home items, like postcards, stuffed animals, and stones.
Animal lovers can find adorable turtle and terrapin aquariums as well as a marine touch tank.
The Nature Center is housed by an on-site expert who can guide you to various activities. One of the most popular is the walking tour, a guided trip through the trails. The nature trail is an interlocking journey that you can take as long or as short as you desire. It weaves in and out, as if two figure-8’s overlapping, with many different forks and the road to keep your interest.
The nature trails are about four miles long in total. Guests who venture deep enough may eventually come across a large observation tower, perfect for capturing a fun family photograph.
Don’t worry about getting turned around. The Nature Center includes a paper map you can bring along for the journey!
Butterfly House and Native Plant Nursery
The center was home to a Butterfly House, but it has recently shut down. Many of its plants and other features have been relocated to the Native Landscapes & Garden Center, located at 1300 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel. This dedicated center is open Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and can be contacted during opening hours at 239-472-1932. Visitors can learn how to achieve their very own nature and butterfly garden.
The Native Landscapes & Garden Center is part of the larger Bailey Homestead Preserve. The preserve houses a windmill, pavilion, paved trail ways, a dune and beachside, and gorgeous water and relaxation area called Devitt Pond. It is a stellar place to just wander and explore on a quaint afternoon.
The Native Plant Nursery is still on site. Ask at the front desk for further details.
Nature Center Details
The Nature Center is located at 3333 Sanibel Captiva Dr. It can be found right near mile marker 1, about one mile west of Tarpon Bay Road.
The center can be reached at (239) 472-2329. It is open daily, Monday through Friday, and closed on weekends, though you can still visit the site, including four miles of trails.
There is no cost for the center, though prices and availability for various nature tours may vary.
Nature Center Closed Through September 2019
The nature center is expected to remain closed for renovations through September 2019, but the trails will remain open for visitors.
The nature center and the surrounding trails are only one small piece of a far more ambitious effort from the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation. The organization is firmly dedicated to the conservation of coastal habitats and aquatic resources on Sanibel and Captiva. The group is still actively acquiring more barrier islands to protect and secure for generations to come. To help support the group’s initiatives and learn a little more about what they are doing, visit the website at www.sccf.org. For more about our place in the community, explore our blog and review our page where you can find your perfect Captiva Island vacation rental.