Say the word “park” and you immediately think of trees. But just like Miami, neighboring Biscayne National Park is full of surprises – the first being that it’s 95% under water. Stretching over 270 square miles southeast of Miami to the Florida Keys, the largest marine sanctuary in the National Park Service is home to dozens of threatened or endangered species including manatees, crocodiles and sea turtles. It comprises several islands and is bordered by thriving mangrove forests. It also includes the Florida Reef, the only living coral barrier reef in the United States and one of the largest in the world.

Fittingly, the best way to explore this marine wonderland is by boat. The Dante Fascell Visitor Center (under an hour’s drive from Downtown Miami at Convoy Point, in Homestead) is your land-based launchpad. From here, you can plan your journey by talking to park rangers and watching audio-visual presentations about the ecosystems that make Biscayne National Park so fascinating. After that, your toughest decision will be which adventure to choose.

Among the guided tours offered by the Biscayne National Park Institute is a half-day cruise to the park’s most-visited island, Boca Chita Key, where a wealthy Miami Beach-based family built their holiday home in the 1930s. Of the surviving structures, the 65-foot-tall ornamental lighthouse is the star attraction, offering sweeping sea and city views from its upper deck. Scuba diving or snorkeling through shipwrecks along the Maritime Heritage Trail is another popular pursuit. Or you can choose to paddleboard through the waters of Jones Lagoon, which teem with juvenile sharks, stingrays and turtles even though they’re only inches deep. The park’s largest island is Elliott Key, which was home to pineapple plantations in the late 19th century and a CIA training ground in the 1960s. Now it offers visitors fishing opportunities, a walking trail and a campground for overnights under the stars, embraced by the warm waters, coral islands and thriving reefs that define this unique national park.

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Points of Interest

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Adams Key

Mid-Beach
Now a day-use area with a wooded trail, picnic pavilion and restrooms, this key on the north side of Caesar Creek was once home to the famed Cocolobo Club, a retreat for several U.S. presidents.

Jones Family Historic District and Lagoon

Mid-Beach
The former home and farm of African-American millionaire Israel Lafayette Jones sit on this land, which his descendants later sold to the National Park Service to help create the park today.

Elliot Key

Mid-Beach
Considered the northernmost of the true Florida Keys (and the largest north of Key Largo) this is a popular spot for camping, hiking, picnicking, swimming and wildlife watching inside the park.

Boca Chita Key

Mid-Beach
The most visited and accessible of the Biscayne Keys is most notable for its ornamental 65-foot lighthouse, but it’s also a popular spot for camping, picnicking and soaking up 360 views of the water.

Ornamental Lighthouse

Mid-Beach
Built with coral rock, this 65-foot structure served as an official navigational beacon for less than a day. But its towering sight still guides visitors to the beauty and wonders of Boca Chita Key.

Elliot Key Campground

Mid-Beach
One of two campgrounds in the park, this one features stunning sunset views and two hiking trails – a six-mile stretch that runs the length of the island and another one-mile loop around the harbor.

Boca Chita Key Campground

Mid-Beach
Accessible only by boat, this campground features breathtaking waterfront views, grassy areas, picnic tables, grills and toilets, but no showers, sinks or drinking water.

Dante Fascell Visitor Center, Gallery & Museum

Mid-Beach
More than just a visitor center, this stop features a gallery of art inspired by Biscayne National Park’s incomparable beauty. You’ll also find a picnic area, a short trail and a kayak/canoe launch.

Maritime Heritage Trail

Mid-Beach
See the remains of six shipwrecks along this mapped snorkeling trail with mooring buoys to guide you along the way. Sunken vessels amid colorful reefs provide a unique way to explore area history.

Stiltsville

Mid-Beach
Built in the 1930s, these stilt houses sit on wood or concrete pilings perched some 10 feet above the bay’s shallow waters and seagrass beds. Public access is limited, but boat tours are available.

Biscayne National Park

Perfect Sunsets

The colors of the sky and water meld at sunset in beautiful Biscayne National Park.

Lighting the Way

The historic lighthouse at Boca Chita Key has been an area landmark since the 1930s.

Waterfront Camping

Biscayne National Park offers beautiful, waterfront tenting sites at Boca Chita Key.

Historic Adams Key

Once a retreat for Carl Fisher and several presidents, today, the island is open for visitors to explore during daylight hours.

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Spotlight: Biscayne National Park

Explore Biscayne National Park

Check out this overview on all the amazing things you can see and do in Biscayne National Park.

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Explore Biscayne National Park

Plan Your Trip

Learn how to get to Biscayne National Park, find out when to visit, and read important safety tips.

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Plan Your Trip

Wildlife Watching

Learn about the fascinating creatures, such as manatees, fox squirrels, American alligators and Florida panthers, that call the preserve home.

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Wildlife Watching

Dante Fascell Visitor Center

Stop by the visitor center to talk with experienced park rangers who can answer your questions, provide detailed maps and more.

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Dante Fascell Visitor Center

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