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April 11, 2019

NP 12/63

Written by: Colin

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Made up of 95% water, Biscayne National Park is quite unique. Our vision for a trip to this park was to dive in and experience colorful coral reef and schools of fish. Biscayne National Park Institute is the official concessionaire for all the rentals and experiences at the park. Their services are located in the bookstore, just next door to the Dante Fascell Visitor Center. Based off of prior research, we planned on renting a canoe for a full day trip and venturing off to various points-of-interest. We were clearly mistaken, when we instead opted for a 2 hour canoe rental that we were told would be more than enough time to see everything that was accessible by paddling. We were a little confused, because it felt like we were already going to be missing out on so much of the park. None-the-less, we hopped in our canoe and were off!


Biscayne Canoe Launch - FIRE UP!

We took the recommended route along the mangroves and into a canal where there was a chance to see manatees, although we sadly did not see any. It was the most perfect day to be out canoeing on the open water, complete with a city view of Miami in the distance. We felt bad complaining, but we were still upset that we didn’t feel like we were getting the experience we had dreamed of. A quick break on a little island gave us some time to cool off and take in the views around us, before heading back to the mainland.


Dante Fascell Visitor Center


A Small Island in Biscayne Bay


A Very Distant Miami

On the way back, we took a trail, real thick in the mangroves, trying to suck every ounce of experience out of this canoe trip. Still feeling disappointed, we headed back to the visitor center to see if we could get any recommendations. We noticed that there was one last snorkeling tour being offered for the day and we asked about the details. After much debate, we decided to fork up the extra money and try to get the Biscayne experience that we came all the way here for. BEST. DECISION. OF. THE. TRIP.


Biscayne Mangroves


Our Tour Boat

Our tour was of the Mandalay Shipwreck. On a 1965 New Years Eve trip to Miami, the crew of the Mandalay maybe celebrated a little too much. Winding up crashed onto Long Reef, the ship sank into the shallow water. All 24 passengers survived after being airlifted by helicopter. Unfortunately, scavengers found out of the ship’s location and looted much of it. However, the frame that remains is a sight-to-see.

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The Mandalay Shipwreck

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The Mandalay Shipwreck

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The Mandalay Shipwreck

I am not much of a swimmer and was very nervous the whole way out. We jumped into the water, and I had a bit of a panic attack. I had never been in the open ocean water like that before and it took a bit of getting used to. Once I got my breathing under control, I had the time of my life!


Finally Calmed Down

This was perfect for me, because it was so shallow, I didn’t have to completely dive beneath the surface to get the whole experience. We enjoyed this excursion as much as anything on our entire trip to the 3 Florida national parks. If we were to go back, our main focus would definitely be on a coral reef tour. Anyone looking to visit Biscayne National Park, do your research, plan your day and make sure you have time to fit in everything you want to do. These excursions are once-in-a-lifetime and are absolutely worth every penny!


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An Amazing Experience

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