Crandon Park’s North Beach
Crandon Park and Beaches Overview
Crandon Park’s North Beach is on the island of Key Biscayne, just east of Miami and south of Miami Beach. The island is accessed via an overseas causeway with an amazing view of the water, so getting there is half the fun. The center of the island is developed with condos and apartment towers, shops, and single-family homes. This part of Key Biscayne is one of Miami’s swankier enclaves.
Crandon Park Beach has two sections, North & South Beach. Crandon’s two beaches are among the most popular beaches in South Florida and cover two miles along the Atlantic side of Key Biscayne. I’m going to be discussing the North section and why I like it so much. I think you will too.
The south and north ends of Key Biscayne each contain a large park. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park makes up the southern portion of the island and contains the Cape Florida Lighthouse. The lighthouse, built in 1825, is Miami Dade County’s oldest structure. More on this in another post.
The northern part of the island contains a golf course, marina, tennis center, Nature Center, the Bear Cut Preserve, and Crandon Park Beach.
The two sections of Crandon Park Beach are slightly different from each other. The Southern section of Crandon Beach can get pretty busy on weekends, especially in the summer months. This section has a wider sandy shoreline area and clearer waters. The Northern section of the beach starts to narrow at Lifeguard Stands 1,2, and 3. North of Stand 1 there is a very thin stretch of shoreline. Under the water in the north section are seaweed beds mixed in with clear sandy sections including a sandbar that is exposed during low tide.
The video below shows you an aerial view of Crandon Park Beach. The flyover starts near the South Beach area with larger stretches of white sand and ends with the last three lifeguard stands in the North Beach section. So, get ready for a whirlwind tour of this great stretch of beach.
Crandon’s North Beach is Perfect for Avoiding Crowds
You would think that a beach is a beach, but South Florida beaches vary greatly. Some have buildings, some have big crowds, some are great for families, and some have a very natural setting with no buildings at all. One beach that has smaller crowds is Crandon Park’s North Beach.
North Beach can get busier on summer weekends, but on weekdays it can feel like your own private beach. This is especially true in the winter months. Now I love the glamour of Miami Beach’s South Beach with its Art Deco buildings or the boardwalk at Hollywood Beach, but sometimes a quiet beach with only an occasional passerby is just what you need.
Crandon Park Beach is much more a local’s beach and much less touristy. The waves are stronger at North Beach, and you’ll see kiteboarders flocking to this beach, though you can’t bring your own boards. There is a concession that will rent you boards and kayaks. There’ll be more on them below.
There are no buildings when you look back from the water (except an occasional lifeguard stand and one small concession – Miami Kiteboarding. It looks very natural on the north end. You can see Lifeguard Stand One in the panorama above. There are plenty of palms and Seagrape trees, but nothing very tall since the occasional hurricane will clear out the taller trees. It looks like you landed on a remote tropical island. Well, one that happens to have lifeguard stands.
I usually arrive early just after sunrise on weekdays and sit on the sand in a beach chair. In the early mornings, just a few people walking by. This is a great beach for couples or someone looking to get away from the large crowds you’ll see on other beaches. You can take a walk, go for a swim, or just sit back, relax, and listen to the crashing waves.
Most of the photos here were taken on a Tuesday morning between 10:00 a.m. and noon in October. I left around 1:00 p.m. and the beach was still pretty empty.
The image below shows you the general layout of the north end of Crandon Park Beach. When you enter Key Biscayne, you will be driving south on Crandon Blvd. The parking lots for the beach are on Crandon Blvd. heading north, but there are places to turn and cross into Crandon Park Beach from the southbound lanes as well. Look for the signage that identifies North Beach.
You can see the park’s layout in this aerial view of the North end of Crandon Park Beach
Explore the Marine Life on the Seagrass Beds
In the water at North Beach, there are sandy patches and scattered seagrass beds. I am not a big fan of walking barefoot on the seagrass. Don’t judge. Perhaps this is one of your pastimes, to each his own. The grassy areas do contain marine life, though mostly small creatures. You find schools of small fish, some crabs, sea stars, sea urchins, horseshoe crabs, and other marine life.
School children on field trips wade through the seagrass habitat and drag a small net over the top of the grass. The Seagrass Adventure is led by naturalists from the nearby Nature Center. They will almost always scoop up a variety of small creatures that make these beds their home. After viewing their catch, they will release them back to the grass beds. Snorkel over these areas if you want to see who is scurrying around.
The other areas in the water are white sandy stretches that are perfect for swimming. At low tide, the sandbar will become exposed, allowing people to walk around or sit in beach chairs until the high tide returns. It is a great place for photographs.
Other Activities – Kiteboarding – The Nature Center – Hiking Paths
Miami Kiteboarding is a concession that rents kiteboards, kayaks, and paddleboards. The concession is located by Lifeguard Stand Three. They also offer kayak tours and kiteboarding lessons if you are a newbie or need a refresher course.
Lessons are also available in private, semi-private, and for youth. Foil, Wing Foil, and E-Foil lessons are available. These lessons are provided by IKO-certified instructors and can be from 2 hours to 15 hours as of the writing of this post. Pricing depends on the type and duration and can run from $240 to $1,890.
Personal kayaks and paddleboards are not permitted. They must be rented from Miami Kiteboarding. Personal paddleboards and kayaks can be launched from the Crandon Marina. Get all the information at their website: Miami Kiteboarding.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center
The north end of the parking lot has an entrance to a path that leads up to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center. The Nature Center has several exhibits on the local animal life, and there are a few aquariums. There is a large presentation room used for gatherings such as art exhibits. You will also find a small gift shop. The Nature Center is open 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Admission is free.
