Visitors find range of activities in park
HOMESTEAD, Fla.— When looking for a relaxing activity to engage in outdoors where the breeze is crisp and the surroundings are crystal clear water and wild animals there is a place not too far away.
Biscayne National Park has activities to engage in for every kind of personality. There are high endurance activities like canoeing, scuba diving, snorkeling and camping.
|Reef Rover IV, with a thick glass bottom for reef viewing, is one of the tourist boats available at the Dante Fascell Visitor Center at Biscayne National Park (Staff photos).||
Conveniently, for those who prefer a low key visit to the park, there are plenty of things available to entertain.
The three hour glass bottom boat tour is a relaxing way to experience the park. It is a guided tour that takes visitors into the coral reefs and the various islands that surround Biscayne.
“It’s fun because you get to see a lot of fish and other animals that you normally wouldn’t see,” said Stephanie Palacios, who went on the boat tour a few months back with her family.
“The time that I went we even saw dolphins which I wasn’t expecting.” Along with dolphins, turtles and a variety of fish are common sites during the tour.
|Rangers are available to educate visitors about the wide range of marine life in the Biscayne Bay and the national park.|
For any visitors who don’t like the idea of being outdoors at all, there are still ways to get to know the park and learn about everything that it has to offer.
The Dante Fascell Visitor Center contains a museum inside with information on the park’s animals and nature that surrounds it.
“People can learn about different aspects of the park,” said Maria Beotegui, a ranger at the park.
Visitors can learn all about the park through films, lectures and visual aids that contain bright colors and illustrations that give a clear understanding.
“This is a great way for local folks to come out and see how others are inspired by it,” said Gary Bremen, a park ranger at Biscayne.
The Fascell Visitor Center also has a table filled with a variety of shells and skulls of different species for visitors to touch and examine their uniqueness.
A sign hangs that reads “please touch” which gives the okay to feel the smooth, pearl colored skeletal structures of animals like alligators that visitors are so intrigued by.
“What I liked best about the museum is that there are enough activities to keep kids and adults entertained and at the same time you are discovering interesting things about where you live,” said Carmen Rodriguez, a school volunteer who went on a field trip to the park.
The art exhibition in the visitor center is another option for those who want a calm and homey experience of the park. Every few months the gallery, also located in the visitor center, reveals the work of a different artist.
Currently the art of Maya Schonenberger is being shown, hung along the walls of the small gallery. Each piece is covered in colorful layers of fabric and paint that show figures in a variety of nature like settings.
The idea behind the gallery is not only to reveal the beauty of the park but also to inform visitors of ways to preserve nature and how to be eco-friendly.
The exhibitions are also available to educate visitors on the different areas of the park that may face certain dangers.
Visitors also have a chance to meet the artist that the gallery is showcasing on the first night of the debut.
For those who would like to spend a bit of time in the outdoors there are still options. Even though the park is covered mostly by water, there is a small trail that can be walked at Convoy Point called the Jetty Trail that is available with a tour guide.
Visitors also have the choice of going out to the porch of the Fascell Visitor Center for a ranger talk. Each ranger has a different topic and the visitors choose which one to attend.
|Out-of-state visitors listen to a park ranger describe coral reef life before taking their reef boat tour at Biscayne National Park.|
Bremen does a talk called gifts from the sea in which he talks about the different things that wash up on the shore like shells, medicines from the sea and trash from around the world. “We do get lots of seniors that come in,” said Bremen about the program.
For visitors that would like to take it easy next to the water, a quiet picnic is always an option at the park. Tables are available right along the water in various islands of the park as well as in Convoy Point.
“People can come out and enjoy the breeze and enjoy the view,” said Beotegui.
Visitors don’t need to worry about missing out at Biscayne if the heavy outdoor activities aren’t an option. There are still a variety of low key activities that allow for a genuine and enjoyable experience for all ages.
If You Go
The Dante Fascell Visitor Center is located in Convoy Point, just east of Homestead, Fla.
Picnicking is available at Convoy Point and on Elliott Key, Adams Key and Boca Chita Key, but the islands are only accessible by boat.
While there is a gift shop with a small offering of sandwiches and drinks, most food and drink should to be brought to the park by visitors.
For directions to Convoy Point, visit the official website for Biscayne National Park at http://www.nps.gov/bisc/.