Besides campsites, there are no facilities available for overnight guests to this watery park. Most noncamping visitors come for an afternoon, on their way to the Keys, and stay overnight in nearby Homestead, where there are many national chain hotels and other affordable lodgings.
Although you won't find hotels or lodges in Biscayne National Park, it does have some of the state's most pristine campsites. Because they are inaccessible by motor vehicle, you'll be sure to avoid the mass of RVs so prevalent in many of the state's other campgrounds. The sites on Elliott Key and Boca Chita can be reached only by boat. If you don't have your own boat, call tel. 305/230-1100 to arrange a drop-off. Transportation to Elliott Key from the visitor center costs $50 (plus tax). They do not provide transportation to Boca Chita, so you'll have to rent a boat. Boca Chita has only saltwater toilets (no showers or sinks); Elliot Key has freshwater, cold-water showers and toilets, but is otherwise no less primitive. If you didn't pay for the overnight docking fee, campsites are $15.
With a backcountry permit, available free from the visitor center, you can pitch your tent somewhere even more private. Ask for a map and be sure to bring plenty of bug spray. Sites cost $15 a night for up to six persons staying in one or two tents. Backcountry camping is allowed only on Elliott Key, which is a very popular spot (accessible only by boat) for boaters and campers. It is approximately 9 miles from the Dante Fascell Visitor Center and offers hiking trails, fresh water, boat slips, showers, and restrooms. While there, don't miss the Old Road, a 7-mile tropical hammock trail that runs the length of Elliott Key. This trail is one of the few places left in the world to see the highly endangered Schaus swallowtail butterfly, recognizable by its black wings with diagonal yellow bands. These butterflies are usually out from late April to July.
Miami's boat enthusiasts have an affinity for it because of its kitschy, offbeat nature, but what most of them don't know is that Stiltsville isn't their forbidden watery playground but a part of Biscayne National Park. So what is it, exactly? Floating above Biscayne Bay are seven cottage-like buildings built on, yes, stilts. And as funky as it looks, its history is even funkier, dating back to the 1930s. Because it's accessible only by water, Stiltsville was the place to see and be seen back in the day -- especially if you were involved in illegal gambling, rum running, or assorted forbidden activities. In fact, police raids were common back then, when the Stiltsville structures had titillating names such as the Bikini Club. At it's peak, no pun intended, Stiltsville boasted 27 structures. Unfortunately today that's not the case. But in 2003, a nonprofit organization called the Stiltsville Trust was created to preserve and rehabilitate the ramshackle buildings, which the public is prohibited from touching. But despite the NO TRESPASSING signs and true to its original reputation as haven for all things forbidden, boaters to this day throw illegal parties here. If you see one in the works, however, don't even think about it, just take a picture and keep boating.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.