The best place in Florida to celebrate spring, explore nature and view plants and flowers during Gardening Month is on Sanibel Island. Hands down. The island is filled with parks, conservation trails, boardwalks and natural habitats that are awash in native plants and colorful flowers this time of year. Here are the best places to enjoy spring and take in all that Sanibel Island has to offer.
The Botanical Gardens at Sanibel Moorings
The Botanical Gardens at Sanibel Moorings is a great place for gardeners to experience all the area has to offer when it comes to tropical plants and flowers. In the spring there are more than 40 tropical flowers and plants blooming at the Botanical Gardens. Just a sampling of what’s blooming includes:
- African Tulip Trees
- Jacaranda Tree
- Sun Bromeliads
The Botanical Gardens offers garden visits and self-guided tours by horticulturists. Overnights guests of Sanibel Moorings receive free tours 9 a.m. Tuesdays and public tours are offered 9 a.m. Wednesdays and Friday for $5 per person. Reservations are required.
Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation trails
The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation has four miles of walking trails at its Nature Center on Sanibel-Captiva Road. In total, the foundation, which purpose is to preserve the island’s natural beauty, owns more than 2,100 acres of conservation land on Sanibel, Pine and Buck islands. Some of the trails border the freshwater Sanibel River. There’s a lookout tower that gives you a fantastic view at wetlands, hammock plants, flowers and native tropical hardwood trees such as gumbo limbos and buttonwoods.
The Center-Tract Trail on Sanibel-Captiva Road is the only trail that charges a fee, which is $5 per person. Children under 17 and members are free.
The foundation also has a Native Landscapes & Garden Center and a nursery where horticulturists plant and preserve native plants.
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge
For up close and personal mangrove viewing, the 6,300-acre J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is the place to be. The refuge is a great place to spot Seagrape, salt and wax myrtles, red mangrove, sabal and cabbage palms and other native plants.
It’s also regarded as the best refuge around for bird watching, canoe trails and bike and walking paths.
Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through April and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from May through October. The refuge is closed on Fridays. Tours of the sanctuary can be scheduled through Tarpon Bay Explorers.
Pond Apple Park
Pond Apple Park has a trail with some of the oldest Sanibel Island plantings and native plants in the area that sit along a 40-acre wildlife preserve.
Plants and flowers include:
- Bahama Senna, a fast growing salt tolerant plant that has yellow blooms through July
- Bay Cedar shrubs that produce small yellow flowers in clusters
- Beauty Berry shrubs that produce bright purple berries
- Peeling copper-colored trees called Gumbo Limbo, which produce flowers and that turn from green to red.
No visit to Sanibel Island is complete without a trip to the beach, which is also a great spot to find mangroves, dunes, bayou plants and other vegetation.
Red, black and white mangroves with rounded leaves and pencil shaped roots are a site to behold as you enjoy the sunset on Sanibel Island.
Be sure to spot the rubbery green leaves of the Seagrape, which thrive in saltwater conditions, produce grape-like fruit clusters and can grow up to 30-feet in height.
While you’re at it the shelling is fantastic on Sanibel beaches too, so be prepared to grab a bucket and scoop up some of the best shells to wash up upon this country’s shores.
Book Your Sanibel Island Visit Now
Spring is a fantastic time to visit Southwest Florida and Sanibel Island. While you’re here exploring, keep an eye out for the wildlife too. You’re likely to see alligators, Florida panthers, turtles, frogs and several species of birds.
Now’s the time to book. You can rent a fully furnished condo with a fully functional kitchen at Royal Shell Vacation Rentals.
Also, rent a boat to go fishing or take a charter at Port Sanibel Marina to view the island and its natural beauty from the water. If you’d like to book a boat or a fishing charter while you’re here, give us a call at 239-437-1660 to plan your trip. Our experienced captains are knowledgeable about the area’s wildlife and foliage and are happy to answer questions that will enhance your experience.