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By: Tracy Ann Simmonds

Established in 1968, Biscayne National Park prides itself on preserving the pristine beauty of more than 172,000 acres of nature. It’s the largest marine park in the National Park Service, with 95 percent of the park underwater. You’ll need a boat to access the park’s campgrounds, where you can enjoy island camping on small keys surrounded by sparkling water.


There are two remote campgrounds in Biscayne National Park and they are only accessible by boat. Staying past 6 p.m. is considered an overnight stay. Camping fees must be paid in exact change only at the kiosk harbors of either campground. Park at Dante Fascell Visitor Center, the only portion of the park on the mainland. Here you can see natural history exhibits, watch park videos, visit the highly regarded contemporary art gallery and grab some camping tips at the information desk. 

Boca Chita Key

The most popular campground in the park is at Boca Chita Key, with a harbor entrance of four feet at low tide. This key’s campground features grassy campsites, picnic tables, grills and toilets. Keep in mind there are no sinks, showers or drinking water, and pets are not allowed. Boca Chita Key also provides unique opportunities for diving enthusiasts.

Elliott Key

Elliott Key is the largest island in Biscayne National Park. It was once a pineapple farm. There are restrooms with sinks, cold showers and limited drinking water resources available on the key. Enter the harbor and park at one of the 33 boat slips available, with a low tide of 2.5 feet. Visitors and campers can utilize the picnic tables and grills. Dogs on leashes are allowed. Stretch your legs on the “Spite Highway,” a trail through a hardwood tropical forest.

Guided Camping Tours

For those who want to be part of a group or don’t have access to their own boat, the Sails and Trails program is the perfect way to camp in Biscayne National Park. On this two-day paddling, sailing and camping excursion, participants experience a guided tour of the park that includes an overnight stay on Adams Key. Contact the Biscayne National Park Institute for schedule and registration details.

Nearby Activities 

Viewing Marine Life

What traveler can resist the invitation to dive into Biscayne National Park’s underwater world filled with kaleidoscopic coral reefs and vibrant schools of fish in warm waters? You can see this marine life firsthand at the Florida Reef, a few miles from Boca Chita Key. It’s the third largest coral reef in the world. While it is only accessible by boat, the trip is well worth it to see parrot fish, large grouper, colorful starfish and more.

Maritime Heritage Trail

Biscayne Bay has 10,000 years of human history seasoned with stories of pirate adventures and underwater wreckages. Explore the area's heritage – underwater – on the Maritime Heritage Trail. The trail has six underwater shipwreck ecosystems with mooring buoys to help guide your path. Guided tours with experience dive operators are available. Guides lead the way through some of the 44 documented shipwrecks from the 16th to 20th centuries in Biscayne National Park. 

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