Biscayne National Park: A Treasure Trove of Marine Wonders

Biscayne National Park: A Treasure Trove of Marine Wonders

Discover Biscayne National Park

Nestled within the shimmering turquoise waters of southern Florida lies a hidden gem of unparalleled beauty and biodiversity: Biscayne National Park. Spanning over 170,000 acres of marine and coastal ecosystems, this stunning park is a testament to the vibrant splendor of the underwater world. From vibrant coral reefs teeming with colorful fish to mangrove forests alive with birdlife, Biscayne offers visitors a glimpse into a marine wonderland unlike any other.

Established in 1980, Biscayne National Park protects a unique mosaic of habitats, including coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangrove forests, and shallow bay waters. Its diverse array of ecosystems provides a vital refuge for an astonishing variety of marine life, making it a haven for snorkelers, divers, boaters, and nature enthusiasts alike.

One of the park’s most iconic features is its extensive coral reef system, which stretches for miles along the shallow waters of Biscayne Bay. These vibrant reefs are home to a dazzling array of marine species, including colorful fish, crustaceans, sea turtles, and delicate coral formations. Snorkelers and divers can explore this underwater paradise, encountering a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes beneath the surface.

In addition to its spectacular reefs, Biscayne National Park is renowned for its mangrove forests, which fringe the park’s coastline and provide essential habitat for birds, fish, and other wildlife. Visitors can paddle through winding mangrove channels, spotting herons, egrets, and ospreys amid the tangled roots and branches.


Top 3 Facts About Biscayne National Park


Marine Biodiversity

Biscayne National Park is home to 95% of the northern hemisphere’s living coral reef formations, making it one of the most extensive coral reef systems in the United States.


Underwater Sites

The park protects over 40 historic shipwrecks, including those dating back to the 16th century. These wrecks offer insights into centuries of maritime history and provide unique opportunities for underwater exploration and archaeology.


Mangrove Coverage

Biscayne National Park contains approximately 72,000 acres of mangrove forests, making it the largest marine park with mangrove coverage on the east coast of the United States. These mangroves serve as crucial habitat for a variety of marine and bird species.

Camping and transportation in Biscayne National Park

info_iconBackcountry camping permits required for wilderness camping opportunities.

How to Get to Biscayne National Park

Getting to Biscayne National Park typically involves traveling by car or boat, as the park is primarily composed of water and a series of islands. Here are some common ways to reach Biscayne National Park:

  1. By Car: While Biscayne National Park itself is primarily water-based, visitors can access the park’s mainland visitor center, Dante Fascell Visitor Center, by car. The visitor center is located in Homestead, Florida, approximately 10 miles east of the entrance to Everglades National Park. From Miami, take Florida’s Turnpike South to Exit 6, then follow signs to the park.
  2. By Boat: The majority of Biscayne National Park is comprised of Biscayne Bay and its surrounding islands and reefs. Visitors with their own boats or who have access to boat rentals can explore the park’s waters directly. There are marinas and boat ramps in the nearby communities of Homestead and Key Largo where visitors can launch their boats.
  3. Guided Tours: Several companies offer guided tours to Biscayne National Park, departing from various locations in Miami, Homestead, and Key Largo. These tours may include sightseeing cruises, snorkeling excursions, and guided fishing trips, providing visitors with opportunities to explore the park’s diverse marine environment.

Places to Stay Near Biscayne National Park

While there are no lodging options within Biscayne National Park itself, there are several accommodations available in nearby towns and cities. Here are some places to stay near Biscayne National Park:

  1. Homestead, Florida: Homestead is the closest city to Biscayne National Park and offers a range of lodging options, including hotels, motels, and vacation rentals. It’s a convenient base for exploring the park and the surrounding area.
  2. Florida City, Florida: Located just north of Homestead, Florida City is another option for lodging near Biscayne National Park. Visitors will find a variety of hotels, motels, and budget-friendly accommodations in this area.
  3. Key Largo, Florida: Key Largo is approximately 30 miles south of Biscayne National Park and offers a wider range of lodging options, including waterfront resorts, beachfront hotels, and vacation rentals. It’s a popular destination for diving, snorkeling, and other water-based activities.
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Best Time to Go to Biscayne National Park



Summer is the hottest and wettest time of year in Biscayne National Park. Temperatures can soar into the 90s Fahrenheit (30s°C), and afternoon thunderstorms are common. Despite the heat and rain, summer offers excellent opportunities for boating, fishing, and wildlife viewing. Just be prepared for the possibility of sudden storms and high humidity.



