Maritime Heritage

Florida has one of the longest continuous coastlines in the country with more than 1,260 miles, not to mention the more than 12,000 miles of fishable rivers, streams and canals. Florida’s water resources and transportation along them have influenced many aspects of our culture. In Florida, there are both prehistoric and historic sites located offshore and in rivers and sinkholes - from submerged Native American canoes and habitation sites to the remains of sunken steamboats and schooners.

Some of Florida’s most impressive maritime sites date from the Colonial Period, such as two ships from the first colonization attempt by Spaniard Tristán de Luna, today known as the Emanuel Point and the Emanuel Point located just off shore in Pensacola Bay.  The site is the oldest European shipwrecks known in Florida and the second oldest in the United States.

Lighthouses are another reminder that Florida’s history and development has been guided by the determination of seafarers and those brave enough to face the uncertainty of the sea.  Learn more about the vital importance of these beacons for Florida history by visiting one of Florida’s many preserved lighthouses and museums.

Find out more about one of Florida’s shipwreck trails today:  1733 Spanish Galleon Trail, Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail, Museums in the Sea, Maritime Heritage Trail.

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Bill Baggs State Recreation Area and Cape Florida Lighthouse

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is the home of a historic lighthouse built in 1825 and reconstructed in 1846, and is the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade County. Cape Florida... Read More

Region: South

County: Monroe

City: Key Biscayne

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John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

The first undersea park in the U.S., John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park encompasses approximately 70 nautical square miles. While the mangrove swamps and tropical hammocks in the... Read More

Region: South

County: Monroe

City: Key Largo

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Sebastian Inlet State Park

Two museums at this State Park provide a history of the area. The McLarty Treasure Museum features the history of the 1715 Spanish treasure fleet; the Sebastian Fishing Museum tells... Read More

Region: Central

County: Brevard

City: Melbourne Beach

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St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum

Discover The Nation's Oldest Port at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate. In the 16th century the Spanish erected a "centinella" on Anatasia... Read More

Region: Northeast

County: St. Johns

City: Saint Augustine

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Pier Aquarium, Inc.

Surrounded by the teeming sea life of Tampa Bay, The Pier Aquarium is a 2,000 sq. ft. private, nonprofit aquarium with live and static exhibits and fully functional outdoor marine education... Read More

Region: Central

County: Pinellas

City: Saint Petersburg

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Mote Aquarium

From its humble beginnings in tiny shed in a small Florida town, Mote Marine Laboratory has expanded to include a 10.5-acre campus in Sarasota, Fla., with field stations and public... Read More

Region: South

County: Sarasota

City: Sarasota

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Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center

The Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center is located on Hutchinson Island. Situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River Lagoon, the 57 acre parcel houses the Society's headquarters,... Read More

Region: South

County: Martin

City: Stuart

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House of Refuge Museum at Gilbert's Bar

One of ten Houses of Refuge built by the U.S. Treasury Department in 1876, this is the only one that remains. Today it stands as a museum celebrating early peoples, life saving efforts,... Read More

Region: South

County: Martin

City: Stuart

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The Florida Aquarium

Discover over 10,000 aquatic plants & animals from Florida and the entire globe! Encounter sharks, rays, gators, river otters, rare sea dragons, a giant green sea turtle & more.... Read More

Region: Central

County: Hillsborough

City: Tampa

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