“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Dante Fascell Visitor Center is located within ten miles of Homestead, which made our motel choice a convenient base for our visit. When we first researched Biscayne we had intended to camp on Boca Chita Key; but, further research led us to discover that there is no ferry concessionaire to the island and private charters to/from the island would certainly break the budget.
Biscayne National Park is located just south of Miami and encompasses 173,000 acres most of which is water. The park protects the costal mangroves that are a vital sanctuary for birds and other wildlife. The shallow blue waters that encompass most of the park are teeming with exotic life. Brilliantly colored fish and other creatures can be found effortlessly in many of its coral reefs. The trick is figuring out how to access all this grandeur.
We arrived at the visitor center and found multiple movies to view and some excellent exhibits. Outside the visitor center we walked the short coast trails (and we do mean short) and quickly realized that simply wasn’t enough for us to experience the park. The water was calling.
Fortunately, we had made reservations with the highly rated Miami Ocean Rafting Company for an afternoon of snorkeling complete with a visit to Boca Chita Key. We had to drive over an hour back over to Biscayne Bay to board our charter and it was worth it! We met our captains Bill and Scott who shared their knowledge about the area throughout our tour. These guys are boating daily and took us to an amazing snorkeling spot over the Mandalay shipwreck that sunk on January 1, 1966. The wreck is located in maybe 10 feet of water and extends up just under the water level. The fish are abundant and we experienced too many species to count. This snorkeling experience is one that will stay with us forever.
After snorkeling, we headed to Boca Chita Key. Arriving to an empty harbor we had the place to ourselves.
We ate lunch and then hiked the island. Since we walked the whole island within an half hour we were not disappointed to be have been unable to camp.
Heading back to the harbor we were treated to the coast guard in a helicopter practicing picking up people out of boats and a cigar boat burning massive amounts of fuel. We had a great time at Biscayne, as short as it was!
Visited February, 2015
Up Next: Congaree National Park