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tree in front of the ocean at Indian Key Historic State Park

While there are few Florida state parks that can only be accessed by boat, one of the best of them has to be Indian Key Historic State Park.

Located within the Florida Keys, the park is just a short paddle from Islamorada. However, it contains a landscape that has changed little in the last 200 years.

Back in 1836, Indian Key actually became Dade County’s first county seat. Prior to that it was home to a town that prospered on salvaged shipwrecked cargo which was subsequently sold to others.

Now a ghost town, the main attraction of the park is that it is a place where people come to rest and relax. With several activities like swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing and hiking all being popular there.

Although it is just a few hundred yards from US 1, if you want to escape the pace of city life and immerse yourself in nature for a while, this is an excellent place in which to do just that.


Visitors to the park can enjoy its peaceful surroundings and tranquil scenery in several ways.

Here is some further information about what activities you can engage in while you are there.

Boating at Indian Key Historic State Park

The best way to get to the park is via a water vessel.

If you don’t have one of your own you can rent powerboats, as well as canoes and kayaks from several marinas along the Florida Keys. A popular outlet in which to hire one is ‘Robbie’s Marina’.

As the channels feature plenty of shallow grass flats you should only hire a powerboat if you have a good knowledge of them.

That said, you should have no problem floating across them in a kayak or a canoe.

Swimming, Scuba Diving and Snorkeling at Indian Key Historic State Park

For those who want to partake in swimming, scuba diving or snorkeling you will be able to do this on your visit to the park.

Most people swim around the shore of Indian Key. However, as the area is not lifeguarded, they do this at their own risk.

Many local charters run ecotours which incorporate stops at the island for snorkeling and scuba diving. This takes place at the reef and in the surrounding areas of the island.

At all times, a ‘Diver Down’ flag must be displayed, as per Florida state law when scuba diving and snorkeling.

These activities must also be conducted a minimum of 100 feet from the closest dock. When engaging in them, you should get to see several shipwrecks and species of marine life.

an aerial photograph of Indian Key Historic State Park

Fishing at Indian Key Historic State Park

The park is a popular destination for anglers, attracting enthusiasts from all over Florida to its fertile waters.

When fishing you may need a license and to abide by the rules and regulations of the Florida Wildlife Commission. You will also have to refrain from casting a line within 100 feet of the dock.

However, once you have found a good place to fish, you will be able to catch plenty of bonefish within the flats and tarpon around the channels.

You should have no trouble snaring snook, snapper and Spanish mackerel as well.

Walking tours at Indian Key Historic State Park

The island has a fascinating street system that has been recreated to give visitors an appreciation of what life used to be like on it.

A very informative, interpretive trail, it guides you through the historic and enchanting ghost town of Indian Key.

As well as self-guided tours, you can also choose to partake in a fascinating ranger-led tour.

Led by an expert guide who has an in-depth knowledge of the area, as well as the history of the now defunct town, you will be able to ask them any question you want about the park and the once thriving community.

Birding at Indian Key Historic State Park

It is worth bringing your binoculars to the park if you are into birding as you might spot several species.

All year round, and especially during the migratory seasons, the Florida Keys accommodates a number of different breeds.

These include the likes of frigatebirds, great egrets, ospreys and anhingas, all of which you might just see whilst at Indian Key Historic State Park.

Nature & Wildlife

The park is a critical habitat for several marine species.

A visit to the park provides you with exceptional opportunities to spot a range of aquatic animals including dolphins, sharks, manatees and stingrays within their natural habitat.

Pets at Indian Key Historic State Park

Unfortunately, pets are not allowed at the park.

So you will need to leave your pooch at home if you want to pay a visit to Indian Key Historic State Park.

To find out more details about their pet policy, please contact the park’s main office.

Camping at Indian Key Historic State Park

While there are no camping facilities directly at the park, there are several other campgrounds you can choose to stay at throughout the Florida Keys.

Some of the ones in close proximity to Indian Key Historic State Park are Curry Hammock State Park, Bahia Honda State Park and Grassy Key RV Park & Resort.

Between them they offer a wide range of accommodation options. This includes everything from RV and trailer sites that have full hookups for water, sewer and electricity, to more rustic tent sites where you will have to take everything you need in with you, as well as out too.

Depending on where you choose to stay, amenities at the park could include flush toilets and hot showers, laundry, a swimming pool, playground, dump station and convenience store.

Park Location

Indian Key Historic State Park
Indian Key State Historic Site Outstanding Florida Water,
Overseas Hwy, Islamorada, FL 33036
Phone: 305.664.2540

Park Website



Here is a short YouTube video with some aerial footage of Indian Key Historic State Park: