Key Biscayne: A Fossilized Reef, Historic Lighthouse and More

By Giselle Mueller of Mandarin Oriental, Miami
September 15, 2012 | Miami, United States
Key Biscayne: A Fossilized Reef, Historic Lighthouse and More
SMWalton73, Flickr

South of Miami Beach is a barrier island called Key Biscayne with acres and acres of shorefront parkland, not to mention beautiful beaches, which makes it a particularly fun place for families.

You have a menu of watersports available, from kite surfing to parasailing and paddle boarding. (Rental operators are located right at the base of the bridge as you come onto Key Biscayne.)

But there’s plenty more to see and do. Here are a few highlights:

Virginia Key Beach Park
Following the causeway from the mainland to Key Biscayne, you’ll cross Virginia Key, home to its own park (Virginia Key Beach Park) and a poignant history. Once accessible only by boat, in the mid 20th century, the key had Miami’s only public beach for African Americans. You can still visit the antique carousel and the Art Deco bathhouses.

Bear Cut Preserve in Crandon Park
Inside Crandon Park on Key Biscayne is the Bear Cut Preserve, where you can check out a fossilized reef. Believed to be the remains of long-dead mangroves, the reef attracts a ton of wildlife like spotted eagle rays and sea cucumbers.

Rent a kayak or go snorkeling for a closer look (guided eco-tours are also available), or stroll the mangrove boardwalk that overlooks the reef.

Bill Baggs State Park
While Crandon Park is at the northern end of Key Biscayne, Bill Baggs covers the southern end. Its sandy, Atlantic-facing beachfront has been ranked among America’s top beaches. But you can’t miss the historic lighthouse built in 1825 (and reconstructed in 1846 after a fire). It’s the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade County, and one of the oldest still-functioning lighthouses on the eastern seaboard. You can visit on your own or take a guided tour.