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Biscayne National Park Guide

Biscayne National Park is a beautiful natural escape, rich with history and gorgeous views. Being less than an hour’s drive from Miami, this national park is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway. 

The park covers over 170,000 acres. Much of the park is water and protects barrier reefs. In fact, part of the world’s third longest coral reef tract is under park protection. 

This national park also has the east coast of Florida’s longest stretch of mangrove forest. 

You won’t want to miss the Maritime Heritage Trail, where you can do SCUBA diving or snorkeling and explore real shipwrecks.

There are several islands within the park. Elliott Key is the largest island. It was formed from fossilized coral reef and is part of the Florida Keys. This island has a National Park Service campground on it available for visitors. 

What else can you do during a visit to Biscayne National Park? Let’s look at everything you need to know to plan a trip to this park. 

About Biscayne National Park

When You Can Visit The Park

The park waters are open all year, 24 hours a day. They do not close on holidays, either. The park waters cover 95% of the official park. 

The park has two facilities with opening hours. They tend to have different hours on holidays, so you will want to check with the park before your visit. 

The Dante Fascell Visitor Center is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily. 

The Convoy Point area is open from 7 am to 5:30 pm daily. 

The Entrance Fee

There is no entrance fee for Biscayne National Park! In fact, while the campground has fees for overnight use, you can use the campsites during the day without paying a fee. 

What to Know Before Your Visit To the Park

Are you ready to plan your trip? Here’s a look at where to stay and what the weather is like throughout the year before you plan your visit. 

What to Expect From the Weather

You can expect it to be sunny when you visit Biscayne National Park. The park is in a subtropical climate, which means most days are sunny all year round. 

The winters tend to have mild and dry weather. There will be some days with wind and rain. In January, you can expect the temperature to be in the mid to high 70s Fahrenheit. 

Hurricane season for the park happens in the summer and fall months. In August, you can expect it to be humid and in the low 90 degrees, which can feel hotter because of the humidity. 

Camping in the Park

Elliott Key and Boca Chita Key each have campgrounds where you can stay overnight. Day visits are free. The fee for overnight stays is $25. The campground is first come, first serve. There is no reservation system.

A boat is required to access these islands. The docking space is also available first come, first served. 

The fees for camping and docking are waived during the low season, May 1st to September 30th. 

Where Else You Can Stay

If you aren’t interested in camping during your visit, the park is less than an hour’s drive from Miami (in good traffic). You can also find hotel and Airbnb options in nearby Florida City or Homestead. 

How to Get to Biscayne National Park

South Florida can have a lot of traffic, so plan for that when considering your travel times. 

While you could reach the park from Miami in under an hour with no traffic, the journey tends to take approximately one hour to one and a half hours. It can be longer than this on weekends or holidays. It is usually best to take The Florida Turnpike instead of Highway 1, which is often very slow. 

The town of Homestead is approximately twenty minutes drive away, and Fort Lauderdale is one and a half to two hours journey. 

What to Bring to the Park

  • Mosquito repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • A hat for sun protection
  • Lightweight clothing to protect from the mosquitos and sun
  • Sunglasses
  • Refillable water bottle
  • A waterproof bag to store your phone and/or other electronics
  • Snorkeling gear
  • A fresh change of clothes

What To Do While Visiting Biscayne National Park

There is a wide variety of activities you can decide to do while visiting this national park. Many of them require some planning, so you’ll want to think ahead. 

One exciting option is to plan a trip to Boca Chica Key where you can visit the lighthouse. This lighthouse was built in the 1930s. You’ll need a boat or to book a tour to make this possible.

There are many options for official guided tours while visiting the island. Some options for things you can do when joining a tour include:

  • Snorkeling
  • Guided fishing trips
  • Sailing
  • Seaplane tours
  • Kiteboarding
  • SCUBA diving

You don’t have to join a guided tour to have an exciting outdoor adventure in this park. Some of the things you can plan to do on your own include:

  • Bird Watching — visit the Biscayne Birding Trail
  • Wildlife watching — there are turtles, pelicans, and even dolphins in the bay
  • Snorkeling
  • Diving
  • Swimming
  • Boating
  • Fishing
  • Kayaking
  • Canoeing

If you plan a snorkeling or diving trip, you’ll want to check out the Maritime Heritage Trail, where some of the park’s best shipwrecks are available for exploring. 

Don’t miss the museum at Convoy Point, where you can learn about the local ecosystems and better understand the diverse nature in this park.

Plan Your Visit to Biscayne National Park

This national park is a convenient drive from Miami and Fort Lauderdale, making it an easy place to experience some of Florida’s standout nature experiences. 

With so many options, the most difficult part of planning a trip to Biscayne National Park is choosing what activities are a priority for your visit.

While the park doesn’t offer reservations, you’ll want to plan your trip ahead of time so you know what activities you might want to take part in.

It’s a beautiful place to lay down a beach towel and watch the waves, plan a camping adventure, or join in guided tours.

Think ahead for what activities sound most fun to you, plan to see beautiful views, and relax in all that south Florida has to offer.

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