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Biscayne National Park


Biscayne National Park, 95 percent of which lies underwater, is one of the top snorkeling, kayaking, and scuba diving areas in the United States. Divers and snorkelers flock to this idyllic stretch of sea to experience Biscayne Bay's extensive reef system. Above the water, you can explore the Florida park's small mainland mangrove shoreline and keys by boat.

Biscayne National Park, managed by the National Park Service, has a unique claim to fame: Most of its 181,500 acres (73,450 hectares) are underwater. That means much of it is only accessible by boat, and that it's highly recommended to experience it with snorkel or scuba gear. Beneath the surface, the park's underwater world explodes with multicolored life, from vibrant angelfish and parrotfish to swaying sea fans and labyrinths of living coral.

Reef cruises and glass-bottom boat tours typically depart from Convoy Point and pass through Caesar Creek to see the more than 50 shipwrecks within the park's boundaries. Mangrove Shore is a nice option for those on a tight schedule and no boat access—simply stroll around Convoy Point and enjoy a picnic. Of the park's 44 islands, only a few are open to visitors. Elliot Key has picnicking, camping, and hiking among mangrove forests; tiny Adams Key has picnicking; and Boca Chita Key has a lighthouse, picnicking, and camping.

  • The park has no entrance fee, and you do not need to book Biscayne National Park tickets to visit.

  • Boca Chita Key and Elliot Key are open year-round for boat-in camping on a first-come, first-served basis.

  • Most snorkel and scuba tours include the use of equipment, but you can bring your own if you like.

  • Nature lovers can combine a Biscayne National Park tour with visits to nearby John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and Everglades National Park.

The park is located in South Florida, at the northern edge of the Florida Keys. It is about 40 miles (64 kilometers) south of Miami International Airport via the Ronald Reagan Turnpike. For information, stop at the Dante Fascell Visitor Center, at the park's main entrance, which has maps, ranger programs, and a great film overview of the park.

Key Biscayne is open year-round, and the water portion of the park is always open. The best time to visit the park's islands is during Florida's dry season, December to March. For the best visibility in its shallow water, summer is best—but be prepared for the occasional afternoon thunderstorm and hungry mosquitoes during this time.

Tourists who visit Biscayne National Park's coral reefs and aquamarine waters will come in contact with more than 325 types of fish, shrimp, crabs, spiny lobsters, and even sea turtles. On land and in the mangrove forests, look for the rare peregrine falcon and bald eagle. Barnacles, fish, and other sea creatures also bunch around the trees' half-submerged roots.

Yes, Biscayne National Park is worth visiting. This Florida park near Miami attracts visitors interested in marine life and outdoor, water-based activities like kayaking. Plan to explore Biscayne National Park through snorkeling, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, or boat tours. Vibrant coral reefs are also a main attraction here.

Most visitors spend a day exploring Biscayne National Park in Florida. During a half-day or full-day visit, discover the natural beauty of this park near Miami by boat tour, kayaking through the mangroves, or snorkeling among coral reefs. Outdoor enthusiasts could quickly fill two or three days exploring this scenic park.

Don’t miss an introductory tour to Biscayne National Park by boat. This type of tour introduces the park, its marine life, and its activities. Then, choose between kayaking through the mangroves, diving among shipwrecks, and hiking along peaceful trails in this Florida park.

Yes, you can visit Biscayne National Park without a boat, but only a tiny portion of it. Nearly 95% of this park is water, so a boat, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard is necessary to explore widely. Boat tours will offer access to the best snorkel destinations, too.

Yes, snorkeling at Biscayne National Park is worth it. This Florida park near Miami is home to many marine life, from fish to manatees and turtles. Snorkeling enthusiasts can choose between destinations from coral reefs to shipwrecks. Biscayne National Park is a peaceful, scenic place to snorkel.

Since 95% of Biscayne National Park is water, the best way to explore is by boat. A boat tour will cover ground quickly and offer a comprehensive introduction to this Florida park. Other ways to explore include kayaking through the mangroves, snorkeling around coral reefs, and renting a stand-up paddleboard.


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