What to do in Biscayne National Park!
Check out my blog post on What to Bring When Visiting A National Park here.
Forty-five miles away from Miami lies a breathtaking national park that is 95% water, Biscayne National Park. You can snorkel reefs, shipwreck sites or mangroves. Experience sailing or cruising across Biscayne Bay, or take a relaxing kayak or paddle tour through mangroves. Biscayne National Park Institute, an authorized concessionaire with Biscanye National Park, offers guided tours all over Biscayne National Park. In addition, you can camp at Boca Chita and Elliott Keys, however, the only access to these islands is by boat.
While visiting Miami Beach for spring break 2022 we decided to take advantage of the close proximity to two of our nations great national parks, Biscayne National Park and Everglades National Park. We were able to visit both parks in just one day. While I would have enjoyed more time in each park, it was still a perfect side trip. From Miami take the Ronald Reagan Turnpike for a little over an hour to reach Biscayne National Park. We left our airbnb in the morning to reach Biscayne around 8:30 for our 9:00 a.m. kayak tour. Since Biscayne Bay is 95% water, we decided to book a guided tour with Biscayne National Park Institute to see some of this park. I chose the Jones Lagoon Eco-Adventure-Paddle tour for 3.5 hours, which allowed us the opportunity to either kayak or paddle board through only inches deep clear, calm water. We were able to see many jellyfish, a baby shark, varieties of fish and the rare Roseate Spoonbill.
Biscayne National Park has one visitor center, the Dante Fascell Visitor Center and there is no fee to enter this park. There is a small shop here where you can buy souvenirs and items, such as sunscreen and there are restrooms to use prior to any water adventures you may have planned. Behind the visitor center is the meeting point for any water tour with the Biscayne National Park Institute.
Biscayne Bay to Hurricane Creek
We met our tour guide and were provided lifejackets prior to boarding our vessel. To reach our destination, Biscayne Bay National Institute utilises a powerboat. The boat ride to Hurricane Creek and Jones Lagoon takes about 30 minutes across Biscayne Bay to Hurricane Creek. While on the boat the guide provides a detailed explanation about how Biscayne Bay became a national park. Part of the Florida Keys, Biscayne Bay became a national park in 1968 to protect these ancient coral reef islands. In addition to protecting these islands, the park included the bay to the west, and the reefs to the east, which, in turn, protects wildlife.
Kayaking/Paddle-boarding in Jones Lagoon
Once we were across Biscayne Bay we reached Hurricane Creek, which is an inlet in the upper Florida Keys. After finding a remote location near Jones Lagoon, the guide dropped anchor, unloaded the inflatable kayaks and paddle boards, then helped the participants disembark the boat. (A lagoon is a a shallow body of water that is protected from a larger body of water by coral reefs, barrier islands, or a sandbar.) Once everyone in our group was in or on their water floatation device (you can choose kayak or paddle board) we paddled through the lagoon with our guide, all the while, he was giving us detailed information about the wildlife around us, why lagoons are an important part of our eco-system and how Jones Lagoon got its name. I'll omit the facts he provided so you can learn the answers first-hand from your own tour guide. I will share that the best time to visit these lagoons are in the winter/spring. Mosquitos are in abundance in the summer and fall and can be quite bothersome. Fortunately, we were there in March so there were no mosquitos.
It's an amazing site! Once in the lagoon, there are only inches of water beneath you. We glided quietly through lush mangroves and witnessed stingrays, parrot fish, cauliflower jellyfish, and the very rare Roseate Spoonbill soaring over us. In fact, National Geographic was in that location getting photographs and observing the Roseate Spoonbill the day we visited.
After nearly an hour of exploration in this diverse, scenic lagoon we returned to our boat, boarded with the assistance of our guide, (no one capsized!) and began the journey back to the mainland. Nearly 30 minutes later, we were back at Biscayne National Park's visitor center. We then walked around the grounds of the visitor center. There is a short trail from the visitor center called the jetty trail. The trail is only a 15 minute walk alongside the mangrove-lined shore. We had spent about four hours at this national park and loved our aquatic experience. Now we are off to visit Everglades National Park. Read my blog about our visit to Everglades National Park here.
Road to Everglades National Park/Shark Valley Visitor Center
Driving to Everglades National Park from Biscayne National Park takes a little over an hour. Since we had not been able to eat lunch yet, we decided to stop at a famous little fruit stand called, Robert Is Here. Perfectly situated along our route, we pulled into this quaint fruit stand to get something to eat. The fruit here is amazing to see, nothing like the fruit they sell in the markets in Indiana. They make delicious and exotic fruit smoothies or shakes to order. Choose from the vast array of fruits and within minutes you will be refreshed with its explosive flavours. I was daring and tried the Guanabana smoothie with mango. It did have a unique flavour, but was quite tasty. In addition to smoothies, we purchased some fresh, homemade salsa and chips and enjoyed a quick satisfying lunch. I highly recommend you visit this fruit stand and enjoy the unique foods this area has to offer.
Everglades National Park here we come!!!!!
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