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Discover A Watery World: Biscayne National Park

Did you know that just south of Miami there is a National Park that is composed of over 95% water? Well, welcome to Biscayne National Park! There are tons of things to do and see here, and most of them entail something watery.

If you are interested in learning more about this lesser-known National Park, then let us share what we have learned on our visit to this awesome park!

Table of Contents

Biscayne Visitor Center

External Dante Fascell Visitor Center sign at Biscayne National Park

Biscayne National Park was really easy to get to and the parking at the Dante Fascell Visitor center was easy, with some spots putting you right up to the Bay.

Getting there early will allow you to visit the ground and explore. We got there early, and we were able to walk around the boardwalk of the visitor center and check out the marina behind the main building. (My daughter liked walking the curb) This supports all the excursions to and around the Biscayne Keys.

You can take boat tours, snorkeling and scuba expeditions, Paddle board, Kayaking and visits to the Lighthouse and hiking trail on Elliot Key. Really, almost anything that involves water!

Marina and boat docks behind a concrete walkway at Biscayne National Park
Biscayne National Park Marina

All the excursions can be reserved through the Biscayne National Park Institue which partners with the National Park and the Florida National Parks association to offer these opportunities. The proceeds from the fees of course help pay for the activities, but also go to support the park.

Jetty Walk at Dante Fascell Visitor Center

Continuing around the back of the Visitor center, there is a nice board walk that takes you past the marina and toward the jetty. It is a nice Mangrove lined walk taking you out to a great view of Biscayne Bay.

Map of Jetty Walk at Dante Fascell Visitor Center Biscayne National Park
Map of Jetty Walk at Dante Fascell Visitor Center Biscayne National Park
water, white clouds and blue sky and patches of green coastline, View from Jetty Walk at Biscayne Florida National Park
View from Jetty Walk

Biscayne National Park Visitor Center

To check-in for your excursion, you walk upstairs to the bookstore. When we checked in for our Kayaking tour, they were very helpful, and the process was super easy. I am sure more complicated excursions (snorkeling, etc.) that require more personal use equipment would take a little more time.

Inside Lobby of Biscayne National Park

The visitor center is upstairs on the second floor of the main building. There is stairs and a ramp going up both sides. There is a nice collection of nature artifacts, a little aquarium on the back of the front counter and a room in the back with numerous exhibits about the ecology of the park.

Where is the Stamping Station at Biscayne National Park?

The National Park passport stamping station is in the visitor center (not the bookstore) next to the door to the ramp. On our visit we found the main cancellation stamp for the site, and three nifty lighthouse stamps. (score!)

National Park passport cancellation stamps are a great, no cost, low impact way to commemorate a visit to one of our National Parks. We have an entire article dedicated to explaining the program and how to get the most out of it.

After we watched a brief video about the Jones family on Porgy Key, we headed downstairs to meet our guide (Mr. Chris) for our Kayak tour of the Mangroves.

Kayak the Mangroves in Biscayne National Park

After collecting our small group, we walked over to the Kayak boat launch which is in front of the building next to the parking lot.

I think it is best to use the Biscayne National Park Institute, for your excursion. We used them and were very pleased. They are partners of the Florida State Parks and NPS. Check out their site for a listing of all their tours and activities.

yellow and orange Kayaks next to water

Kayaking the Mangroves Tour Overview

The Kayak the Mangrove tour is a 1 1/2 hour guided tour of the mangroves on the coast of the National Park. The guide organized all the two-person ocean kayaks for the group on the shore. After assigning everyone a partner, we launched out into the bay. After an initial talk, we followed the guide across the bay toward Fender point.

Note, if you have young children, they will be required to wear a lifejacket. Adults and older teens can choose not to wear, but the PFD is still kept on the kayak just in case.

What should I bring on a Kayak the Mangrove tour?

If you are planning to go on a Kayak tour, here is a list of what we found helpful to bring:

  • Reef Safe Sunscreen
  • Hat (I like my big floppy hat)
  • Swimsuit (you will get wet from all the paddling)
  • Sun Shirt
  • Water shoes or sandals you don’t mind getting wet
  • Water bottle
  • Small waterproof bag (for your keys, phone, etc.)
  • Sunglasses

Paddling to the Mangroves in Biscayne National Park

We started a nice paddle over to the Mangrove next to the coast of the park. The guide was very knowledgeable and spent the first 45 min talking about the ecology of the park. Did you know that there are three different types of Mangroves in the park?

kayakers and water in Mangroves

We then paddled over to the island in the middle of the bay. There we felt the wind grabbing the water and it started to get a little rough. I was proud of my daughter, as she just kept going forward and was enjoying the ride. The guide gave some additional information, and then allowed us to roam the area for the rest of the time, asking us to meet back where we launched at the assigned time.

Black Point Creek Canal and Manatees

We decided to head to black point creek canal to see if we could find some Manatees. After a bit of a paddle and waving at the local fisherman and dodging pelicans looking for a handout, we hung out next to the shore. The kids got out of the Kayaks and walked over to the canal gate and saw a few manatees. They tried to take a picture, and is sorta came out (ha, ha).

After a paddle back through the mangroves we headed back to Dante Fascell visitor center. Don’t forget to have a towel in your car so you can dry off after getting out of the kayak!

Final Thoughts Biscayne National Park

We really enjoyed our experience on the water at Biscayne National Park. I would encourage you to do some type of activity or excursion to fully experience what is available. There is so much available! If you are not athletically inclined, a nice boat tour of the keys would still be a wonderful experience.

We look forward to trying another activity here when we are in the area next time. Hmmm, maybe some snorkeling?

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