Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Biscayne National Park

Tuesday December 29, 2015                                                      Most Recent Posts:
Midway Campground                                                                 
Big Cypress National Preserve
Big Cypress National Preserve                                                    Last Days With Carrie
Ochopee, Florida




Our original plan for this most recent move was to spend a week boondocking at Long Pine Key Campground, the upper campground in Everglades National Park.  That would put us in good position to visit Biscayne National Park.  I had hoped to visit Dry Tortugas National Park while we were in the Keys and then Biscayne as we left. 

Since the former didn’t happen I was determined to do the latter.  At the time the plans were made nearly a year ago, we had no idea what sort of treatment David would be on. 

It was difficult to arrnage his treatment in the Keys and when I looked into the closest clinic to Long Pine Key it turns out it was over 100 miles away.  That’s just too far.  So we changed our plans and came to Midway which was closer to the clinic and a bit further from Biscayne. 

Today’s the day to make the trip to Biscayne.  The Visitor Center opens at 9am and we are there about 15 minutes after that.  The National Park takes up 2/3rds of Biscayne Bay which is less than 10 feet deep in most places and covers some 160 square miles. It is bordered by Miami and Key Biscayne to the North, Card Sound and Key Largo to the south.  As you can see, the park is pretty much all water.  Like 98%.




We are surprised at how easy it is to get to the park.  Coming from the west and north, we do not have to go through any of Miami.  The park sign is an interesting work of art in brick which seems a bit unusual to us as a medium for this part of the country.

We get a choice shady parking spot and head over to the visitor center which is wisely on stilts and has a ramp up.  The metal art work on the stone and coral walls is also lovely and appropriate to this mostly under water park.









At the top of the ramp there are views of the bay on three sides.  It’s a bright clear, hot and windy day here.  What’s new??



Inside the visitor center has an excellent movie on the 4 ecosystems that make up Biscayne National park.  They also have wonderful exhibit dioramas on the underwater creatures one would see snorkeling which of course it is too windy to do today.  We’ve brought our gear but again we are out of luck.












When we finish looking at all the wonderful exhibits inside, the volunteer at the desk says a ranger talk is happening outside in less than 5 mintues.  Now that’s luck.





After an introduction to the park, she takes us for a short hike.  First stop is the boat basin from which the tour boats leave when it isn’t so windy.  At the moment they are between consessionaires so the wind isn’t the real problem.  Just as the ranger explains that they sometimes see manatee here, we do.



She comes up for air and does a little roll over for us.   All the cameras are clicking.




We walk out along the edge of the bay where we see a surprising number of fish.  There is no fishing right here so they have obviously figured it out.





As we near the end of the walk, the ranger sees a snail in the water that she says may be worth taking off her boots to wade in and get.  Since, as always, I have on my oofos, I volunteer to do it instead.  Turns out the shell is empty so after she talks about the creature that did live in there, I put it back for a hermit crab to find.





The ranger kindly takes questions after the hike and then goes up to the porch of the visitor’s center to swear in 4 new Junior Rangers.  It’s great fun that she has ranger hats for all of them to wear. 






After watching the commission of new Junior Rangers, we head out to the only trail that isn’t a paddling trail in the park.  It leads over a short boardwalk to a spit of land apparently fine for swimming from but mostly used by fishermen and women.










Although the park isn’t nearly as busy as Shark Valley was on this week between Christmas and New Years, the busiest spot is this trail where continually  fishermen are rolling in and out with their coolers.




Walking back across the boardwalk to the Visitor Center we see a school of needlefish.  Dozens of them.




Biscayne would be a great park to return to on a calm day when one could kayak and snorkel.  If you visit and don’t have your own boat and want to go out to the keys north of Key Largo that are in the park, make sure to call and see if they now have a concessionaire offering transportation.




On the way back to Winnona we cut over to visit Robert is Here.  We learn this is another thing we should avoid the week between Christmas and New Years.  Here again, like Shark Valley, the cars are parked all along both sides of the road.



Robert has a great story and if you don’t know his story it’s very interesting and you can read it here.  Today there is a live one man band (on the right of the picture) and piles of people in a long line for milk shakes and so thick in the building that you really can hardly push a cart around.






Robert has all sorts of Florida fruits and tropical fruits at what we see are much higher prices than last time we were here or than at other markets we have visited.











I wait until the line gets smaller to order my milkshake.  I choose one of the holiday shakes




I try the mamey, strawberry, coconut which is excellent!.  I’ve never heard of half these fruits.



Robert himself is working the register.  We leave with a few brandywine tomatoes and an $11 1/4 bushel of Red Navel oranges which turn out to be very disappointingly tasteless.








We both agree that the milkshake is the best part of this stop.




Looks like we may not be in the minority with that opinion.



We have wisely parked on “the other road” right at the corner so it’s a short walk back to Ruby.




Other folks have parked a long way down the road on both sides.  I’ve posted about Robert Is Here before on our trips to the Everglades and this is the first time I’ll have to say that I would not recommend it.  It appears that quality is down and prices are up.





Back at Midway, I take a walk around the pond before sunset. There are a couple of signs about staying away from the alligators who live there.  I think it’s appropos that the reptile in question is in the pond, near the shore, just by the sign.



I take a picture of the sun as it goes down behind the trees and he’s in that picture too.







The skies turn more beautiful and the golds reflect in the pond waters.



Everything turns pink just before the darkness settles in.



