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America’s wild spaces - Part 10 - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Travelling

BISCAYNE is in the state of Florida and has an area of 700 sq km.

This is the place to go for boating, snorkelling and dolphins, it was created in 1980.

Been to Florida a lot but not seen this park? That’s because 95% of Biscayne National Park is underwater, so hiking and biking options are limited. To properly appreciate this protected mass of mangrove, coral limestone keys, offshore reef and 500 plus species of fish, you ideally need to explore by boat or swimming. The park concessioner offers boat options include glass-bottom boat trips and dive/snorkel excursions and canoe or kayak rentals. The Convoy Point area which is the location of park HQ offers a variety of land-based and indoor opportunities, so check the Schedule of Events. Even from the land, you can still appreciate the vast mangrove forest which is the longest stretch on the east coast and the clear, shallow waters of Biscayne Bay. When you go make a beeline for the unique Maritime Heritage Trail, a snorkel tour that explores the remains of six shipwrecks.

The park is open year-round with guided canoe trips being run from January to April. This is also the best time for camping as there are fewer insects. Convoy Point is 50km south of Miami. Why not combine a trip to Biscayne with the Everglades and the Florida Keys. Or plan an East Coast epic, riding the Amtrak Silver Service train from New York to Miami, via Washington DC, Charleston, Savannah, Jacksonville and Orlando, before hitting Biscayne itself.

AMERICAN SAMOA state park is in the TERRITORY of American Samoa it has an area of 55 sq km and was created in 1988.

This is the place to go for Polynesia, marine life and paradise.

The park spans three south-west Pacific islands, Tutuila, Ofu and Ta’u. The National Park of American Samoa is the only US park that lies south of the equator. The emphasis here is on protecting Polynesian culture as well as the mountainous volcanic rainforest and reef laced, landscapes. Access is time-consuming and facilities are limited, as you’ll need to bring your own snorkel/ dive gear, but the rewards are pristine corals, over 950 species of fish plus whales and green turtles. If you want the best cultural interaction, use the park’s homestay programme where you sleep in a traditional fale guesthouse, eat Samoan specialities, catch fish and learn to weave mats from pandanus leaves.

Unless you are a dedicated explorer most people are not in the position to visit here. One of the simpler ways is on a cruise ship that is doing a Pacific transit which is how we had a very short visit. However, you can fly in with Hawaiian Airlines direct to American Samoa’s Tutuila Island from Honolulu.

The park is open year-round but May to September is the driest period and Humpbacks may be seen August-November.

That concludes America’s wild spaces, as I said at the start, not necessarily the definitive list, but certainly places of interest.

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