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view from the top of the lighthouse
Photo Credit: guyonthego

Biscayne National Park

9700 SW 328 Street Homestead, Florida 33033
Visitor center is generally open 9:00am-5:00pm. Park is open 24 hours.
305-230-7275 Half day
December 2011 All year
$10-29 Homestead Florida
Website Nature National Parks
First review
Biscayne National Park is a semi tropical park in southeast Florida near Miami. While the park boundaries incorporate 172,971 acres, most of this represents Biscayne Bay, a relatively shallow saltwater area. About 9,000 acres of the park area is land, including a thin strip of mangrove forests on the coast and several keys located 5-7 miles offshore. At the visitor center there is a museum and 1/4 mile walking path. Several of the keys have beaches, longer trails and campgrounds. The main park recreational activities are boating, fishing, swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving. Divers can visit shripwrecks on an offshore Maritime Heritage Trail.

Early settlers on the keys in the 1800s mainly grew limes and pineapples. Wealthy citizens from Miami and points north later began taking boat trips here in the 1920s, and a few entertainment clubs were built. In the 1950s and 1960s residential developers began advocating for a causeway out to Elliot Key, while industrial developers sought to build an industrial seaport on the coast. Conservationists sought protection and partially succeeded in 1968 with the establishment of a national monument. It was expanded and upgraded into a park in 1980.

This visit took place in 2011. As of June 2014, there is no public boat transportation. The park is looking for a new boat concessionaire, but it’s not clear when it will happen. So, unless you have private transportation, a current visit will be limited to the main visitor center area. The small museum had reasonably informative displays about the natural history of the park. Also, there are 8 films on different topics. A park overview film and one on Hurricane Andrew were both good. The boat trip to Boca Chita included snorkelers and people just going to the island. On the way over, a park ranger provided commentary about the park, nearby areas and seabirds. Views of the coast were somewhat marred by a nuclear power plant and landfill. Boca Chita has an ornamental lighthouse, a short walking path, a beach, and camping area. The path was level, easy and unobstructed. At the beach the water looked clean and clear. It also was warm enough to swim in winter, but the snorkelers later indicated there was little to see. Although the overall visit here was pleasant, it makes little sense to come for a daytrip until boat tours are back on the agenda. Winter is a good time of year to visit since the temperatures are more pleasant, and there are fewer mosquitoes and more manatees.
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