Six miles off the coast of Florida lay Biscayne National Park the largest marine park in the National Park System. Located about 50 miles north of Key Largo and comprised of 172,000 acres, 95% of which is covered by water, the park is an adventure you will not forget.
Biscayne offers a wide variety of activities for visitors, both on the mainland and in the water, as well as outdoor and indoor. The Dante Fascell Visitor Center houses a museum that focuses on the four main ecosystems of the park. There is local artwork displayed, the Touch Table for learning and immersing yourself in “hands-on” discovery, films and a chance for kids to earn the Junior Ranger Badge.
Outdoor activities are plentiful with kayaking, snorkeling, camping, scuba diving, wildlife watching, picnicking, fishing and much more. Experience mangroves, the beginning of the third largest coral reef in the world, Biscayne Bay and the northernmost island of the Florida Keys, by swimming, diving, glass bottom boat tours and various other modes of exploring.
150 different species of plants including several endangered species are found in the park. Animals are just as abundant ranging from birds, reptiles, mammals and insects to sea dwellers and corals. Endangered and threatened animals such as sea turtles, birds, whales, Florida Manatees, corals and more are housed here as well and interfering with these creatures or their surroundings, if sighted, are not allowed. Picture taking, documenting and letting park officials know of your sightings are strongly encouraged, however.
Convoy Point has the only park concessioner where arrangements are made for guided snorkeling tours, excursions to islands, glass bottom boat rides and kayak and canoe renting. This is also the only place to get food, drinks and souvenirs.
Elliot Key offers the park’s only hiking trail, called Spite Highway and is 6 miles long. There is a campground, picnic areas, barbeques, and restrooms, fishing, wading and swimming available on this key. No backcountry camping is allowed, there is no trash pickup or services and pets must be attended and leashed at all times. Boats may dock at any of the 36 slips and overnight fees are assessed between 6pm and 6am with an individual campsite included in the fee.
Boca Chita Key sports a 64 foot ornamental lighthouse and a cannon salvaged from one of the many shipwrecks found in the area. A campground with barbeques and picnic areas is also available but there is no freshwater or electricity. There are salt water toilets but no sinks or showers and a half mile trail. Pets are not allowed on this island or on any of the boats in the harbor. The only designated docking is at the cleated bulkhead, the same overnight docking fees apply as on Eliot Key and boats may raft no more than two deep. Also, any deep draft vessels requiring 3 ½ feet or more of water are cautioned to use discretion as low tide is only 4 feet.
Adams Key was once used by presidents and others as a retreat and now houses two park ranger families. It has picnic areas and toilets and a short trail that leads through the hardwood hammock. The scenery is breathtaking and the swift Caesar Creek is adjacent to the island.
Lodging, restaurants and shops are all located in neighboring communities. Excepting service animals, the only places pets are allowed in the park have been listed above. There are no bridges, ferries or RV sites available in the park. Visitors wishing to use their own boats should plan carefully as your expedition can quickly become dangerous and/or extremely costly if misinformed. The summers are typically warm but with high humidity and frequent afternoon thundershowers. Winters can be mild and dry but extremely windy and weather conditions are apt to change rapidly. It is always a good idea to be prepared for rain. Mosquitoes are prevalent all year round.