Biscayne National Park

What to See and Do and Where to Stay When Visiting
Biscayne National Park:

Get critical information, insider tips, and pictures, as well as ideas for where to stay when visiting this national park located in southern Florida, east of Homestead.

Biscayne National Park Details and Background

  • Address: 9700 SW 328 Street, Homestead, FL 33033
  • Phone: 305-230-7275
  • Date established as a national park: June 28, 1980
  • Size: 172,924 acres
  • Visit the Official Park Service Biscayne National Park and Preserve site for park (which includes information such as entrance fees).

    10 interesting facts about Biscayne National Park

    1. Only 5 percent of the park consists of land -- 40 small barrier coral-reef islands and a mangrove shoreline. [NG]
    2. The park is the longest undeveloped shore on Florida's east coast. [NG]
    3. The park's most extensive lifeform is coral. [NG]
    4. The park reprieved a living system condemned to die under the pressure of progress.[NG]
    5. Four distinct ecosystems (a narrow fringe of mangrove forest along the mainland; the northernmost islands of the Florida Keys; and the beginning of the third-largest coral reef in the world) melt into one another creating rich edge communities, or "ecotones." These edges support an incredible array of wildlife, including hundreds of species of colorful fish, plants found nowhere else in the United States, and visitor favorites like pelicans, manatees and turtles.[NPS]
    6. The water is so shallow in much of the park that visitors can see brilliantly colored tropical fish and coral just by snorkeling.[AAA]
    7. Biscayne National Park
    8. The park is home to many threatened and endangered species including the West Indian manatee, eastern indigo snake, piping plover, American crocodile, peregrine falcon, Schaus' swallowtail butterfly, least tern, and 5 species of sea turtle.[NPS]
    9. Several small Keys in Biscayne National Park and northern Key Largo are the only places the Schaus' swallowtail, a large, colorful butterfly, can be found.[NPS]
    10. Tunicates, or sea squirts, live on the roots of the red mangrove tree. These simple animals survive by filtering plankton out of seawater, and hold promise as the source of potent drugs used to fight tumors. Watch for them when snorkeling along Biscayne National Park's mangrove-fringed shoreline.[NPS]
    11. Biscayne National Park's Dante Fascell Visitor Center's architecture is based on the old "House of Refuge" on Miami Beach, a place for shipwreck survivors to take shelter.[NPS]

    10 tips for getting the most out of a visit to Biscayne National Park

    1. Best time to go is mid-December to mid-April, the dry season in subtropical Florida. Mosquitos and thunderstorms are issues in the summer, and hurricanes are possible June to November.[NG]
    2. Summers are generally warm, with high humidity and frequent afternoon thunderstorms. Winters are typically mild and dry, but windy. Weather conditions can change rapidly, so be prepared with rainwear at any time of year.[NPS]
    3. Unlike many units of the National Park system that can be fully experienced in a car or on foot, the park is best experienced on a boat and will require at least half a day. The park's concessioner offers a variety of boat trips to the park's reefs and islands.[NPS]
    4. The Convoy Point area offers a variety of land-based and indoor opportunities to get to know the park (especially for those short on time to visit or who don't intend to see the park by boat).[NPS]
    5. Convoy Point (home of Biscayne National Park's Dante Fascell Visitor Center) is also considered one of South Florida's best windsurfing locations.[NPS]
    6. Biscayne National Park Keys
    7. Biscayne National Park offers a FREE educational fishing clinic! Learn more about angling on Biscayne's aquamarine waters, refresh your fish ID skills, get updates on regulations and why they're important, and learn about choosing and maintaining tackle and gear from long-time local fishing guides.[NPS]
    8. Activities available at the park include glass bottom boat trips, island excursions, snorkeling adventures, canoe trips, Ranger talks, Family Fun Fest, underwater videos, displays, and art exhibits.[NPS]
    9. Biscayne National Park's shallow mangrove shoreline provides the ideal place to introduce kids to canoeing. Canoes are available for hourly rentals from the park's concessioner.[NPS]
    10. The park's concessioner is Biscayne National Underwater Park, Inc., which offers food, drink and gift sales, as well as these activities: glass bottom boat, ranger-led island trips, snorkel Biscayne Bay, snorkel the outer open water coral reefs, scuba, kayaks, canoes, and two and four place paddle boats.[NPS]
    11. Planning is critical for a trip to the park. The National Park Service's park Website notes: "While there is a lot to be said for carefree, unplanned exploration in some National Parks, Biscayne National Park is different. The fact that most of the park is covered by water means that many visitors will have transportation and logistical issues to deal with. Visitors with their own boats can easily get themselves into costly and dangerous situations without adequate planning."[NPS]

    Where to stay when visiting Biscayne National Park


    The two campgrounds in the park are accessible by boat only. From November to May, visitors may make arrangements with the park's concessioner, Biscayne National Underwater Park, Inc., for transportation to the Elliott Key campground; there is a fee for this service.[NPS]

    RV Parks

    There are no RV parks near Biscayne National Park.

    Biscayne National Park  snorkling Hotels

    There are no hotels, motels, lodges or cabins inside Biscayne National Park. The nearest lodging to the park's Dante Fascell Visitor Center is located in Homestead or Florida City.[NPS]

    While you're visiting Biscayne National Park

    While you're in the area, you might want to also explore the Everglades National Park to the west, as well as the Big Cypress National Preserve to the northwest.

    Guide to sources:
    NG = National Geographic Guide to the National Parks of the United States
    NPF = National Park Foundation's The Official Guide to America's National Parks
    KB = The National Parks: America's Best Idea by Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns
    AAA = AAA Guide to the National Parks
    NPS = National Park Service Website

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