Biscayne National Park is mostly a bay and coral reef, and unless you have a boat, it isn’t easy to explore, since most of the park is underwater. We chose to visit mainly because it is a National Park, and it was only 20 minutes from where we are staying in Florida City. There is one trail on mainland Florida which goes along the breakwater lined with mangrove trees and people fish there. There’s also a boat trip (about $35 per person) that goes 7-8 miles through Biscayne Bay to Boca Chita Key, and back.
We took the boat ride, and it was nice. There was a guide on board that talked to us about the park and pointed out various plant and bird species. We saw a dolphin, but no manatees.
After about 45 minutes on the boat we approached the keys, and took the boat into the “keyhole”, which is a man-made feature. It was probably meant to be a marina, back when these keys were being considered for commercial development. It was completely hidden in the mangrove forest until we were right in it!
The boat docked at Boca Chita Key. There were a bunch of fancy boats docked there, and a decorative lighthouse. We decided to take the walking path into the trees. The boat captain asked if we had bug spray on, which we did. We made it less than 5 minutes into the path before we were swarmed with mosquitos. We turned around and ran out of there! I think I’m more delicious than Brian, because I already have about a dozen mosquito bites and he has none! After that we checked out the small beach, which was covered in coral shells.
We had a good time at Biscayne, but it didn’t really feel like a National Park. It felt more like a wildlife preserve. There wasn’t as much to do as the other National Parks we’ve visited. I think there is some canoeing/kayaking and possibly some snorkel trips, but they aren’t run through the park and what we found privately was pretty expensive.
When we asked about snorkeling at the visitor center, the ranger recommended John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. It is south of the national park (on Key Largo), but shares the same coral reef. It’s the oldest undersea park, and they offer glass-bottom boat tours, snorkeling tours, scuba tours, and canoe/kayak rental. We are hoping to do some snorkeling here, but the winds have been so bad that they have canceled trips all week. It was a good reminder that anything we want to do that is reliant on the weather should be booked for early in the trip. We are hoping the winds will die down and we can go snorkeling!
Day 105 | Mile 9,566