Tucked away in an isolated part of the Florida Keys lies the fabulous Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park.
A place full of wonder, it features a dense terrain of rare and endangered plants, protected insects and a host of colorful birds.
One of the main draw cards of the park is a virgin tropical hardwood hammock that accommodates over 1000 lignum vitae trees. Once quite common along much of the Upper Keys, they are a rare sight to take in and you’ll definitely want to bring your camera with you to capture it on film.
Only accessible by boat, canoe or kayak, the park is a peaceful destination that offers opportunities for hiking, swimming, snorkeling, fishing and birding.
There is no camping accommodation available onsite, so this is very much a day use destination. However, throughout the keys there are several other campgrounds you can stay at. So there is no reason whatsoever why you can’t come back to this beautiful Florida state park on consecutive days.
How to get there
Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park is situated about a mile to the west of the U.S.1.
To get to it you will need to head to Mile Marker 78.5 and then venture over from one of the nearby marinas via a charter or private water vessel.
The great thing about the park is that it provides visitors with several different ways to take in its outstanding natural beauty.
Highlighted below is an overview of some of the main activities you can partake in during your time there.
Boating at Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park
Visitors can reach the island by powerboat, canoe or kayak. These can be rented out from various companies located within the Florida Keys.
One of the most popular establishments is Robbie’s Marina. It is located in Islamorada and also has a pretty nice restaurant too.
If you intend to rent a powerboat you should only do so if you have someone in your party with an extensive knowledge of the channels. This is because of the shallow grass flats that surround it. Canoes and kayaks shouldn’t have too much of an issue floating across them.
Once you get to Lignumvitae Key, you will be able to disembark your boat at the main dock. There is also a landing/floating dock just to the south of the main dock for your canoe or kayak.
Boat Tours at Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park
If you would rather not go to the island independently you can always book a tour boat service there.
These are run through a number of local charters. If your visit there happens to be within the months of December to April you can also choose to go on a ranger-led tour of it.
These happen every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 10 am to 2 pm.
Swimming and Snorkeling at Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park
If you want to swim at the park you can do this from the mooring buoy. However this cannot take place within 100 feet of the main dock.
As the area is not lifeguarded you will have to do so at your own risk.
Some local charters provide ecotours which stop for a little while at the island to enable guests to snorkel around it and out towards the reef.
If you want to engage in this activity you will need a diver-down flag and to stay a minimum of 100 feet from any of the docks that are in place there.
Fishing at Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park
Fishing is a popular activity at Lignumvitae Key.
Just like swimming and snorkeling, you won’t be able to do it within 100 feet of any dock. However, when you find a suitable spot, you should expect to catch bonefish, tarpon, snapper, snook and Spanish mackerel.
When in season, you can also snare stone crab and Caribbean spiny lobster too.
Birding at Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park
The park is home to a range of permanent and seasonal bird species including the white-crowned Pigeons.
For a list of what birds you can spot at the park you might want to contact the park’s main office.
Nature & Wildlife
For those who enjoy nature, the park features an incredible virgin tropical forest which is well worth checking out.
Home to over 1000 lignum vitae trees, they are at tremendous sight, especially when their vibrant blue flowers are in bloom during the springtime. Apparently they have fantastic medical properties too.
The woods are one of the densest on earth and are overrun with mosquitos. Unlike the rest of the islands within the Florida Keys, authorities do not spray this one. So you will have to wear full body protection if you intend to venture near it.
In teams of wildlife, you can expect to see everything from dolphins and stingrays to manatees and sharks in the waters around the park.
Pets at Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park
Service dogs are allowed in all areas of Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park.
To confirm the park’s policy regarding domestic pets it is worth contacting the main office.
Camping at Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park
There are no camping facilities available at the park. However within the Florida Keys you will find several other campgrounds where you can stay at.
Between them they offer a range of accommodation options for RVs and trailers, as well as group camps, cabins and primitive tents sites.
Depending on where you stay amenities may include full hookups for water, electric and sewage, flush toilets, hot showers, a swimming pool, playground, laundry and a dump station.
Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park
77200 Overseas Hwy
Islamorada, FL 33036
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park: