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Florida: Diving at Biscayne National Park

The thing about Biscayne National Park, located near Florida’s southern tip on the Atlantic Coast, is that you can drive to it and not know you’re there. Sure, there’s the Dante Fascell Visitor Center and a parking lot, but the national park itself? All you can see is water. But that’s exactly the point. Biscayne National Park is 95% underwater, meaning you need to get out on a boat – or beneath one – to truly appreciate what this place is all about.

The most unique activity at Biscayne National Park is the Maritime Heritage Trail, a diving trail that connects six famous shipwrecks, all marked with mooring buoys. Park staff can provide brochures with detailed descriptions and plans of each wreck, but you need a boat to get there (and pretty much anywhere else in the park). The National Park Service keeps a list of authorized outfitters that can help you access Biscayne. Note that some wrecks are for divers, but a few, especially the Mandalay, can be appreciated by snorkelers.

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There are two islands off the mainland, Boca Chita and Elliott Key, where visitors can camp. Beyond the appeal of waking up on a subtropical island, there’s excellent snorkeling to be had among the mangroves (trees and shrubs that grow in brackish and saline water).

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