• Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

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  • General

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    Bill Baggs Map

    Bill Baggs is more of a destination than just a beach, it has 2 restaurants, overnight mooring for boats, a lighthouse with a free guided tour at 10am and 1pm Thursday-Monday  (great views from the top!), fishing piers, bike rentals, nature trails, etc.  Oh yes, and in the summer it is sea turtle season- they come onto shore and lay their eggs and the Park Rangers place yellow 'crime scene' type tape around them so they are not stepped upon. Last year there were over 100 nests on the beach.

    Admission: $8 per car or $4 if only one person in car $2.00 for walkers or bikers. Open from dawn until dusk, except for the restaurant in No Name Harbor that closes late.

    One of the first things you should know about this Park is that it is natural.  Over 2 decades ago, when Hurricane Andrew devastated South Florida, the state made a bold choice. They closed the park and restored the native plant communities and removed non- natives. It was closed for over a year and a half to make this change, and they proudly continue to make it natural. Walking/biking/blading/driving through the Park is like going back in time 200 years before people moved to Florida with his/her cactus or oak tree to plant from home. Now instead of Australian pines, you can enjoy mangrove forests and maritime hammocks. Because of this, depending upon the season, you might see more than 50 butterfly species and 170 bird species in the park

     


  • Beach

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    For the past 14 years this beach has been chosen by 'Dr. Beach' as being one of the top ten beaches in America (#7 in 2014). When you consider how many beaches there are on the East and West coasts along with Hawaii, well, perhaps you'll agree it is something special.

    The Beach...because it is natural, they do not remove seaweed. This is the biggest factor to be aware of.  The beach is not dirty, the seaweed actually cleans the water. When it breaks off and comes ashore,  it helps keep the sand in place when it decomposes. Key Biscayne's waters are fairly protected and there is not much 'wave' action- in other words, leave the surfboard at home.

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    There are no lifeguards, but the beach is known as a very safe beach suitable for young children.

    The beach is continuous, and if you want to be where the action is, park your car near the Lighthouse Café, the restaurant next to the beach, that many locals also frequent. Changing rooms and showers are adjacent to the walkway to the beach. The concession stand that rents umbrellas, chairs, stand-up paddleboards Single person kayaks or hydro-bikes, Double kayaks and double hydro-bikes  and  Paddleboards and other non-motorized water sports items is located immediately to the left on the beach.

    On the other hand, if you are looking for your own peaceful piece of sand, park your car as close to the ranger station at the entrance as possible, and you will find more seagulls than people.


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    Most of the beach entrances  are wooden walkways to help preserve the sea oats and other protected species of foliage.

    Many people would like to snorkel when they come here, and you can, but it is a different kind of snorkeling. There are no coral reefs off Key Biscayne that you can reach safely from the beach - they are too far out to swim to and located in the boating zone which could be a huge problem unless you come with a dive flag and buoy. If you are a good swimmer, there are some rocks with 'pretty' fish near the lighthouse, but you need to take in consideration the tide, waves and the fact you could be drawn into the rocks and hurt.  The safe snorkeling will let you see seahorses in the grass, baby queen conch, spotted rays and all sorts of minnows.  Hubby claims to have a pet mullet that follows him around whenever he's walking  along the water's edge...maybe you'll also find a fine, finny pet for the day.


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    The Lighthouse

    Open for tours at 10am and 1pm on Thursday-Monday.

    The lighthouse is the oldest building in South Florida, built in 1825 to serve as a navigational aid.

    It is 109 steps to the top of the lighthouse, but you will be rewarded with a view that makes the climb worthwhile. The steps are weatherproof- meaning that they expand and contact and have some “give” in them to help them survive as long as the lighthouse itself. So don’t be concerned if you think the stairs are moving- they might be- moving as far as an inch…

     


  • Lighthouse History

    Bill Baggs Lighthouse HistoryThis is the second lighthouse erected in this spot. The first lighthouse’s construction contract called for a 65-foot-tall (20 m) tower with walls of solid brick, five feet thick at the bottom tapering to two feet thick at the top. It was later found that the contractor had scrimped on materials and built hollow walls. 

    On July 23, 1836, a band of Seminole attacked the lighthouse. After dark, the raiders approached the tower, setting fire to the door and a boarded-up window at ground level. Rifle balls had penetrated tanks in the bottom of the tower, which held 225 gallons of lamp oil for the light, and the oil caught fire. 

