Biscayne National Park | ELLIOTT KEY

Elliott Key in Biscayne National Park

Elliott Key in Biscayne National Park


Harbor and Boat Dock

Picnic Area

Elliott Key Loop Trail

Spite Highway Trail

Elliott Key is the largest of the three tourist-friendly islands at Biscayne National Park, though the developed area is no bigger than those on Adams and Boca Chita Key. It has a harbor and boat dock that allows overnight stays, a campground, a picnic area, and two hiking trails. It is not nearly as crowded as Boca Chita Key, which draws the Miami party crowd, and it is much more family oriented. When I visited on a Thursday in early March there were only a few boats in the harbor, while the harbor at Boca Chita Key was 60% full. One of the volunteers who works on the island told me that she has never seen the 32 boat slips fill up, which is partially due to the shallow mouth into the harbor—5′ draft at high tide, 2.5′ at low tide—that prevents many of the larger boats from visiting (larger boats can dock at Boca Chita Key).

The first thing you will notice when you arrive at the island is a large field. This is not the campground but a recreation field that doubles as a helicopter landing pad that must be kept open in case of emergency. The camping area is on the north side of the harbor, and though there are official sites, you can pitch a tent anywhere in the general camping area as long as it is not on the field. The large building on the property is a former visitor center, but due to budget cuts it is no longer staffed and is now used only as a classroom for school field trips.

Restroom (right) and former visitor center (left) on Biscayne National Park's Elliott Key

Restroom (right) and former visitor center (left) on Biscayne National Park’s Elliott Key

A small area of shoreline is kept clear to allow access to the water for swimming. No lifeguards are on duty, so swim at your own risk.

Swimming area at Elliott Key in Biscayne National Park

Swimming area at Elliott Key in Biscayne National Park

There is fresh water on the island, including drinking water, cold water showers, and flush toilets in the restrooms. There are no showers on Boca Chita Key where the party animals stay, but things are a little more civilized here on the family-friendly Elliott Key. I don’t recall if there is electricity in the restrooms, but for sure there is none available for general use in the campground or on the dock.

I visited in early March and the mosquitoes were already bothersome, though not burdensome. They do tend to go away during the day in the open areas once things heat up, but they are around 24-7 in the surrounding maritime forest. At night they come back out in force, so you’ll need either insect repellent or clothing for protection. A park employee told me that by the end of April you won’t be able to function on any of the islands without full mosquito suits, which all employees wear. I am not sure how bad they are in the dead of winter, but the Biscayne National Park website claims they are year-round pests. I was also told that gnats and biting flies will soon join the party.

This is a trash free island, meaning that you must take your garbage with you. Also, unlike on Boca Chita Key, pets are permitted if kept on a leash; they may not be left unattended.

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Last updated on November 1, 2023
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