Matlacha Pass National Wildlife Refuge

The islands of this refuge, within the Matlacha Pass estuary eight miles northwest of Fort Myers, support a diverse array of wildlife.

Most of these islands are tidal wetlands with low sand and shell ridges. The vegetation is almost exclusively red mangrove, but on some islands the interior wetlands are dominated by black mangroves, often mixed with white mangroves and buttonwood.

The islands contain two basic vegetative zones- upland sand ridges and mangroves. Several islands are used as roosting and nesting sites by a variety of wading and water birds.

The beaches and shores provide feeding and nesting areas for migratory ducks, shorebirds, gulls and terns. Osprey can be seen nesting and feeding in the Matlacha Pass area.

Several endangered and threatened species, including bald eagles, wood storks, sea turtles and manatees, thrive in the refuge habitats.

The islands are accessible only by boat and access is difficult in the mangrove areas. Visitors are restricted to fishing and wildlife observation.

During most of the year, mosquito infestation is severe.

The public is not permitted on the islands during the nesting season.
  • 1 Wildlife Drive
  • Sanibel , FL 33957
  • Florida
  • Open Year-Round
  • No Entry Fee Charged.
  • (800) 496-9077
  • (239) 472-1100

Touring & Services
  • Visitor Center
  • Children's Activities
  • Guided Tours
  • Scenic Drives
  • Picnicking
  • Off Road Vehicles
  • Lodging Nearby
  • Restaurants Nearby
Winter Sports
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Snowboarding
  • Snowshoeing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Ice Skating
  • Winter Camping
  • Mountain Biking
  • Bike Touring
  • Saltwater Fishing
  • Freshwater Fishing
  • Big Game
  • Upland
  • Waterfowl
Nature & History
  • Bird-Watching
  • Nature Viewing
  • Historic Sites
Camping & Hiking
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Backpacking
  • Rock Climbing
  • Horse Trails
  • Wheelchair Trails
Paddling & Watersports
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Rafting
  • Beaches
  • Boat Launch