When you come to Sanibel or Captiva Islands, there’s plenty to see and do. Enjoy the white sands between your toes, indulge in fresh local seafood, or learn more about the area’s fascinating backstory. Suppose you’re searching for an attraction with fun, nature, and education all wrapped into one convenient location. In that case, you won’t want to miss a visit to the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation. It’s just minutes from our Sanibel Island vacation rentals and will impress the entire family!
What is the SCCF?
The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, or SCCF for short, was founded in 1967 and has spent the last half-century protecting some of Southwest Florida’s most delicate and vital ecosystems. This organization manages over 1,200 acres across Sanibel Island and 600+ acres of land on other islands.
Today, the SCCF not only manages land but also holds special events and programs designed to teach visitors and the community about the importance of conservation and preservation.
SCCF is an incredible nonprofit organization that helps keep Sanibel Island the breathtaking destination it is today.
Many of the best things in Sanibel Island have to do with the great outdoors, and the SCCF is no exception. Across Sanibel, Florida, the SCCF is in charge of over eight miles of nature trails for you and your family to experience. You can find these trails in preserves all over the island, so you can always rest assured that there’s a trail not far away from our Sanibel Island rentals! While the SCCF maintains several non-public wildlife preserves designated as such for wildlife and habitat protection, they also have six public preserves you’re welcome to visit.
The Erick Lindblad Preserve covers over 200 acres and stores some stunning nature, including portions of the Sanibel River and the beautiful uplands and freshwater wetlands nearby. You have three options for trail exploration here. Take the 0.75-mile round-trip trail to the Observation Tower for the shortest route. The other two trails, the Sabal Palm Trail and the East River Trail are 1.25 miles each, round trip.
Head to the Sanibel Gardens Preserve to see history come to life. This 265-acre preserve aims to protect and restore the stunning and rare barrier island freshwater wetlands that sit along the Sanibel River.
At the Periwinkle Preserve, you’ll find seven acres of tropical hardwood hammocks to explore. After a devastating hurricane in 2004, over 5,000 plants were planted, and eventually, lush trees and shrubs will dominate the preserve. Today, you’ll find an easy-to-navigate trail with plenty of tropical plants and native birds along the way.
The Bailey Homestead Preserve covers 20+ acres and is the location of the Native Landscapes and Garden Center. While not all of the preserve is accessible to guests, you can still explore nearly 10 acres of land. Be sure to walk along the Shipley Trail and visit the garden center for some fun goodies and souvenirs!
Pick Preserve is over 400 acres, but a significant portion is off-limits to guests to protect the local wildlife. Still, over 25 acres of land has been dedicated to educational purposes and often holds field trips and special visits from local schools.
Finally, the Bob Wigley Preserve covers almost 30 acres and is an impressive wildlife habit worth your time. You’ll find two trails in this preserve, one of which takes you to an overlook with panoramic views of the Sanibel River. Another trail leads to a gazebo where you can enjoy lunch or admire nature.
If you want to learn some fun facts about Sanibel and bring yourself closer to nature, try to attend one of SCCF’s fun events! These events happen periodically throughout the year, so something fun should happen no matter the season you visit.
SCCF often holds walking tours of their preserves, allowing you to experience the trails with the help of a trusty and knowledgeable guide. In the past, the organization has held 1.5-hour trail walks at the Bailey Homestead and Lindblad Preserve.
Another popular event is the Weeds ‘n’ Seeds walks, which typically last about two hours. On these walks, you’ll be taught how to identify various plant varieties around the island. Then, you’ll embark on your journey to find and identify these plants on your own! This tour is a great way to see nearly all of Sanibel while learning valuable skills.
The SCCF also holds lectures periodically to bring a special guests to the area. For instance, in the past, SCCF welcomed Dr. Robert Ballard, a respected underwater explorer best known for finding the Titanic shipwreck in 1985!
Education and Programs
In everything they do, the SCCF Is dedicated to education. Whether you’re a casual visitor or come back to the island every year, there’s always something new to learn about Sanibel and Captiva Islands!
One of their most popular educational programs is Evenings at the Homestead. This series at the Bailey Homestead Preserve invites you to listen to fascinating speakers and view unique documentaries about the area. Not only will you learn quite a bit, but you’ll also be able to enjoy the beautiful views of the grounds and the warm breeze in the evening since this event is held outside!
Of course, the SCCF does much to encourage education even outside of their programs. For instance, they have created a valuable resource concerning environmental stewardship on the islands. For visitors and residents alike, SCCF suggests tips like “refrain from feeding wildlife” and “boat responsibly.” They even hold special events for new residents to teach them about the island’s various habitats and how to protect them.
If you plan to include fishing on Sanibel Island, then check out the Mind Your Line movement. This educational effort reveals the dangers of unattended or improperly used fishing lines and hooks, which could be eaten by local wildlife like birds or turtles. You can learn how to unhook a bird from a fishing line and see how to dispose of your used line properly.
Finally, the SCCF presents the Brush of Excellence Environmental Art Award each year. This award goes to an artist who uses their talent in art to promote conservation. Each year, the artist chosen to receive the award gets to see their artwork on display at the Nature Center until Earth Day. At that point, the painting is given away in a drawing, and the proceeds go to the SCCF Conservation Education Fund.
Plan Your Visit!
Immerse yourself in education, beautiful nature, and tons of fun at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation. Find your Sanibel Island vacation rental today!
When staying in one of our Sanibel Island rentals, set aside some time to visit the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation. They’re doing some truly fantastic work and are worth your time. Once you’re done exploring nature for the day, come back to one of our Sanibel or Captiva vacation rentals to relax and freshen up for the evening. Gopher Rentals is proud to offer Sanibel and Captiva vacation rentals for groups of all sizes, allowing you to make the most of your trip no matter how many people are coming along. Contact us today to learn more about our Captiva and Sanibel Island condo rentals!