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August 26, 2007

Sanibel Island: Travel tips

Best for: Nature lovers, birders, wildlife art collectors, families, sun-worshippers and shellers. Getting there: Sanibel is a three-hour drive from Miami.

 Best for: Nature lovers, birders, wildlife art collectors, families, sun-worshippers and shellers.

 Getting there: Sanibel is a three-hour drive from Miami.

ECO-FUN

 Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge (239-472- 1100, www.fws.gov/dingdarling) is Sanibel's main attraction, famous among birders and home to alligators, bob cats, river otters, and other rare and endangered creatures. Admission, $5 per car.

 Tarpon Bay Explorers (239-472-8900, www.tarponbayexplorers.com) conducts naturalist-narrated tram and paddling tours; rents kayaks, canoes, and bikes for exploring the refuge.

 Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Nature Center (239-472-2329, www.sccf.org) has nature trails, observation tower, butterfly house, native nursery, and nature programs.

 Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum (239-395-2233 or 888-679-6450, www.shellmuseum.org) explores shells and their role in history and art.

 Captiva Cruises (239-472-5300, www.captivacruises.com) offers nature and island-hopping excursions.

 Sanibel Sea School (239-472-8585, www.sanibelseaschool.org) organizes out-in-the-field educational programs for adults and kids.

 Adventures in Paradise (239-437-1660; www.adventureinparadiseinc.com) takes you fishing, kayaking, and nature exploring by sea.

WHERE TO STAY

These lodgings are offering special discounts during Duck Stamp events.

 Island Inn, 800-851-5088, www.islandinnsanibel.com. Sanibel's historic beachfront resort is offering Ding Darling Days packages Oct. 8-14 at $175 for gulfview efficiencies, including continental breakfast each day.

 Periwinkle Cottages, 239-472-1880, www.periwinklecottages.com, which is adjacent to the Ding Darling Refuge, will deduct $10 per night off room rates for a four- to six-night stay ($90 and up) between Oct. 1 and 21.

 Sandalfoot Condominiums, 800-725-2250, www.sandalfootcondo.com, invites visitors for a three-night stay at $500 (plus $40 administrative fee) for a one-bedroom unit during the month of October. Rates for a one-week stay start at $1,035.

WHERE TO EAT

 Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille, 975 Rabbit Rd., 239-472-8311, www.docfordssanibel.com. Closest to the refuge, it serves lunch and dinner in an island- casual vein modeled after local novelist Randy Wayne White's eponymous sleuth hero. Dinner entrees $10.95-$28.95.

 Lazy Flamingo, at two locations: 6520-C Pine Ave., 239-472-5353; and 1036 Periwinkle Way, 239-472-6939, www.lazyflamingo.com. Informal, affordable seafood and burgers. Sandwiches and entrees $5.95-$20.95.

 Traders Store & Café, 1551 Periwinkle Way, 239-472-7242. Creative seafood presentations (especially the nightly specials) in a warehouse-style setting. Entrees $20-$30.

 Dolce Vita, 1244 Periwinkle Way, 239-472-5555, www.dolcevitaofsanibel.com. Italian-Mediterranean fine dining. Entrees $15.95-$28.50.

INFORMATION

 Lee Island Coast Visitor & Convention Bureau, 2180 W. First St., Fort Myers; 239-338-3500 or 800-237-6444; www.fortmyers-sanibel.com.

 Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce, 1159 Causeway Rd.; 239-472-1080; www.sanibel-captiva.org.

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