A Day Trip to Biscayne National Park, Florida: Where 95% is Water

Biscayne National Park | Introduction

Biscayne National Park is a national park located in South Florida, very close to Miami. The distinctive feature of this park is that 95% of it is underwater, making it a national park predominantly comprised of aquatic areas. It boasts over 170,000 acres of vast ocean and precious coral reefs. The park was established to protect the marine ecosystem of Biscayne Bay, making it a paradise for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts, as well as suitable for water activities such as boating and fishing.

The best time to visit Biscayne National Park is from November to April every year, when the weather is cooler for outdoor activities.

Biscayne National Park | Accommodations & Transportation

Although Biscayne National Park may not be as famous as nearby Everglades National Park or Dry Tortugas National Park, it is actually also not far from Miami. The most convenient way to get to Biscayne National Park is to drive from Miami, heading south for about an hour.

Find a stay in Miami

During the peak season from November to April on weekends, you might consider staying in Homestead. The Homestead National Park Trolley departs from downtown Homestead, heading to the Dante Fascell Visitor Center and Homestead Bayfront Marina.

Find a stay in Homestead?

Biscayne National Park | Things to see and do

Most of the attractions in Biscayne National Park are underwater or on islands far from shore, leaving not much of interest on land. There are only two ways to get up close to the park: boating and diving. The best method, of course, is to dive underwater. A simpler option is to join a boat tour, which allows you to enjoy the sea while heading to small islands like Boca Chita Key to see the lighthouse or visit Elliott Key. However, tours might occasionally be canceled due to the number of participants or weather conditions.

Biscayne National Park Boat Tour

If you have the ability to dive, you can snorkel or scuba dive in the bay, and it's also possible to bring your own swimsuit and gear without joining a tour. If possible, it's best to prepare a diving certification in advance, as the waters here are a paradise for scuba divers.

Day-trippers can also consider other tour options such as kayaking and canoeing. Paddling in the tranquil waters of Jones Lagoon offers views of coastal mangroves and a rich avian ecosystem.

Dante Fascell Visitor Center

Almost all tours start from the Dante Fascell Visitor Center, which is the only visitor center in Biscayne National Park. This visitor center is actually located in Homestead, and it is the only land area within the national park that can be directly accessed by car. Inside the visitor center, there are exhibits focused on the ecology and history of the park.

Experience | Kayaking Tour

We participated in a kayaking program this time. There are two places within Biscayne National Park that are suitable for kayaking. Jones Lagoon has relatively shallow water where you can see many jellyfish, fish, and other marine life, as well as waterfowl. The other place we visited this time is Hurricane Creek. Our program was led by a group of kayaking enthusiasts who volunteered their time, and they kindly provided the boats for free. After a brief explanation of how to operate the kayaks, we got into the water. The bay was calm, and the water was very clear, allowing us to see crabs and tropical fish with the naked eye.

Another highlight of the tour was the coastal mangroves. The route we took quickly led us into narrow waterways among the mangroves, allowing for close observation. Mangroves are resilient plants with roots that branch deep underwater to anchor themselves. Their roots also help stabilize the shoreline's sediment, playing a role in protecting the bay's soil and water.

Further reading

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