Biscayne National Park Loses Concessionaire For Snorkeling, Dive Tours
Biscayne Underwater, which offered snorkeling and scuba tours at Biscayne National Park, has abruptly gone out of business, leaving the park without a concessionaire to offer those services.
“This just happened yesterday. They closed their store, they’re not running tours anymore. No rentals, nothing. That’s as much as I know," Matt Johnson, the national park's public affairs officer, said Wednesday. "They closed up shop abruptly and they're not offering any tours."
A message left for the company's owner was not immediately returned Wednesday. The company's website said only that "all operations ceased."
For a number of years Biscayne Underwater, which also rented paddle boats, had been operating in the park on a year-to-year contract, but earlier this year was awarded a 10-year contract, according to Mr. Johnson.
According to the park spokesman, the business averaged between 10,000 and 15,000 customers a year at Biscayne. In years gone by the company also offered glass-bottom boat tours in the national park, but those disappeared about a year-and-a-half ago, said Mr. Johnson.
During the winter months Biscayne Underwater would also offer boat tours to Boca Chita, home to "Biscayne National Park's de facto symbol, ... the 65-foot ornamental lighthouse built by Mark Honeywell, one of the island's former owners, in the 1930s."
"The lighthouse is open intermittently whenever park staff or volunteers are on the island. The observation deck provides a fantastic view of the islands, bay, ocean, and the Miami, Key Biscayne, and Miami Beach skylines," the park website says.
Mr. Johnson did not know how quickly the park could find a new concessionaire to offer the snorkeling, diving, paddle boat rentals, and boat tours. In a park whose footprint is 95 percent water, the lack of such services could severely impact visitors.