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By: Chris Cavis

Boca Chita Key in Biscayne National Park

In a short 45-minute boat trip, you can cross from mainland Miami to Boca Chita Key for some island time. The key is known for its historic lighthouse and is a launch point for some of the best snorkeling in the area. Don’t forget to pack a cooler with snacks and refreshments as the marina and restrooms are the only amenities on this quaint key.

Swimming and Snorkeling

Boca Chita is a popular stop in Biscayne National Park. Visit during the week for a quiet experience, or hop over on the weekend to see the key bustling with boaters. The key includes a small beach and protected lagoon that is the perfect spot to soak up some rays and enjoy a refreshing swim. Located a few miles offshore is the Florida Reef, the third largest coral reef in the world and an amazing place to snorkel among colorful fish and coral. The reef is only accessible by boat as there is no beach or shore diving to access it. Often called a “rainforest of the sea,” this vast coral reef is the home of exotic marine life such as yellow-striped porkfish, blue neon gobies and colorful parrot fish.

Camping and Picnicking

Overnight camping is available for a minimal fee. Boca Chita Key has few amenities but does have picnic tables and paved paths that make a quick circuit of the island. Climb the 65-foot-tall lighthouse to enjoy sweeping views of the islands, bay and Miami skyline from the observation deck. To keep the key clean and minimize environmental impact, everything you bring to the key must leave with you, including garbage. There is no running water or electricity, and pets are not allowed.

For Expert Advice

Contact the Dante Fascell Visitor Center, or stop by to talk to an experienced park ranger.

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