Wildlife refuge on island of Sanibel, Florida, introduces iNature Trail for smartphone users

The J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge has introduced a new interactive smartphone capability for visitors. Called iNature Trail, the program utilizes QR (Quick Response) codes that are located around the refuge, which can be scanned by your smartphone using free downloadable applications like Neoscan and QR Scan. Once scanned, the codes will bring up YouTube videos and other informative resources for an enhanced experience in nature. For example, scanning a particular code could bring up a video of the refuge manager welcoming guests to the area, while another might teach users how to plant a mangrove tree.

According to Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland, out of the more than 550 national wildlife refuges, J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is the first to put in place an interactive trail program like this one.

To get a better idea of how the app works, check out this video:

World’s Best Islands

Guess what? There actually are people who don’t like islands. I know, I know, it seems crazy to me, too, but these are probably the same people who dislike ice cream, tax refunds, and heaven. For the rest of us… we’ll always have islands.

T&L recently compiled a list of their favorite islands. As you’d expect, the list includes some real hum-dingers:

  • Santorini, Greece
  • Cocoa Island, Maldives
  • Mount Desert, Maine
  • Capri, Italy
  • Kauai, Hawaii
  • Vancouver Island
  • Anguilla
  • Bora Bora, French Polynesia
  • Virgin Gorda, BVI
  • Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil

Of course, for the “real people” out there, I thought I’d drop in 5 more islands that are beautiful, accessible, and not bank-breakers — at least for those people living in the US:

Sanibel and Captiva are a boomerang-shaped pair of islands off Florida’s southwest coast. Known for their plentiful shells, warm waters, excellent kayak opportunities, and laid-back atmosphere, the islands are an easy jaunt for most people in the southeastern US. Sanibel is nice — but in my opinion, Captiva has more spark, and more of a “feel.” With its tightly-clustered village center, Captiva is among the most romantic islands on the planet.

Tybee Island, Georgia, is big enough to have options, but small enough to not feel overdeveloped. With a rich history and plenty of options for sightseeing, Tybee also features kayak opportunities, dolphin excursions, and the chance to dangle your worm in the water. Don’t let the island’s “barrier island” status fool you: it’s wild but comfortable.

California’s Channel Islands — known as America’s Galapagos — are a haven for wildlife and a dream come true for campers and hikers alike. With numerous opportunities for diving, snorkeling, and whale watching in the waters among the islands — which Traveler refers to as a Paradise Found — there are alos plentiful routes for you to explore on sea kayaks.

The hundreds of islands that make up Washington’s San Juan Islands, feature beaches, mountains, cliffs, and forests. The area also boasts plenty of fog, which gives it a dreamy quality. Between the flightseeing, horseback riding, boating, shopping, hiking, and kayaking, I’m pretty sure you can keep busy.

Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Outdoor adventurers can hike, sail, paddle, fish, and swim around the island. History buffs can inspect the local castles (castles!), or tour the island’s numerous museums. A hodgepodge of cultures, explorers can sample both French and Celtic culture on the same trip.