Camping in Biscayne National Park is a unique experience because the only way to reach the campgrounds is by sea. So to reach the campground on Elliot Key you need to own a boat, pay for the ferry from the mainland, or have incredible swimming skills. I chose the ferry option and took a 20ish minute boat ride to Elliot Key (also when they say ferry don’t expect anything fancy. It’s a small motorboat with a shark painted on the side). The camping area is small with picnic tables. There is a small visitors center that was closed when I visited and looked like it hadn’t been used in a while. There is also a bathroom with running water! Most of the island is forest with a trail system running throughout. At the moment the trails are mostly inaccessible because of recent hurricanes. On a weekday night you will likely have the whole place to yourself! However there isn’t much to do on Elliot Key unless you have a boat. The Biscayne National Park Institute charges a small fee to bring your kayak along and when I get the chance to go back I will for sure do that! I would love to kayak around the island and snorkel at the reefs (something that costs a lot of money to be ferried to). Most of Biscayne is underwater but even if you don’t have access to snorkel gear and a boat it can still be a relaxing camping trip on an island to yourself (unless it’s a weekend). Just be sure to bring bug spray!
To camp at Elliot Key it is $25 to dock your boat and a tent site.
If you don’t have a boat like me then you will have to pay the ferry fee of $59 per person (kinda pricey) plus a $15 dollar camping fee.
All docking/camping fees are waived from May 1st to September 30th.
Thanks! – Josh