Sanibel and Captiva Islands
On a recommendation from Judi, with whom I hiked The Wave, I headed out to Sanibel and Captiva Islands for the day. Known for their spectacular beaches and abundance of shells, I started the day exploring the coastline.
Driving however I saw a sign for the Bailey Tract of the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge and, eager to stretch my legs, I decided to take a gander. The Bailey Tract was a short marshy trail loop with unexpectedly pretty scenery and lots of wildlife, most of which I cannot identify. In addition to all the unknown birds I saw turtles sunning on a log in the lagoon and a small alligator that swam right towards me.
Discovering there was more to the wildlife refuge, I altered my course, ending up spending quite a few hours along the Wildlife Drive, a 9-mile loop that provides access into the heart of mangrove thickets, lagoons, and ponds where fish leap from the water and multiple species of migratory birds alternately rest on sandbars and drift on the air currents.
I then made my way over to Captiva Island, where I briefly scouted out the beach.