Florida is home to some of the most beautiful national parks in America. And if water is your thing, you should feel right at home here! The national parks of the Sunshine State are ‘water parks’ and the best way to explore them is by boat, seaplane or underwater. These parks are great places to experience marine life in their natural environment. They also allow you to discover the diverse coastal wilderness of this part of the United States. So, if you are ready for a wet and wild time, here are some of the best National Parks in Florida.
1. Biscayne National Park
Biscayne National Park is located between the Everglades and Miami. The park is 95 per cent water and its landscape is comprised of four different ecosystems; Biscayne Bay, the Florida reef, shoreline mangrove swamp and coral-clad keys. When it comes to land activities, you can while away some time in the visitor centre museum. However, as you can imagine, taking to the water is the best way to explore this watery world. Popular things to do include hiring a guide and paddle boarding through the mangroves of Jones Lagoon. You can also make your way to the top of the iconic lighthouse on Boca Chita Key. Biscayne National Park is also one of the best places to snorkel in Miami. The marine life here is incredible and you’ll spot sea turtles, dolphins, rays, tropical fish and invertebrates. This really is one of the most biodiverse parks in America.
2. Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park is situated 108km west of Key West. More than 99 per cent of the 100-square-mile national park is composed of water in the Gulf of Mexico. Seven small islands make up the rest of the area. It is here where you’ll find Fort Jefferson, a huge, unfinished coastal fortress that dates back to 1846. Located on Garden Key, this is one of the largest 19th-century forts in the United States. The watery paradise of Dry Tortugas National Park is only accessible by boat or seaplane. However, because of its remoteness, marine life and coral reefs thrive here. If you’re looking for the best places to go snorkelling in Key West, Dry Tortugas National Park tops the list. In fact, it is one of the best places to snorkel in the whole of Florida. Underwater, you’ll find kaleidoscopic corals, colourful fish, starfish and queen conches.
3. Everglades National Park
The Everglades is a region of tropical wetlands in southern Florida. It is a unique ecosystem that you can’t find anywhere else on Earth. The Everglades National Park protects the southern twenty per cent of the Everglades. This area is an important habitat for many rare and endangered species. For instance, the manatee, American crocodile and Florida panther call this area home. Just how important is this area? Well, UNESCO deemed it a World Heritage Site. It is also an International Biosphere Reserve and a Wetland of International Importance. Oh, and it is a specially protected area under the Cartagena Treaty. The Everglades National Park spans over 1.5 million acres and is the largest tropical wilderness in America and the largest wilderness of any kind east of the Mississippi River. It is the tenth-largest national park in the U.S. There is quite an array of things to do on a visit to the Everglades, for instance, wildlife and bird watching tours, boat tours and hiking opportunities. Kayaking and canoeing are wonderful ways to explore this watery world.