Description - Turquoise waters, emerald islands and fish-bejeweled reefs make Biscayne National Park a paradise for wildlife watching, snorkeling, diving, boating, fishing, and other activities. Within the park boundaries are the longest stretch of mangrove forest left on Florida's east coast, the clear shallow waters of Biscayne Bay, over 40 of the northernmost Florida Keys, and a spectacular living coral reef. Superimposed on all of this natural beauty is evidence of 10,000 years of human history, including stories of native peoples, shipwrecks, pirates, pioneers, and Presidents.
Copyright: - US National Park Service
Biscayne National Park
- Biscayne National Park contains several unique areas. The shoreline of Biscayne Bay is lined with a deep green forest of mangroves. These trees, with their complex system of prop roots, help stabilize the shoreline and provide shelter for animals, birds, and marine life.
The bay itself contains lush seagrass beds that support the Florida spiny lobster with food and shelter. Biscayne Bay has been designated a sanctuary where the lobsters are protected year-round. Shrimp, fish, sea turtles, and manatees also utilize these productive underwater pastures.
On the eastern edge of Biscayne Bay are the northernmost Florida Keys. These islands are fringed with mangroves and contain tropical hardwood forests. The establishment of the park protected these islands from planned development, allowing them to remain a reminder of the area's natural state.
On the Atlantic side of the islands lie the most diverse and beautiful of the underwater communities is the coral reefs. The reefs support a kaleidoscope of life. Fish, plants, and other animals abound in all the colors of the rainbow.
The cultural resources protected within the park represent well over two thousand years of history and some might be as much as ten thousand years old. These resources are rich with archeological remains that document a crossroads of international maritime trade and exploration since the arrival of the first Europeans, and the history of the earliest inhabitants of the area. Cultural resources include archeological sites (many submerged), historic structures, National Historic Register listings and 16,000 museum objects.
The park is 180,000 acres, of which 95% is water.
Recreation - Recreational opportunities abound in Biscayne National Park. Locally, it is known as a wonderful place to boat, sail, fish, snorkel, dive, and camp. One area of the park, Convoy Point, is accessible by car. This site contains the Dante Fascell Visitor Center, a picnic area and the concessionaire who provides tours of the park. The visitor center offers a video orientation to the park, museum exhibits, book sales, information and assistance. There is also a boardwalk at Convoy Point that leads one mile to the end of the jetty.
The park consists of 180,000 acres 95 percent of which is water. To see the most of it, one must get in a boat. Visitors who have their own boats have almost unlimited access to the park's resources. (Boaters should use NOAA Nautical Chart 11451 for safe boating operations in park waters).
The park concessionaire who offers boat tours and snorkel and dive trips from Convoy Point provides access for visitors who do not have their own boats. Biscayne National Underwater Park, Inc. offers three-hour park tour boat trips and four-hour snorkel trips daily. The park tour trips are normally glass bottom boat tours to the living coral reefs. There may also be trips to undeveloped Elliott Key (the first of the Florida Keys) or Boca Chita Key. Dive trips are also offered for those with SCUBA certification. Canoe rentals for those wishing to explore the mangrove shoreline are also available.
Some hiking is available on the keys located within the park. At Boca Chita Key, there is a one-quarter mile loop nature trail. At Elliott Key, there is a three-quarter mile loop nature trail that takes visitors across the island through the hardwood hammock. A second trail, seven miles long, provides access to north and south ends of the island. Adams Key has a one-quarter mile loop nature trail. Adams Key is a day use area only.
Campgrounds are available on Elliott Key and Boca Chita Key. Elliott Key offers picnic tables and grills, restrooms, cold water showers and fresh water. Boca Chita Key offers picnic tables, grills and restrooms, but there is no fresh water. A group campsite is available on Elliott Key. Reservations are not accepted for individual campsites. Backcountry camping is not allowed in the park. There is no trash pickup on the islands. Please return all trash to the mainland for proper disposal.
Climate - Southern Florida lies within a subtropical climate. It is usually hot and humid in the summer with brief afternoon thundershowers. It is not unusual for temperatures to exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit with averages reaching above 83 degrees Fahrenheit (above 29 Celsius). Winters are mild and dry with temperatures averaging above 64 degrees Fahrenheit (above 18 Celsius). The average precipitation for the southeast area is more than 60 inches per year. The powerful rays of the sun make it a good idea to wear hats and sunglasses along with using a SPF-15 (or above) sunscreen when planning outdoor activities.
Biscayne National Park lies on the southern tip of the Florida peninsula on the Atlantic coast. The closest community to the park is Homestead, Florida.