Biscayne National Park

Biscayne National Park

Water Wonderland: Biscayne National Park

January 13, 2011, 10:52 am

Located in southeastern Florida, Biscayne sits in the tropical and stunning waters of the Biscayne Bay. Biscayne is a water wonderland comprised of coral reefs, lush islands and clear water. Although just a short jaunt from bustling downtown Miami, Biscayne gives visitors an escape from the city and a chance to get back to nature. Take a boat ride and observe dolphins or go snorkeling in a reef. No matter what you choose, Biscayne is the perfect location for a relaxing adventure. You will soon realize these are not the flashy, developed beaches of South Beach.

Since its beginnings in 1980, Biscayne is a paradise for those enamored with crystal clear waters. Although the park is 173,000 acres, approximately 95 percent of the park is water. This isn't to say that mammals don't live here. Manatees, shrews, whales, otters and opossums all reside in the confines of Biscayne, so be sure to keep an eye out!

In order to properly explore the park, the best transportation is by boat. Kayaking are canoeing are the favorite choice for those day trippers. Biscayne harbor more than just wildlife. The waters are home to a variety of shipwrecks, with dates spanning from 1878 to 1966, that can be explored. Old tall ships that once sailed across the water with ease now sit at the bottom of an ocean landscape. The park is home to the National Park Service's only underwater archaeological trail. Scuba Divers can explore history and wildlife simultaneously.

The park features glass bottom boat trips and snorkeling for those interested in staying closer to the surface while seeing what life underwater looks like. Biscayne is home to the starting point of the third largest coral reef in the world and provides crucial habitat for a variety of marine life. 500 species of fish swim in Biscayne, mostly in the coral reef. With sea turtles, spiny lobsters, giant land crabs, stingrays, sharks and seahorses, underwater exploration is sure to be an unforgettable experience.

However, it is important to realize that planning is key for visiting Biscayne. Due to the marine location of the park, most areas are only accessible by taking a guided boat tour and certain activities will fill up fast. Camping is available in the park but located on islands only reachable by boat. Whether you bring your own, rent or take a guided tour, expect to spend a fair amount of time away from land. With only a mile of road in the park and no bridges, transportation options are limited.

The waters of Biscayne are open 24 hours a day while Convoy Point visitor center is open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The Dante Fascell Visitor Center is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and contains a gift shop, food, drinks and souvenirs. For information about boat rentals, tour, etc. please contact the park's concessioner at 305-230-1100 or visit their website BiscayneUnderwater.com/