Anyone who has wondered where Tarpon Bay Road leads after the four-way intersection with Sanibel Captiva and Palm Ridge roads would be delighted to discover Tarpon Bay Explorers at the end. It’s truly a hidden gem.

“We get people all the time who tell us they have been coming to the island for years and never knew what was at the end of the road,” said Tarpon Bay Explorers General Manager, Part-Owner Wendy Schnapp.

Tarpon Bay Explorers is the company and concession to the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge that sits at the edge of back bay water and among the wildlife. It offers educational and recreational activities, tours, and a bright and fun gift shop.

“We always want to remind locals and visitors that we are here and it’s a great place to bring the grand-kids for an eco-excursion or to holiday shop,” said Schnapp.

A little-known fact about Tarpon Bay Explorers is 15 percent of everything – tours, rentals, merchandise – goes back to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the care and protection of wildlife refuges around the country. It is also only one of the few gift shops on the island where occasionally a frolicking manatee or pelican diving for food can be observed.

Tarpon Bay Explorers is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (rentals stop at 3 p.m.) seven days a week, except Christmas. The gift shop can be reached by calling 239-472-8900 or visit for more information.