I hadn’t remembered such lovely sunsets from our previous visits here but am very glad to be weaned away slowly from the beautiful sunrises and sunsets in the Keys.


  1. Interesting milkshakes. I had to Google "mamey", and learned it is a type of melon that tastes a bit like a baked sweet potato with honey and brown sugar.
    You are really seeing some gorgeous sunsets!

  2. Beautiful sunset at Midway:) There weren't any gators in the pond while we were there. Not sure why but the host said they weren't there and we didn't see any. Too bad you couldn't snorkel or kayak in Biscayne NP. One day the wind will stop:)

  3. A great park, that I haven't visited. Going to suggest we have "spare" Ranger hats for next summer's Junior Rangers. All that lovely looking fruit makes me drool but with the crowds and prices I'd only want to stop if I knew they had passion fruit, called granadilla in South Africa. And yet another beautiful sunset.

  4. I grew up boating and snorkeling in Key Biscayne -- but it wasn't a National Park at that time! There weren't nearly as many people there, either. It's a place that I've wanted to show to Eric, so thanks for the preview tour. The Visitor Center looks fabulous! I also grew up stopping at "Robert Is Here" back when it was just a little stand on the side of the road. Time does fly….

  5. Thanks for the trip to Biscayne NP!!! That looked like a fun day. Our last visit to Roberts was disappointing as well. As for Red Naval Oranges, we tried to get them at the Flagler Farmer's Market and were told the crop was destroyed by "greening" disease;o(( We did get some regular Naval Oranges which were very good:o)) We'll keep our eye out for Red Navals and bring some along to Hillsborough if we find any!!!

  6. We stopped at Robert is Here based on your recommendation, glad it was good for us. I bought the very best avocados I have ever eaten actually. And I grew up on California avocados.

  7. We don't really like naval oranges and have found them pretty flavorless. My rule of thumb in picking oranges is to go for the ugly ones,instead of the pretty bright orange ones. For some reason, they seem to be better, but we like juice oranges, not eating oranges. I think it's hamlin that we like for juice, but not sure. Try some Florida red grapefruit. Even if you don't like grapefruit, you'll like fresh sweet grapefruit....but wait for some cold weather so they are sweet.

    We've never been to Biscayne NP. Thanks for the tour. Cold front here, so you may be getting some relief from the heat.

  8. Biscayne looks like a great place if you've got a Kayak and a non-windy day - water, water everywhere! I would've liked the unique milkshakes at Robert is Here, I'm sure. That's no good that he's raising prices - obviously, that isn't hurting his business at this time of year. Also too bad that the oranges were tasteless - disappointing! That sunset certainly was not a disappointment :)

  9. Love the manatee and the needlefish are really cool! Great shot of the alligator too- The fruits all look exotic. I am not a fan of most tropical fruits: mangoes- BLAH! Some of the others I wouldn't have any idea how to cut into them. They are interesting looking though. Nice sunset! xxxooo

  10. That was nice of you to jump in the water and help out the ranger. I bet there aren't many others that would do that. Now we need to sign you up as a Senior Junior Ranger, you'd look great with one of those hats! ;c)

    I wonder, were you disappointed that there were no JMC shakes at that stand?

  11. It's difficult to imagine warm Florida while sitting in cold California! But we have some beautiful sunsets too.

  12. I LOVE the sunset photos-- silver, then gold, then fire, in turn; wish I could see it in 360 degrees. Wonderful that you got to see a manatee (although maybe you've seen them many times before? - I don't know how common they are). Too bad it's so difficult getting out to snorkel--it's an incredible universe just below the surface (although those needlefish look kind of demonic to me, and I'm not sure about stepping into their world!)

  13. Biscayne first made an impression on me watching Ken Burns' documentary series on the National Parks. I'd love to see the park for myself someday.

  14. One thing you can count on at Robert is Here is variety in tropical fruits - things we don't normally see in the grocery, so when you go to order a fruit shake, we have no idea what it might taste like. It would be fun to get acquainted with all of the fruits.

  15. I would like to line all the tropical fruits up and taste them all and then put them together in creative ways. Sherry can you tell me the name of your flip flops that you talked about as having great foot support that really help your back. I am going to trying to find or order a pair for summer. Great to see the Manatee. I wouldn't have even been able to identify it before following your blog. Not many up hear in the Northwest, LOL

  16. I hate it when fruit disappoints! I buy my oranges at Trader Joe's because they are always the right size with a sweet juicy flavor. I made a "shake" with chocolate soy milk, frozen cherries and frozen bananas a few hours ago and it was a great snack.

  17. We did not stop at Biscayne the last time we were there and it looked like there is not much to see :) but thanks for the tour.
    The last time we were at Robert we did order one yummy shake and a bunch of fruits. Enjoy your weather as we are now slammed with rain coming from the west.

  18. I remember you and others talking about 'Robert is Here'. Too bad the prices went up, but maybe because of weather issues? Biscayne NP looks like a wonderful place, not sure I've heard about that place. Nice!

  19. I agree the brick is "weird" for the locale - the fishy wall is so much better! Good for you jumping in to retrieve the snail :-) Love the mantee and the gators and needle fish - so much fun to see all the water critters. Don't think I could do the crowd at Robert's, although the produce is very colorful, and the shakes sound super yummy. Can't believe it's still so hot down there!


Your comments are the best part of this blog for me.
I LOVE hearing from you!