Elliott Key is the largest island in Biscayne National Park. It sits south of Boca Chita Key and north of Adams Key and Old Rhodes Key. Elliott Key has a ranger station, dock, campground, water, restrooms and hiking trails. The main hiking trail is 7 miles north to south across the island. Elliott Key is known for having horrendous mosquitoes in the summer.
The island was once a community pursuing pineapple farming and other pursuits. It is the northernmost of the true Florida Keys. The Florida Keys stretch southeast to Key West – a series of islands between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico running for around 120 miles.
The seven mile hiking trail on Elliott Key, the longest in the park, was cleared in the 1960s when developers cleared the land for the path (called Spite Highway) for three weeks to facilitate development on the island while opposing the preservation efforts. Biscayne National Monument was established by President Lyndon B. Johnson in October 1968.
The only way to reach Elliott Key is by private boat. The park concessionaire does not currently provide access to the island. The marina has 36 slips. At low tide, the harbor is just 2.5 feet.
The Biscayne National Park Institute brings people to the water for snorkeling in the waters around the island. We went snorkeling near Billys Point off Elliott Key. We worked our way down the shoreline near the mangroves and were able to see plenty of fish as well as the underwater portion of the complex mangrove root systems. We had a great time snorkeling off the island.
We had our GoPro Fusion with us so we captured some great 360 degree video while swimming in the water with the fish as well as exploring the mangroves. We also obtained a great story as the GoPro was dropped and sunk to the bottom of the bay just as we were getting off the boat and needed to be retrieved. Fortunately, the water was only 7-8 feet deep at the time and it had a bright yellow handle which made it easier to locate.
The Elliott Key Campground is located on the Biscayne Bay side of the island. There is fresh water available outside the building for the restrooms, but campers are recommended to bring their own water in case the generator is down. Cold water showers are available, but there have been reports that cleanliness may vary. Camping is free in the summer when the mosquitos are at their worst.
There is a beach near the campground north of the harbor. There is also a one mile loop trail for hiking starting near the campground.
There is a group campsite on the ocean side of Elliott Key about a third of a mile from the main campground and restrooms.