Winter is considered one of the best times to visit Biscayne National Park. The weather is typically mild and dry, with temperatures ranging from the 60s to 70s Fahrenheit (15-25°C). This makes it ideal for boating, snorkeling, and exploring the park’s waters. Winter also tends to have fewer crowds compared to other seasons, providing a more tranquil experience.



Spring is another popular time to visit Biscayne National Park. Temperatures start to warm up, ranging from the 70s to 80s Fahrenheit (20-30°C), and the park comes alive with blooming flowers and wildlife activity. Spring is an excellent time for snorkeling and diving, as the water temperatures begin to rise, and visibility improves. However, spring break can bring increased visitation, so plan accordingly.

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Must-See Attractions

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Coral Reefs

Biscayne National Park protects the third-largest coral reef system in the world, offering incredible opportunities for snorkeling, diving, and underwater exploration. Swim among colorful coral formations, tropical fish, and other marine life in the park’s crystal-clear waters.

Elliott Key

Visit Elliott Key, the largest island in Biscayne National Park and a popular destination for boating, picnicking, and swimming. Explore scenic trails, relax on pristine beaches, and learn about the island’s rich cultural heritage at the visitor center.

Jones Lagoon

Discover the unique ecosystem of Jones Lagoon, a shallow, brackish water area located within the park. Paddle or kayak through the lagoon’s calm waters, observing mangrove-lined shores and diverse birdlife along the way.

Helpful Tips: Making the Most of Your Adventure to Biscayne National Park

Plan Ahead

Plan Ahead

Before your visit, research the park’s attractions, activities, and amenities. Consider what you’d like to do and see, and plan your itinerary accordingly. Check the park’s website for current information on facilities, guided tours, and regulations.

Pack Appropriately

Pack Appropriately

Depending on the activities you plan to pursue, make sure to bring appropriate gear. For snorkeling or diving, bring your own equipment or rent it from nearby outfitters. If you’re boating or kayaking, ensure you have life jackets, paddles, and safety equipment.

Respect Wildlife

Respect Wildlife

Biscayne National Park is home to a variety of marine and bird species. Respect wildlife by observing from a distance and refraining from feeding or approaching animals. Do not disturb nesting birds or marine life, and follow park regulations regarding wildlife viewing.

Stay Informed

Stay Informed

Be aware of the weather forecast before your visit, especially if you plan to spend time on the water. Summer months can bring afternoon thunderstorms, so plan your activities accordingly. Dress in layers and bring sun protection, including sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Biscayne National Park

Biscayne National Park is known for its diverse marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, mangrove forests, and shallow bay waters. It protects one of the largest coral reef systems in the world and offers opportunities for snorkeling, diving, boating, and wildlife viewing.

Yes, there are entrance fees to visit Biscayne National Park. The fees vary depending on the type of vehicle and length of stay. Annual passes and other park passes are also available for purchase.

Yes, visitors can bring their own boats to Biscayne National Park. There are marinas and boat ramps in nearby communities where visitors can launch their boats. Alternatively, guided boat tours and rentals are available for those without their own vessels.

Biscayne National Park offers a variety of activities, including snorkeling, diving, boating, fishing, kayaking, birdwatching, and picnicking. Guided tours and educational programs are also available for visitors to learn about the park’s natural and cultural history.

Yes, Biscayne National Park is home to a variety of wildlife, including fish, birds, marine mammals, and reptiles. Visitors may encounter dolphins, sea turtles, manatees, and numerous species of birds while exploring the park’s waters and islands.

Pets are allowed in certain areas of Biscayne National Park, including designated picnic areas and campgrounds. However, they must be kept on a leash at all times and are not permitted on trails or in the water. Be sure to check the park’s pet policy before bringing your pet.

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