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  • Biscayne National Park Trip
  • Kelly Quinn

Biscayne National Park Trip

 

Snorkel the Florida Keys Coral Reef at Biscayne National Park and explore endangered mangrove forests!

Biscayne National Park Artwork by Kelly QuinnBiscayne National Park Jones Lagoon, Digital artwork by Kelly Quinn

 Hi There! Thanks for jumping in to learn more about Biscayne National Park! Here are some of the questions I will be answering about the park and how you can enjoy your time when visiting! 

  • What is the best way to experience Biscayne National Park and where do I sign up?
  • What should I bring for a trip and where should I stay?
  • Why was Biscayne National Park formed and how can I support the park?

 

Biscayne National Park

Biscayne National Park Boca Chita Lighthouse, Photograph by Kelly Quinn


Within sight of Miami, rests a natural gem that feels like a world away. Biscayne National Park protects a rare combination of critically endangered habitats that includes dense mangrove forests, abundant seagrass-beds, lush tropical barrier islands, and vivid coral reefs!

Biscayne National ParkBiscayne National Park Institute, Photograph by Kelly Quinn


What is the best way to experience Biscayne National Park and where do I sign up?

Covering almost 173,000 acres on the Southeastern coast of Florida, over 95% of the park is underwater habitat filled with corals, sponges, sharks, sea turtles, and sunken ships! This means the best way to truly experience Biscayne is to hop on one of the Biscayne National Park Institute excursion boats that take you to either the coral reef or the mangrove islands and grass beds! You can also visit the sunken ships on the maritime trail if weather permits!

Biscayne National ParkBiscayne National Park Jones Lagoon, Photograph by Blake Wheeler


Blake and I had the opportunity to do both the Mangrove paddle-board trip and the snorkel experience in one day, just pick either a morning or afternoon excursion on the institutes' website www.biscaynebaynationalparkinstitute.org and enjoy the views!

Biscayne National Park Jones LagoonBiscayne National Park Jones Lagoon, Photograph by Blake Wheeler


We started the morning off at Jones Lagoon with a "Paddle Eco-Adventure" that began at 9 am and ended by noon! This ended up being our favorite place because there was so much micro-life to see in the mangrove nursery! We paddled through the mangrove canopies catching glimpses of baby lemon sharks, black tips and nurse sharks, and even saw a speedy little sea turtle! As you paddle along, you will also notice the thousands of vividly patterned upside-down jellies gently swaying in the grass beds. Definitely bring your GoPro for this trip!

Biscayne National Park Jones Lagoon SharkBiscayne National Park Jones Lagoon Lemon Shark, Photograph by Blake Wheeler

After a quick lunch break back at the Dante Fascell Visitor Center, we jumped on another excursion called the "Snorkel Experience" which left for its afternoon trip at 1:25 pm for the Coral Reef. All the gear you need can be provided once you arrive at the center for an additional $8 fee, just get there a bit early so you have time to find the right gear that fits you! 

Biscayne National Park Institute Snorkel TripBiscayne National Park Institute Snorkel Trip 

After a quick safety talk and description of the location you will be visiting, you're on the boat and off to your next adventure! Be sure to pack your "Reef Safe" sunscreen, a lotion that has no harmful chemicals in it unlike most other sunscreens, which will help keep our remaining corals healthy and safe while also protecting your bum from the sun! The most reliable brand I use is Stream2Sea!

Biscayne National Park Snorkel TripBiscayne National Park Coral Reef, Photograph by Kelly Quinn

We saw a menagerie of fish species, ranging from tiny neon gobies to adult French angelfish, all of which don't mind you paying a visit to their reef home! If you're lucky, you may even see an Octopus or Sea Turtle!

Biscayne National Park Snorkel TripBiscayne National Park Coral Reef, Photograph by Kelly Quinn


What should I bring and Where should I stay?


Bring a bathing suit, cover-up, hat, glasses and plenty of reef-safe sunscreen like Stream2Sea! I'd also recommend you pack a bag full of snacks for the trip! We stayed at a local Airbnb in Homestead, just a 20-minute drive from the visitor center! There is no camping at the visitor center however, you can camp on Elliot Key and Boca Chita Key, though the only way to get there is by taking a private boat. You can learn more about camping in Biscayne HERE

Biscayne National Park Boca Chita KeyBoca Chita Lighthouse, Photograph by Kelly Quinn


Why was the Park created?

On the 5% of the park that's land, there are over 10,000 years of human history to be discovered! From ice age indigenous peoples, pirates and conquistadors to pineapple farmers and presidents, Biscayne Bay represents this unique combination of both human and natural history. We were lucky enough to be guided through Elliot Key by Gary, one of the Park's veteran rangers! Elliot Key once had a highway called the "Spite Highway" which was developed by the previous owners before the park existed to destroy the habitat the park was going to be protecting. Luckily, with time the highway has grown in and now acts as a trail you can take a stroll on, just bring bug spray! While we were visiting Elliot Key, we even saw an Endangered species of butterfly called the Schaus Swallowtail!

Biscayne National Park Schaus Swallowtail Butterfly on Elliot KeySchaus Swallowtail Butterfly, Photograph by Kelly Quinn

It's crazy to think we came way too close to having a deepwater seaport for cargo ships, as well as a refinery and petrochemical facility planted right where the Biscayne National Park Visitor Center is located today!

Biscayne National Park Spite Highway on Elliot Key Spite Highway on Elliot Key, Photograph by Blake Wheeler

Thankfully, we were lucky enough to have forward-thinking patrons of conservation who saw the value of protecting our wild heritage for the next generation.💙 Today we hold the torch, It's now up to us to protect this gem for even more generations to come, and I think we are up to the challenge!

Biscayne National Park
You can support Biscayne National Park by simply visiting and enjoying an excursion with the Biscayne National Park Institute which supports the funding of projects in the Park and even helps curate events like my upcoming Art Exhibition "Immersion"! If you can't make it down then no worries! You can also support Biscayne by collecting any of the Biscayne National Park themed products on my site! A percent of the profits from each piece sold goes back to the Park! see a few of the products below!

Keep protecting what you love, friends! ✌️

-Kelly Quinn

 

Support Biscayne National Park With These Products

Nurse Shark Sticker  |  $6

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Nurse Shark Sticker

Biscayne National Park Tee  |  $35

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Biscayne Tee

 

Biscayne National Park Tank  |  $35

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Biscayne Tank

 

Flamingo Yoga Legging  |  $65

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Flamingo Yoga Legging

 

 

 

  • Kelly Quinn

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