  • Sure that he was going to die and wanting a quick end, the assistant lighthouse keeper threw the gunpowder keg down the inside of the tower. The keg exploded, but did not topple the tower. It dampened the fire briefly, but the flames soon returned as fierce as ever before dying down. One of the defenders died in the attack, the other taken to a hospital in Key West to recover from his wounds.

    Bill Baggs Lighthouse HistoryThe Cape Florida Light was extinguished from 1836 to 1846. In 1846 a contract was let to rebuild the lighthouse and the keeper's dwelling. The contractor was permitted to reuse the old bricks from the original tower and house. New bricks were also sent from Massachusetts. The contract went to the low bidder at US$7,995. The lighthouse was completed and re-lit in April, 1847

    In an 1855 renovation, the tower was raised to 95 feet (29 m), to extend the reach of the light beyond the off-shore reefs. 

    In 1978, the Coast Guard restored the lighthouse to active service, one hundred years after it was decommissioned. An automated light was installed in the tower to serve as a navigational aide, particularly to help boaters find the Florida Channel at night.. After twelve years of service, the light was decommissioned by the Coast Guard in 1990.

    A joint project with the Dade County Historical Society in 1995-1996 restored the lighthouse. A museum was installed in a replica of the keeper's quarters, to give visitors a sense of the maritime history of Florida.



  • Lighthouse Brick Program

    Dade Heritage Trust is Miami Dade’s largest historic preservation non-profit organization that spearheaded the effort to restore the Lighthouse in 1996.  To help maintain the Cape Florida Lighthouse and preserve our community’s heritage, Dade Heritage Trust offers for a donation of $150. The commemorative red brick pavers, engraved with the wording of your choice will be installed along the walkways of the Lighthouse Complex. The bricks are beautiful symbols of your preservation commitment and make lasting gifts for anniversaries, birthdays and vacation memories. For more information call Dade Heritage Trust at 305.358.9572 or email info@dadeheritagetrust.org


  • Underground Railroad

    Bill Baggs Underground RailroadCape Florida was designated as  part of the National Underground Railroad to Freedom in 2004. In the early 1820’s, enslaved Africians, runaways and Black Seminoles sought freedom on Key Biscayne. They met with bold captains of sloops from the British Bahamas who offered transportation across the gulfstream. In 1821 some 300 freedom seekers bartered for passage aboard 27 sloops, or chose to sail Indian dugout canoes the 107 nautical miles to Andros island in the Bahamas. The construction of the lighthouse by the federal government in 1825 effectively blocked the escape route.



  • Big Baggs Bikes Trails & Rentals

    Bikes Trails & Rentals

    The park has a paved bike path approximately 1.5-miles long and unpaved service roads where you can enjoy easy cycling. You can easily ride a few miles in a loop by routing through the various paths and roadways. The terrain is completely flat. Some paths will take you beneath the trees, and others offer views of Biscayne Bay. You can rent individual bikes or quad bikes from the park's concession located a few steps from the Lighthouse Cafe. Bicycle Rentals  include Cruiser bicycles, English bikes, Quad bikes seat 4 & Large quads that seat 4 + 2 small children.


  • Nature Trails

    Big Baggs Nature TrailsMiles of nature trails await you in this State Park-what more can we say?



  • Weddings

    You can get married in Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. You will need to apply at the office, a short recap of minimum cost is  -$500+tax plus an ranger at $30 an hour, 3 hour minimum in the lighthouse compound or beach  if you want more information call 305.361.5811  listen to #4 on the recording.


  • Bird Watching

    Big Baggs Bird WatchingThe Audubon Society considers this State Park one of the top ten places in America for migratory bird watching. Fall migration is mid-August until end of October, spring migration is late March until mid-May, and winter has mixed flocks. Check with the Tropical Audubon Society to find out when they have scheduled field trips as they conduct bird walks during fall and spring migration. http://tropicalaudubon.org/events.html



  • Fishing Piers

    Bill Braggs Fishing PiersIf you bring your own fishing poles and have a state of Florida Salt Water Fishing license, there are plenty of areas for you to fish on the Bay side, along the sea walls and designated fishing areas.

    Saltwater fishing is regulated by the  Florida Fish and Wildlife
    Conservation Commission.
    You can find out the rules before you come and even buy a fishing license online at http://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/online



  • Dog Policy

    Dogs are allowed in the State Park on a leash, but not on the Beach or water. Insider’s Tip: You can go swimming with your dog on the way to Key Biscayne by stopping on the Rickenbacher Causeway before the Miami Seaquarium. This is the only beach in Miami that allows our four-legged friends to legally swim.


  • When to Go!

    Open 365 days a year, dawn to dusk.