As the largest marine park in the National Park Service system, Biscayne National Park is prominently known for protecting a portion of the world’s third-largest coral reef. Many tourists, however, don’t know that the park was actually home to the one of greatest African-American pioneers and entrepreneurs in Miami-Dade County history, Israel Lafayette Jones.
Jones was born a slave in 1858 in Raleigh, NC and after gaining his freedom, moved to South Florida. There he lived in Coconut Grove working as a successful caretaker and foreman of a Coconut Grove plantation. After a few years, Israel saved enough money to purchase a small island called Porgy Key (which is now known as the southern end of Biscayne National Park) where he moved his young family in 1897.
Today, the Jones home-site on Porgy Key is accessible only via shallow-draft vessels. You can learn more about the history, ecosystem and wildlife by booking a tour today with BNPI where you can paddleboard throughout its many mangrove channels.