This article has everything you need to know about Florida Keys State parks. Let’s begin the exploration!
The Florida State Parks are a tropical archipelago near the southernmost tip of USA’s Florida. Consisting of nearly 1,700 tiny islands, all the keys looking like a string, stretched between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Florida does have a few islands like Dry Tortugas, Stock Island, and Anna Maria Island, but the majority of the archipelago consists of keys made of coral reefs by natural means.
The Keys are classified based on distance from the mainland. The group of keys situated in the north is known as the Upper Keys, with Key Largo being the first island in the entire archipelago. The group of islands and keys down south are known as the Middle Keys, and below them are the Lower keys. The Outer Keys are the keys that are situated far away from the group of islands and can be traveled only by boat.
Florida Keys State Parks: 6 Remarkable Florida State Parks (With Insider Tips)
Florida State Parks are a must-visit. Here’s the list of the remarkable state parks in the Florida Keys with a detailed review:
1. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo MM 102.5
John Pennekamp Coral Reef state park is situated on the first island of the Florida Keys, Key Largo. The first underwater park in the United States of America, the park is historically known as built to save wildlife and coral life.
This Florida State Park’s main attraction is the underwater playground, which gives one a chance to experience marine life. The nine feet statue of Christ made of bronze situated deep inside the water, known as the ‘Christ of the Deep’( or Christ of the Abyss), is a sight to behold while you snorkel.
1.1. Best Time to Visit
Spring season would be the best time to visit the state park as there would be less rain, no humidity, and better conditions for snorkeling.
1.2. Things to Do
Snorkeling, Scuba diving, Glass bottom boat tour, Kayaking, visiting scenic beaches, coral reef tour, visiting the statue of Christ the Deep.
1.3. Tips to Note
Visiting the park from September to May would be cost-efficient as the hotel rates drop and there will be less crowd at the time.
Get a SCUBA certificate in advance and go scuba diving to enhance your experience.
2. Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park, Key Largo, MM 106
A tropical paradise in the center of Key Largo, the Dagny Johnson Botanical Park is built to protect the wildlife of the island. Unlike other state parks in Florida with underwater traveling, snorkeling, and kayaking, the Dagny Johnson Botanical State Park offers overland forest adventures and an enthusiastic experience of sightseeing the wildlife.
2.1. Best Time to Visit
The park is open all around the year and can be visited at any time of the year. Visiting during sunrise or after sunset would be the best.
2.2. Things to Do
Bicycling through the beautiful trails, sightseeing the variety of rare species protected in the park, photography in beautiful backdrops of the garden, and birdwatching.
2.3. Tips to Note
Carry mosquito repellent cream as there is a mosquito problem in Key Largo. There is limited access to car parking, so plan your travel according to that. Pets are supposed to be on a leash when visiting the trails.
3. Indian Key Historic State Park
Earlier an abandoned island, the Indian Key Historic Park is now a popular destination for tourists to visit the ruins of historic building foundations. This Florida State Parks is accessible only by boat. Tourists usually visit this place for swimming, kayaking, snorkeling excursions, and picnicking.
3.1. Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit the state park is during the spring season.
3.2. Things to Do
- Swimming around the shore, snorkeling, kayaking, and scuba diving are some of the activities you can partake in.
- Get picnic tables to relax in the calm environment and experience the balmy sea breezes.
- Bring a fishing rod and other pieces of equipment with you, as this is the best place in the keys for fishing.
3.3. Tips to Note
Be cautious while swimming around the shores in Islamorada as there are no lifeguards around.
No pets are allowed inside the park.
4. Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park, Islamorada, MM 77.2
Known for its flora and fauna, the state park located on 280-acre land on Lignumvitae Key is flocked by park visitors for walking tours. One can reach the key only through a boat. As the name suggests, the island is covered in Lignum vitae, also known as the ‘Tree Of Life’. A family had ownership of the key a few centuries ago, with their house on the tiny island still standing today.
4.1. Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit the state park is during the winter season. A day with light winds is usually safe.
4.2. Things to Do
Walking tours in the state park, sightseeing the rare and endangered island’s plants, insects, and animals.
4.3. Tips to Note:
- Wear light clothes and a hat, if you are visiting during the summer season.
- Carry a sunscreen lotion to protect your skin from damage due to UV rays.
- Be careful and carry a mosquito repellent cream when visiting the island.
5. Bahia Honda State Park, Big Pine Key, MM 37
The Bahia Honda State Park consists of an award-winning beach and is famous for its beautiful scenery, sea turtle sands, and glistening sea waters. One of the most popular destinations in the Florida Keys, the state park gets busy all around the year. Tourists usually flock here to see the hatchling of sea turtles, for camping and recreation.
5.1. Best Time to Visit
March to December is the best time to visit the Bahia Honda State Park. Consider getting to the park before 9 am, as it gets very crowded during the afternoon time.
5.2. Things to Do
Sightseeing the wildlife, snorkeling gear, hiking, stargazing, birdwatching, picnicking, and scuba diving and fishing are some exciting things to look out for in Bahia Honda state park.
5.3. Tips to Note
Pets are allowed in the park, but they must be leashed.
Camping is not allowed in certain sites of Florida State Parks, so make sure to camp only in sites meant for it.
6. Curry Hammock State Park, Marathon, MM 56.2
Situated in the Middle Keys between Key Largo and Key West, the Curry Hammock state park consisting of playgrounds, canopies, and picnic tables, is the perfect destination for outings and recreation. The park has a rich heritage of wildlife and rare endangered birds. Barbeque grills are available in certain picnic spots. Fishing and canoeing are some of the popular activities here.
6.1. Best Time to Visit
The park is open all days of the year, but November to May is the appropriate time to visit, as the camping ground is accessible only during this time.
6.2. Things to Do
Fishing, canoeing, swimming, kayaking, camping, picnicking, birdwatching, and walking around the mangroves and wetlands.
6.3. Tips to Note
Make reservations a month in advance to secure your place.
Get a fishing rod and other equipment along with you, as fishing is not prohibited here.
In the End
There are more than 150 state parks and 9 reserves in the Florida State Parks and it’s not possible to explore all the places in one go. However, you can definitely take out some time to visit some of them. Besides the above-mentioned Florida State Parks, you can also check out the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park which are popular for its vent having salt contents. USA Tales has created this sublime list of the most popular and sought-out destinations for one to explore. Above is the video provided to know more about Florida Keys state parks.
(All the information given is accurate, and the condition of the places mentioned in the article may vary with time).
Read more on Florida, here.
Also read: Things to Do in Islamorada