TGIF: First Day Hike Cape Florida Lighthouse

Cape Florida Lighthouse.

Copyrighted Cape Florida Lighthouse by Elaine Marie.

Start the New Year off on the right foot. Experience a day of hiking adventure on January 1. Journey through one of Florida’s most breathtaking ecosystems. Learn about the Top 10 butterflies at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park beginning at 9 am. End the hike with a visit to the Lighthouse.

For more information, call 305–361-5811.


Celebrate Biscayne Bay

Cape Florida Lighthouse.

Cape Florida Lighthouse at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park.

I read an editorial in Coastal Living Magazine with the motto ” find something to celebrate everyday.” It implied celebrating nature promotes longevity and nourishes your soul.


Last Saturday, I found spiritual nourishment while helping with restoration efforts at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. It is the home of one my favorite lighthouses, Cape Florida.  I joined a Park Ranger and volunteers at the State Park for Baynanza.

A truck at the park.

A truck load from one of the areas cleared during Baynanza.

Baynanza culminates month-long environmental festivities in Miami. Baynanza harnesses the energy of thousands of volunteers to clean up several parks and areas near Biscayne Bay.

Trash collected during Baynanza.

Some of the trash collected during Baynanza.

Biscayne Bay is the largest estuary on the coast of southeast Florida. It is the home of the Port of Miami, one of the largest commercial and passenger port of calls in the world. Biscayne Bay is also a part of a large ecosystem that flows directly from the Florida Everglades.

A view of the bay from the park.

A view of Biscayne Bay from Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park.

Biscayne Bay like most estuaries faces many challenges. Keeping the Bay ecologically heathy while meeting the needs of a growing community is a major concern. Events like Baynanza educate and involve the community in addressing these challenges.

For more information on Biscayne Bay visit,

Vacation with a Purpose in Miami

Volunteer at Cape Florida.

Volunteer to cleanup Cape Florida, Key Biscayne.

Eco tourism and volunteer tourism is one of the fastest growing segments of the travel market. Vacation and volunteer in sunny Miami at “Baynanza” on April 16. Join thousands of volunteers who gather to clean up the Biscayne Bay. “Baynanza” is the highlight of Miami’s month-long environmental celebration.

A couple of years ago I joined a group of volunteers for a trip to Henry Flagler Monument Island near South Beach. After a hearty and healthy breakfast courtesy of Whole Foods, we began our journey. We departed by speedboat from Maurice Gibbs Park for Monument Island. A few souls braved the bay on kayaks donated by South Beach Kayak.

View of Monument Island.

View of Monument Island.

At Monument Island, Ecocom’s Luis Rodrigues talked about the impact of plastics on our environment. I learned that plastics are photodegradable. Even when plastic disintegrates into smaller pieces it attracts other chemicals and contaminates the water and disrupts the food chain. The tiniest piece of plastic makes a huge impact because it is consumed more easily by wild life. As we trekked through the island, we found an abundance of trash like sanitary items, Styrofoam cups, paper plates, liquor bottles, Styrofoam blocks, etc. By the end of the venture, we filled 40 bags!

Pioneer statue

“Pioneer” Statue surveying the Island.

During the outing, I must confess to taking a few snapshots of the memorial to Henry Flagler. The monument had four statues—Pioneer, Education, Industry, and Prosperity—representing what I consider the four pillars of Flagler’s character. A Standard oil tycoon, Flagler, built a railroad from Jacksonville to Key West to transport the rich and famous. Not only a man of great wealth but also of great generosity and vision, Flagler built schools and churches along Florida’s east coast. His legacy as the Father of Florida tourism continues today in the Sunshine state.

Biscayne Bay is a lagoon approximately 35 miles long. In 1975, the bay was designated as a Florida aquatic preserve. A second preserve was soon added off of Cape Florida on Key Biscayne. These two preserves are now managed by the state under the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves. For more information, visit

Take a hike

Cape Florida Lighthouse.

Copyrighted Cape Florida Lighthouse by Elaine Marie.

Walk off those holiday pounds. Explore Florida’s breathtaking ecosystem. Discover interesting facts about native plants and animals. Journey through Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park on January 1 from 9-11 am. Limited to 30 people. Free with regular park admission.

For more information, call 305-361-5811.

Hidden Light

Jupiter inlet lighthouse.

Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse.

Lighthouses tend to recall the idyllic and simple days of the past. However, some lighthouses are guarded by the Department of Homeland Security and require persistence to get a close glance. That was the case with Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse.

My first painting was of Amelia Island Lighthouse located in Northern Florida. There was not even a sign nearby to indicate where the Lighthouse was. However, I was able to spend a few hours painting on the grounds on a sunny day.

My second painting was at the beautiful Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park where I casually painted the Cape Florida Lighthouse. Located on Key Biscayne, this park remains true to the vision and legacy of its founder William Calhoun Baggs. He was the editor of the Miami News for 1956-1969 who dreamed of a beautiful public park in this billionaire playground. I spoke with the Park Services Specialist, Art, who provided insight and helpful information on the park.