Elliott Key Harbor and Campground Closed
Winds, surge and tides associated with Hurricane Sandy caused considerable damage to docks & boardwalk at Elliott Key. The harbor and campground are closed until further notice. University Dock remains open for day use only. More »
Maritime Heritage Trail
Biscayne National Park's Maritime Heritage Trail offers an exciting opportunity to explore the remains of some of the park's many shipwrecks. Six wrecks, spanning nearly a century and a wide variety of sizes and vessel types, have been mapped, brochures have been produced and mooring buoys have been installed. The newest addition to the trail is the Fowey Rocks Lighthouse. Snorkeling is great around the base of the light, but the structure itself is not open to the public.
Access to the sites on the trail is by boat only. Erl King, Alicia and Lugano are best suited to SCUBA divers, while the other sites can easily be enjoyed while snorkeling. Mandalay in particular offers an unparalleled opportunity for snorkelers to experience a shipwreck in a beautiful natural setting.
Ranger-guided snorkel trips to selected sites on the Trail were a huge hit in the summer of 2011, and we hope the park's concessioner will someday offer them again in the future.
Click on the links below to learn about each of the sites on the Maritime Heritage Trail.
Little is known of this wreck that consists almost entirely of basalt ballast stones.
Arratoon Apcar as she appears today.
In the 1870s, Cape Florida Lighthouse was considered inadequate because of its distance from the reef line. When Arratoon Apcar ran aground, it did so just a few hundred yards from where workers were busy building the Fowey Rocks Lighthouse.
The newest addition to the Maritime Heritage Trail is also a departure from the shipwreck theme. Built in 1878, the Fowey Rocks Lighthouse has witnessed decades of storms and wrecks, and is known as the "Eye of Miami."
<i>Erl King</i> under sail.
Erl King reflects the early period of transition from wooden sailing vessels to steel steamships.
Wreckers work the <i>Alicia</i>.
Alicia was laden with silks, silverware, and other fine household items when it ran aground on Long Reef. The ensuing, often violent battles among the 70 different groups of wreckers led to a permanent rewriting of U.S. salvage laws.
<i>Lugano</i> founders on Long Reef.
At the time of its grounding, Lugano had been the largest vessel ever to wreck in the Florida Keys.
The schooner <i>Mandalay</i> under sail.
The steel-hulled schooner Mandalay was known as the “Red Carpet Ship of the Windjammer Fleet” and was outfitted with a teak and mahogany deck.
Can't Get Enough Maritime History?
Visit the National Park Service's Maritime Heritage Program's website to learn about other efforts to protect America's seafaring history.
Did You Know?
Elliott Key and other islands in Biscayne National Park were settled under the Homestead Act of 1862. This law gave free land to settlers willing to live on and farm a piece of land for five years. The main crops planted here were pineapples and key limes.