Biscayne National Park, just 25 mi/40 km south of Miami, Florida, protects and preserves a significant marine ecosystem that includes a shallow bay, undeveloped islands and coral reefs. The islands are the northernmost of the Florida Keys (though they are not directly connected to the other Keys by road) and contain tropical hardwood forests in their interiors. East of the islands lie coral reefs that support a colorful kaleidoscope of plants, fish and other sea creatures. The mangroves that line the bay draw birds, lobsters, sea turtles and manatees.
To reach the park, drive Highway 1 from Miami and then take S.W. 328th Street to Convoy Point and the park headquarters. The easiest way to see the park's underwater riches is aboard the glass-bottomed boat called the Reef Rover, but if you have time, by all means try a snorkeling or scuba-diving excursion to Boca Chita Key or Shark Reef—it's an unforgettable experience. While in the area, you may want to stop at Coral Castle. This strange labor of love is a collection of enormous sculptures and structures hewn by one man as a tribute to the woman who jilted him.
The Convoy Point and Dante Fascell visitors centers provide valuable information, as well as gift shop kiosks with food, drinks and souvenirs. Canoe and kayak rentals are also available. Phone 305-230-1100. http://www.biscayneunderwater.com.
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