Turquoise Waters, Secluded Islands and Vibrant Coral Reefs

Biscayne National Park

Welcome to the largest marine park in the national park system. Biscayne National Park is an underwater park – fully 95% of the park is covered by water – so get ready to get wet if you’re planning a visit.

Biscayne National Park protects Biscayne Bay from Key Biscayne south to Key Largo. To the east, the park protects a portion of the Florida Reef, and to the west, an unbroken stretch of Miami’s mangrove shoreline.

In between you’ll find a cluster of barrier islands with remote, rocky beaches where sea turtles come home to nest in the summer.

Marine life is the star attraction at Biscayne National Park but this place also boasts a fascinating history, stretching from the island farms of the 19th century to the bait-and-beer shacks of the 1930s and the development dreams (and schemes) of the 1960s.

Early Settlers: The Jones Family

Of all the tales of early life in Miami, the saga of the Jones Family stands out as a testament to human spirit, ingenuity and perseverance. The family patriarch was an African-American stevedore from North Carolina named Parson Jones. He settled on Porgy Key in 1897. He grew pineapples and key limes and, together with his Bahamian wife, raised two sons, named King Arthur and Sir Lancelot. Lancelot Jones grew up to become a fishing guide whose clients included Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. His decision to sell the family’s property to the National Park Service helped establish Biscayne National Park. Learn More

Living the High Life: Stiltsville

Back in the 1930s, when Miami was still a sleepy Southern town, local folk began to build shacks in a shallow portion of Biscayne Bay just south of Key Biscayne. The houses sat on stilts above the water, and the neighborhood came to be known as Stiltsville. Seven houses survive today. The properties are jointly managed by the park service and the Stiltsville Trust. Learn More

Shipwrecks: Maritime Heritage Trail

The reef tract that separates Miami from the deep blue ocean is littered with the broken dreams of ship captains who strayed off course and ran aground. Six of those shipwrecks make up the park’s Maritime Heritage Trail, an underwater destination for divers and snorkelers. The Maritime Heritage Trail was established with support from the SFNPT. Learn More

The Park’s Marine Life

Biscayne National Park protects the northern-most portion of the Florida Reef. Learn more about the park’s coral reefs. Learn More

Nesting Sea Turtles

Loggerhead sea turtles return to Biscayne National Park every summer to nest on the park’s barrier islands. The SFNPT provides annual support for the park’s turtle conservation program. Learn More

A Park is Born

Two founding members of the SFNPT – Lloyd Miller and Lacey Hoover – have a special kinship with Biscayne National Park. In the 1960s when developers wanted to build on Biscayne’s barrier islands and open an oil refinery on the shoreline, Lloyd Miller and Lacey’s father, Herbert W. Hoover Jr., fought to block those plans and establish a national park. The battle turned nasty, but Miller, Hoover and their allies ultimately prevailed. Biscayne National Park was established by an act of Congress in 1968. Learn More

Biscayne National Park: It Almost Wasn’t

Lloyd Miller has written a book about the struggle called “Biscayne National Park: It Almost Wasn’t.” The book is available from the Everglades Association, the nonprofit organization that runs the park’s bookstore: Biscayne National Park: It Almost Wasn’t