Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park | Offshore Excursion
A truly unique day trip, Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park is a tropical hardwood hammock situated just north of the Lower Matecumbe Key and Robbie’s. A rarity now, this offshore island is home to a number tropical tree species, including its namesake lignum vitae, and is one of the last old-growth tropical hammocks in Florida.
Incorporating more than 10,000 acres of surrounding submerged land, the botanical state park protects acres of seagrass beds and is a haven for marine life like manatees, sea turtles, fish and corals. The varying types of habitat within the park attract many fish species, including bonefish in the flats, tarpon and snook in the channels and snapper hanging around rocky outcroppings. Spiny lobster and stone crab are also partial to the area. For birdwatchers, the island is a gem, attracting wading and migratory birds from far and wide.
First inhabited by the Calusa Indians, Lignumvitae Key was formerly purchased in 1919 by Miami chemist William J. Matheson for a beach house escape. Today, that home acts as the park’s visitor’s center and home base for guided tours and educational lessons.
- Admission to the park is $2.50 per person.
- The Matheson House visitor center is open Friday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Guided walking tours of the island embark from the Matheson House at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and cost $2 per person. The tour takes about an hour and a half, touching on the history of the island and its inhabitants as well as the natural surroundings, with wildlife sightings, information on the hardwood trees and more.
- Visitors can access the island by boat through Robbie’s Marina, which runs boat trips to and from the island. Call 305-664-9814 for times and reservations.
- At little less than a mile north of Lower Matecumbe Key and Robbie’s, a kayak trip to the island is relatively easy when the conditions are calm, taking about 20-minutes.
A Keys Spider Lily in bloom in Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park.
Interior and exterior of the Matheson House, now the Visitor Center of Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park.
Photos courtesy of Florida Park Service.