Biscayne National Park: A Florida Treasure

biscayne national parkMost national parks across the United States contain a variety of scenic vistas accessible through the standard fare of walking paths and hiking trails. Located at southern tip of the Florida peninsula, Biscayne National Park is a unique experience that has much to offer below the water’s surface, quite unlike any other national park in the US. The 172,000 protected acres are covered mostly by water, making Biscayne National Park unique in what it has to offer.

Biscayne encompasses four distinct ecosystems. Each ecosystem has its own spectacular views, but visitors looking to make the most of what the park has to offer should be prepared to get wet.

At the water’s edge, Convoy Point offers a safe and accessible look at the incredible flora and wildlife via the Dante Fascell Visitor Center and surrounding look-outs points. First-time visitors or families with small children will want to take some time familiarize themselves with the park’s layout to make the most of their visit.

Biscayne National Park services offer several boating tours as well as canoe and kayak rentals, but those planning a visit should take time to make their own boating arrangements if they can. The park operates on a “first come, first serve” basis for amenities including rentals, though several island campsites have exceptions to this rule for large groups. Island campgrounds have designed boating harbors with an overnight docking fee. The standard fee is $20, a but visitors should check with the park before an extended stay at one of islands available for overnight camping.

biscayne national park

Nudibranchs on a reef in Biscayne National Park

Previous visitors to Biscayne National Park know only a small fraction of park is visible on foot or by boat. Barring the bird’s eye view of nesting eagles and osprey, the best view of the park’s wildlife comes from beneath the surface. Visitors prepared to dive can experience a diversity of wildlife that cannot be matched by that found in any other national park.

There are over 30 wrecks in the park’s aquatic borders, many of which are part of the National Park Service’s only underwater archaeological trail. The park offers guided tours of these sites for certified divers and helps connect them with tourist agencies authorized to operate within the park.

Images via Bruce Tuten, tiswango

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