Biscayne National Park

Biscayne National Park

Activities & Programs

Fishing is exceptional at Biscayne all year. In the bay, snapper, grouper and sea trout are plentiful. On the ocean side of the keys, you'll find hogfish and tuna. A fishing license is required and Florida's regulations on size, number, season and method of take must be followed. Copies of regulations are available at the visitor center, marinas and bait shops. Senior citizens can get discounts on out-of-state licenses. Stone crabs may be caught in season while blue crabs may be taken all year. Lobster may be taken only outside the Biscayne Bay-Card Sound lobster sanctuary during the Florida lobster season.

Boating is the best way to appreciate the beauty of Biscayne because most of the park is accessible only by boat. Protective islands make the park especially good for small craft and the shallow water is clean and clear. Boaters should use NOAA Nautical Chart #11451 and pay close attention to channel markers. (Charts are for sale in gift shops, stores and visitor centers.) Stay at least 300 feet from a boat flying a diver's flag and take every precaution to avoid hitting manatees (an endangered species) and sea turtles (some of which are endangered). 

Boat launches are available at Homestead Bayfront Park, Black Point Marina and other nearby marinas. No boat launches are available at Convoy Point. The park maintains a 66-slip harbor at Elliott Key, where boaters may spend the day or night. Boaters can also tie up at Boca Chita Key's harbor. Docking is on a first-come, first-served basis and there is a $15 per night fee. Anchorage areas may be found off of Elliott and Sands keys.

Boat tours are available to the parks coral reefs and islands. Three-hour trips from Convoy Point (10 a.m.), as well as scuba diving trips (weekend mornings) and snorkeling excursions (1:30 p.m.), are offered by Biscayne National Underwater Park, Inc. Reservations are required. You can also rent canoes or kayaks if you wish to tour Biscayne's shoreline on your own. Contact Biscayne National Underwater Park, Inc. at 9710 Southwest 328th Street, Homestead, FL 33033-5634, or call (305) 230-1100 for more information. Boat rental companies are also located in the Miami area.

Only five percent of Biscayne consists of land and while limited, there are walking and hiking trails. Access to the islands is by boat only.

A self-guiding trail starting at Elliott Key harbor takes you through a tropical hardwood hammock of rare vines, flowers and trees. A self-guiding loop-trail starts at Elliott Key Harbor. The trail takes you through a tropical hardwood hammock of rare vines, flowers and trees. For a longer hike, take the old road that runs the length of the seven-mile island.

Convoy Point offers a short boardwalk out to the jetty where you can observe birds, boats and an occasional manatee or dolphin. All other trails are on islands, and access is by boat only. Both Adams and Boca Chita Keys offer short nature trails.

Swimming is popular throughout the park, but beaches are rare, and when they do occur, tend to be small and rocky. Homestead Bayfront Park, which is adjacent to Biscayne National Park's Convoy Point, has a man-made swimming lagoon popular with locals.

Snorkeling and scuba diving are superb in the bay or along the coral reefs offshore. The clear, warm water is home to more than 500 species of colorful tropical fish and many types of coral. 

Excellent areas for bay snorkeling are south of Billy's Point and east of Long Arsenicker Key. Try Elkhorn Reef (good for beginners) and the wreck of the Mandalay as well. Avoid damaging delicate coral and anchor your boat in sandy patches—which appear as light areas underwater—or use mooring buoys. Be sure to display a dive flag and stay clear of other boats flying them.

Biscayne National Underwater Park, Inc. offers snorkeling and scuba trips to the coral reefs as well as sales and rentals of diving gear and supplies. For tour times, prices and other information, call (305) 230-1100.

Waterskiing is allowed in the park, but water-skiers are required to stay out of anchorage areas and at least 100 feet away from the dock and other boats.

Windsurfing is excellent because of shallow, protected waters. Rentals are not available. 

Birdwatching is rewarding along the mangrove shorelines of Biscayne Bay: you can see numerous species of wading birds, including many that nest within the park. Several birds winter here and more than 170 species have been observed within the park. Canoeing the mainland mangrove shoreline is a good way to birdwatch.

Ranger programs offered year-round include guided walks, boat tours and a variety of special events. For information, call (305) 230-PARK (7275).

Dante Fascell Visitor Center is home to the park's museum with an auditorium where a variety of video presentations may be shown on request. A gallery in the visitor center auditorium hosts changing exhibits of local artists inspired by the park and its surroundings.

"The Think Tank" is Biscayne's education center and offers programming year-round. For a schedule of programs, call (305) 230-PARK (7275).