January 7, 2012

On the Water

It’s fun playing tourist in your own backyard (or the backyard where you used to live).  It’s so true that we often take for granted the amazing sites that are close to home.  I was guilty of that when I lived in Miami.  There was always tomorrow, or next week, or next month. Now, Tim and I are going to many of the places that I had either never visited, or visited just briefly.  Earlier in the week we spent time in the Everglades.  Today it was Biscayne National Park.

Unlike most parks, Biscayne National Park is mostly underwater.  Only five percent of the park acreage is on land.  The park preserves a nationally significant marine ecosystem that includes mangrove shorelines, a shallow bay, undeveloped islands and coral reefs.  

Islands in Biscayne Bay
Red Mangroves Guard the Bay and Protect the Coast
A concessioner offers boat tours to islands in the park, and Tim and I had reserved spaces on the tour to Boca Chita Key.  When we arrived at the park on a gorgeous Saturday morning, we were shocked to find the visitor center parking lot almost empty.  Only five people had signed up for the tour, and the minimum was twelve.  We had to wait to see if we’d be able to go.  Where was everyone?  Why wasn’t the park more crowded?

Our Boat
At the last minute, a large family arrived and signed up, so the tour was a “go.”  A volunteer with the park accompanied us and provided a wonderful commentary on what we were seeing as we headed across Biscayne Bay.  Dolphins frolicked in the distance, and numerous birds flew overhead.

Looking for a Meal
We arrived at Boca Chita Key in less than an hour and docked along the seawall. We climbed the 65-foot ornamental lighthouse built in the 1930s by one of the island's former owners and were treated to expansive views of Biscayne Bay. The Miami skyline was visible in the distance. We wandered along the beach, examined the beautiful shells and enjoyed just relaxing in the warm sun. The island is popular with boaters from South Florida, who come here to picnic or even camp overnight.

The Lighthouse on Boca Chita Key Is the Symbol of Biscayne National Park
The View from the Lighthouse
Tim and Sarah
Pleasure Boats Dock on Boca Chita Key
The Miami Skyline Is Visible in the Distance
Even the Common Shells Are Pretty
After we arrived back at the mainland, we saw a juvenile manatee swim by. They’re such amazing creatures, and I’m sorry Tim missed seeing him. Biscayne National Park is a beautiful and peaceful park, and was a perfect place to chill out before we drove into the craziness that is Miami.

A Young Manatee Swims By

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