biscayne national park camping

Camping in Biscayne National Park

If you like to experience being on a secluded island overnight, then camping in Biscayne National Park is an experience that you should definitely seek out!  Since 95% of Biscayne National Park is water, it’s no surprise that any camping that you do in the park is going to be right on the water!

biscayne national park camping

Getting out to the islands of Biscayne National Park takes a bit of work (and you need to have access to a boat!), but once you get here, there are a few options to consider, and both are very much worth the effort. 

We hope this guide helps walk you through how to best prepare yourself for a camping trip in Biscayne National Park!

BISCAYNE NATIONAL PARK CAMPGROUNDS: OVERVIEW

If you are visiting Florida and are a National Park fan (of course you are, as you are reading this blog!), then you have likely already heard about Florida’s most popular park, Everglades National Park, and maybe even Dry Tortugas National Park, which is off the coast of Key West.  If you are like most visitors to Florida, then Biscayne National Park may not have been on your list of destinations.  However, you are in for a treat if you make it out to the east coast of Florida and take the time to get to Biscayne.  You certainly will not be disappointed!

There are only two campgrounds in Biscayne National Park: one on Boka Chita Key and the other on Elliot Key.  They are located a bit off the coast, but definitely reachable if you have access to a boat.  Unfortunately, there isn’t any other way of getting to the campgrounds as there are no services that ferry visitors to these Keys.  If you do end up making it out there, it really is a unique experience that few people get the chance to make.

Since the campgrounds are on islands without much in the way of resources or staffing, then you’ll really have to be sure that you have what you need ahead of your arrival to the campground.  For supplies, we recommend stocking up in Homestead, FL.  This is the largest city nearby Biscayne National Park and contains all the “big box” and specialty stores you need, including camping gear and groceries.

biscayne naitonal park itinerary

Ahead of your trip, be sure to download our Biscayne National Park itinerary.  It has information on what to do in the park, what to bring and what to expect during the time of year that you choose to visit.

 

biscayne national park camping

Map of the Camping Areas in Biscayne National, courtesy of the National Park Service

 

BISCAYNE NATIONAL PARK CAMPING – BOCA CHITA KEY

Boca Chita Key:

  • Location: The Boca Chita Key Campground is located on Boca Chita Key, about 11 miles east of the Florida mainland. For most people, it takes about 45 minutes by boat to get out to Boca Chita Key.
  • Accessible via: There are boat slips at the island, which you can pay for when you arrive at the campground.
  • Reservations: None.
  • Capacity: 21 sites.
  • Electricity / Water Hookups / Dump Station: No / No / No.
  • Toilets / Showers: Flush toilets and no showers.
  • Nearby: Boca Chita Key is the smallest of the two islands for camping, and there isn’t a ton to do to keep you busy for more than an afternoon. However, it is one of the more popular islands to head to and is quite beautiful!  While you are here you should check out the lighthouse, which is 65 feet tall and has an observation deck.  The Boca Chita Trail (easy, 0.8-miles round-trip) starts right near the bathrooms in the harbor.  It passes over a bridge (usually where fish gather) and provide access to the entire island.  Swimming is not allowed in the harbor.
  • Additional details: There is no electricity, showers or freshwater available at the campground, so please plan on bringing everything you need. Once you arrive, you have to use the Scan & Pay option on the Recreation.gov mobile app to cover your marina and camping fees.  This campground is in the open, and be advised that sometimes it can be quite loud at the campground (with people playing music from their boats), particularly on the weekends even there are quiet hours.  Click here for the latest information on the Boca Chita Campground

 

BISCAYNE NATIONAL PARK CAMPING – ELLIOT KEY

Elliot Key:

  • Location: The Elliot Key Campground is located on Elliot Key, which is about 10 miles off the coast of the Florida Mainland.
  • Accessible via: There are over 30 boat slips at the island, which you can pay for when you arrive at the campground.
  • Reservations: None.
  • Capacity: Unknown, but they rarely fill up per reviews and reports.
  • Electricity / Water Hookups / Dump Station: No / No / No.
  • Toilets / Showers: Flush toilets and cold showers.
  • Nearby: The main attraction of the campground is the campground itself and just relaxing and enjoying your time here. There is the Elliot Key Loop nearby (easy, 1.1-miles) which is flat.  It is a loop trail that heads across the Key to Point Adelle before turning back in a loop.  The other adventure you can take is the Spite Trail, which is a 14-mile, round-trip trail along the old proposed highway that runs the length of the Key.  It isn’t overly exciting and very buggy, so you’ll likely only want to do part of it if you are here.  Swimming is not allowed in the harbor.
  • Additional details: Elliot Key is known for being extremely buggy, so come prepared! One issue that is commonly reported is the noise and the quiet hours that are not constantly enforced.  So, just be advised that it may be a little loud.  Click here for the latest information on the Elliot Key Campground

 

BISCAYNE NATIONAL PARK CAMPGROUNDS - GROUP CAMPING

Group camping is offered on Elliot Key.  It’s on the eastern side of the island, and requires you to hike about 0.3 miles after you park your boat.  It does require a reservation (786-335-3609). 

CAMPING NEAR BISCAYNE NATIONAL PARK

If you have access to a boat, then getting a campsite out on either Boca Chita Key or Elliot Key will not be an issue.  However, if you want to camp outside of Biscayne National Park, there aren’t a lot of options for public campgrounds.  There are a number of low-cost campgrounds in the area, but they are private and will require a bit of searching around. This site (Campendium) should get you started.

You can also consider camping in Everglades National Park, which is right nearby and only about an hour away.  If you are just planning a day trip out to Biscayne and don’t have a boat, this is a terrific option to consider.

FURTHER INFORMATION ON BISCAYNE NATIONAL PARK FROM JUST GO TRAVEL STUDIOS

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About Just Go Travel Studios

We are Amy & Pete Brahan. Very simply, we are passionate about our National Parks and Public Lands and explore them with our three kids whenever we can.

As much as we enjoy traveling, we also love sharing our knowledge and helping others create everlasting memories through our custom-made travel posters, downloadable travel itineraries and detailed blog articles.

10% of all after-tax profits are donated to the National Park Foundation.

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