On top of all our lovely inhabitants, Miami is blessed with an entire landscape of beautiful mother nature.
There’s a truly unique blend of plants and animals that from time-to-time we should sit back and appreciate. These, in conjunction with all our beautiful dogs we see running around the 305 daily, give us a truly mindblowing collection of nature to gawk at.
Whether it’s gators in the Everglades or the crashing waterfalls of Jungle Island, this is your guide of where to catch the very best of Miami’s natural environment.
1. Biscayne National Underwater Park
If you’re into water sports and other activities then you best head over to Biscayne National Underwater Park. This natural park is 95% underwater and is home to over 600 different kinds of native fishes, neo-tropical water birds as well as 20 endangered species including manatees, sea turtles, the Schaus’ swallowtail butterfly and the semaphore cactus! Grab a canoe or a glass-bottom boat tour or go snorkeling and scuba diving to discover Miami’s rarest marine fauna!
2. Everglades National Park
You’ve probably been told to go hundreds of times already. With good reason too! And if you haven’t, what have you got against the Alligators, huh? Simply the emperor of all wildlife spots in Miami, watching over all that lies north of it as it sits in its south-Floridian throne. With over 40 species of mammal, 50 unique reptiles and 300 types of fish spread across 1,509,000 acres, it’s an understatement to say it’s hard to know where to start. Wander among swathes of exquisite greenery, sighting Alligators, Pythons and countless other beautiful species in this peerless utopia.
3. Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center
This sanctuary offers refuge to endangered native and migratory birds in the area. The rehabilitation center is comprised of a bird hospital and an education center as well as 12 acres of wetland that serve as home to more than 100 residents rescued birds and other native flora and fauna. If you’ve got a passion for flying fauna you can go visit this wonderful center that is open for visitors. The Rehabilitation center also has a “birdgency” hotline you can call if you happen to run into a poor little bird that could use your help!
4. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Grab a canoe, dinghy or motorboat and go exploring the park’s beautiful coral reef life. If you enjoy swimming you can also go snorkeling through the area to discover its wonderful marine fauna. We suggest heading over to Dry Rocks or Molasses Reef. Its shallow waters make it especially good for snorkeling!
5. Jungle Island
After suffering damage during Hurricane Irma, Jungle Island thankfully reopened after restoration work in 2018. Coined as an “eco-adventure park” on Watson Island, it combines outdoor activity with rare and tropical wildlife. Zip-line through the exotic trees inhabited by 1,000 species of parrot and feed the bright flamingos. The island also boasts snapping turtles, a lemur interaction experience, boa constrictors and a chance to hang out with some sleepy sloths. Jungle Island is a must for any wildlife fanatic.
6. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
This vast sawgrass marsh provides habitat to more than 250 bird species, 60 different types of reptiles, 40 types of butterflies and 20 species of mammals as well as providing shelter to endangered species such as the American alligator, snail kite, and wood stork. Go walking, hiking canoeing or bird-watching throughout its 226 square miles and discover the only surviving remnant of the Northern Everglades.
7. Matheson Hammock Park
A gorgeous beach setting around a shimmering lagoon. This is a perfect, family-friendly location with plenty of activities and wildlife spotting to get lost in. If birdwatching is your forte, this is the spot for you. Look out for the chestnut-fronted Macaw, red-bellied Woodpecker, Immature Red-Tailed Hawk, and flocks of other species.
It’s also home to some beautiful lizards. Red-headed Agama’s, among others, can be spotted scurrying across the trees. But be sharp! Blink and you’ll miss ’em. If you’re lucky, you might even catch some dozy manatees bubbling below the water’s surface!
8. Miami Beach
Yes, the most popular spot in Miami, go figure. It’s mostly known as the spot to relax with a Piña Colada, or the host of many a fiesta. But, the stunning wildlife that surrounds it, while associated less with the celebrated spot, can never be overstated. Most prominent, of course, are the vibrant green iguanas that roam the paths and trees. In addition, Miami’s stretch of beach is also home to three endangered species of turtle, along with dolphins that roam the waters and a host of migratory birds. In short, there’s plenty to catch the eye while sippin’ that cocktail.
9. National Key Deer Refuge
Marvel at the endangered Key deer at the National Key Deer Refuge. This incredibly cute species almost went extinct as a consequence of poaching and loss of habitats which had left fewer than 50 of these tiny creatures until the refuge’s inception back in 1957. Now you can go visit the refuge and gawk at over 600 of them, but just make sure to drive slowly and definitely not feed them.
10. Oleta River State Park
A vast scape of water and trails to lose yourself in. If you’ve decided to take to the waters on a canoe, you’ll surely encounter areas dwarfed by trees. Keep an eye out for rare birds and fish as you wade through these stretches. But, as with the everglades, be cautious of the gators that patrol the water or trails in Oleta. (Don’t forget to marvel at them from afar, though.) You’ll also come across wild lantana plants with multiple butterfly species fluttering around in the grassy knolls. Oleta is a dazzling stretch of land with magnificent clusters of Miamian grandeur.
Feature image: @evergladesnps