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Key Biscayne has two Beaches that are both award winning. Many people wonder which one to go to and if you are short on time, perhaps this information can help you choose. Bill Baggs is more of a destination than just a beach, it has 2 restaurants, overnight mooring for boats, a lighthouse with a free guided tour at 10am and 1pm Wednesday-Sunday (great views from the top!), fishing piers, bike rentals, nature trails, etc. Oh yes, and in the summer it is sea turtle season- they come onto shore and lay their eggs and the Park Rangers place yellow "crime scene" type tape around them so they are not stepped upon. Last year there were over 100 nests on the beach.
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park will cost you $8.00 to enter with a car full of people for the day, the same as any Florida State Park. For the past 14 years it has been chosen by "Dr. Beach" as being one of the top ten beaches in America (#7 in 2014). When you consider how many beaches there are on the East and West coasts along with Hawaii, well, perhaps you'll agree it is something special.
One of the first things you should know about this Park is that it is natural. Twenty-two ago when Hurricane Andrew devastated the Park, they made a bold choice and decided to close and restore the native plant communities and remove non- natives. It took over a year and a half to make this change, and they proudly continue to make it natural. Walking/biking/blading/driving through the Park is like going back in time 200 years before people moved to Florida with his/her cactus or oak tree to plant from home. Now instead of Australian pines, you can enjoy mangrove forests and maritime hammocks. Because of this, depending upon the season, you might see more than 50 butterfly species and 170 bird species in the park.
The Beach...because it is natural, they do not remove seaweed. This is the biggest factor to be aware of when choosing which beach is best for you. The beach is not dirty, the seaweed actually cleans the water. When it breaks off and comes ashore, it helps keep the sand in place when it decomposes. Key Biscayne's waters are fairly protected and there is not much "wave" action- in other words, leave the surfboard at home. It is known as a very safe beach suitable for young children. There is a concession stand for non-motorized watersports, beach chairs and umbrellas.
Many people would like to snorkel when they come here, and you can, but it is a different kind of snorkeling. There are no coral reefs off Key Biscayne that you can reach safely from the beach - they are too far out to swim to and located in the boating zone which could be a huge problem unless you come with a dive flag and buoy. If you are a good swimmer, there are some rocks with "pretty" fish near the lighthouse, but you need to take in consideration the tide, waves and the fact you could be drawn into the rocks and hurt. The safe snorkeling will let you see seahorses in the grass, baby queen conch, spotted rays and all sorts of minnows. Hubby claims to have a pet mullet that follows him around whenever he's walking along the water's edge...maybe you'll also find a fine, finny pet for the day.