Bear Cut Preserve Hiking and Tours
The 165-acre Bear Cut Preserve offers you the chance to see what the area originally looked like before Miami was settled and developed. The preserve gets its name from the Florida Black Bear that once made the island its home. Bear Cut Preserve has been designated a Natural Environmental Study Area. There are self-guided or naturalist-led tours through the surrounding hardwood hammocks, mangrove forests, and seagrass beds.
There is a fossilized reef about a half mile north of Lifeguard Station One. You can reach the reef by following along the beach or by the Fossil Reef Bike Trail. The reef has been dated to 64 A.D. and is above water at low tide.
There are multiple EcoAdventures: “Bike and Hike,” “Expedition South Florida” and the “Sea Turtle Awareness Program” as well. There are a variety of trails through the Bear Cut Preserve for you to explore. The Osprey Beach, Fossil Reef Bike Trail, and the Bear Cut Nature Trail can be found branching out from just north of the Nature Center. The trails provide a chance to see the variety of ecosystems and the animal life that make up the northern part of Key Biscayne.
Be alert and stay on the various paths. There are a few poisonous plants scattered around the trails including Poisonwood. Touching them produces a reaction similar to Poison Ivy. The Rosary Pea is a plant with black and red seeds that are very poisonous if swallowed. The Nature Center can show you what to avoid if you hike the paths. Bear Cut is home to a wide variety of birds including osprey, hawks, Egrets, Herons, and wading birds. The birds are joined by iguanas, raccoons, opossums, Atala Butterflies, Monarch Butterflies, and Yellow Rat Snakes. Some of these are pretty hard to come across. I’ve never seen an opossum or any snakes at all. You would probably have to stray from the path to see them.
A Few Things You Should Know About
These beaches have been pretty safe for me. There are, however, some practical things to remember. Some seem obvious, but you’d be surprised what people do.
I already mentioned the poisonous trees and vines. Get to know the look of these to avoid any accidental contact. You can get more info at the Nature Center before you begin your hike. You’re fine if you stay on the path, but some people wander into the brush.
Look to the lifeguard stands to see if there are any warnings posted. They also fly different color flags to indicate what is going on. There is much more on this at Jellyfish Season in Miami What to Do If You Are Stung.
Here are a Few Related Posts for Beachgoers
I have a number of posts with useful information for beachgoers who aren’t used to visiting Miami’s beaches.
Can You Swim at the Beaches in Miami in December will give you all the facts on what it’s like to visit the beaches in the wintertime in Miami. Read this one if you might want to trade in shoveling snow for building sandcastles.
Are The Beaches Safe in Miami and What to Watch Out For explores some of the things you may want to be aware of. It covers those cute little things like sea urchins, sunburns, pretty but poisonous Lionfish, sting rays, and many more.
Jellyfish Season in Miami & What to Do If You Are Stung will show you how to avoid letting jellyfish ruin your day. At the right time of the year, Miami’s jellyfish can be little underwater ninjas. Take my word for it, you’ll want to read this one before you hit the waves.
South Pointe Park – Miami Beach describes the park at the southern end of Miami Beach.
South Pointe Park is located next to the channel cruise ships used to come and go from the port of Miami. It can be a great place to get amazing photos of these massive ships.
Check the time and days that the ships are arriving or departing. The park has a pier that looks down at South Pointe Beach. This post will show you great photos of the ships and the beach.
Hours | Admission | Location | Directions
Crandon Park Beaches & The Nature Center
Hours of Operation:
The Beaches: open daily – 9 am to 5 pm.
The Nature Center: open daily – 9:00 am – 3:00 pm.
Miami Kitesurfing: open daily – 10:00 am – 6:00 pm in Spring & Summer – 9:00 am – 5:00 pm in Fall & Winter.
For pricing kitesurfing, kayaks, or lessons see their site here: Miami Kiteboarding.
Parking: The parking fee is $7.00 to access Crandon’s beaches.
The fee for the beach is just the parking fee: $7.00.
The fee for the Nature Center is a whopping $0, it’s free. There are fees for guided tours and special events.
Location & Contact
6767 Crandon Boulevard
Key Biscayne, FL
Directions to Crandon Park’s North Beach:
- Take I-95 or US 1 to the Key Biscayne Exit
- Follow signs to the Rickenbacker Causeway.
- Continue until you see the Crandon Park signs.
- Take the North Beach Entrance into Crandon Park.
- When you enter the parking lot, drive past the toll booth and turn left.
- Continue to the end of the parking lot.
- The entrance to the Nature Center is located at the Northern end of the park.
- If you find yourself in the village of Key Biscayne, you’ve gone too far. A U-turn will have you headed back toward Crandon Park Beach and the Nature Center.
Remember: As always, it is a good idea before you visit any attraction or beach, that you check for the most current updates on possible water quality, environmental issues, rip tides, weather alerts, weather policies, special events, block out days & closures, scheduled maintenance, restrictions, parking, current fees, and other considerations. Visit a location’s website or call directly for current information. Stay safe and informed!
- Crandon Park’s North Beach – Explore This Beautiful Beach
- Pinecrest Gardens – Miami’s Hidden Tropical Oasis
- Coral Gables House – Home of Gables Founder George Merrick
- The Miami Art Scene: Part 3 – Art Festivals & Events
- The Miami Art Scene: Part 2 – Art Galleries
- The Miami Art Scene: Part 1 – Miami’s Art Museums
- South Pointe Park – Miami Beach
- Christmas in Miami – 16 Things To Do During Christmas & The Holidays
I’d love to hear from you. Tell me what places you want to read about. Leave your comments or suggestions below!