Bahia Honda, Spanish for “deep bay” is not located on Key West, but it is just a 40 minute drive away. And it is by far my favorite beach in all of the Florida Keys! Bahia Honda State Park has a lot of history. Today, the park encompasses 292 acres of land housing three camping areas, two boat ramps, a marina, a nature center, several picnic areas, and a concession area offering snorkel trips, kayak rentals, snacks, and souvenirs. All of this, along with the amazing beauty of the park makes it a popular destination for campers, boaters, photographers, sunbathers, and snorkelers.
In 1908 Henry Flagler’s Key West Extension of the Florida East Coast Railway began building the Bahia Honda Bridge, one of the most difficult to construct in this project due to strong tides and currents as well as the water depth. In 1912 when the railroad finally opened, Bahia Honda was one of the stops on the way down to Key West. That is until the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 which wiped out the railroad. The railroad was replaced with the Overseas Highway which opened in 1938. Now people can drive to this majestic park and enjoy the stunning scenery and other activities anytime!
Bahia Honda has several picturesque, award winning white sandy beaches. Calusa Beach is the smallest. Loggerhead Beach is the shallowest. You will find small pavilions and a restroom with outdoor fresh water showers between these two beaches. Sandspur Beach is the largest beach. There are several pavilions and a restroom with outdoor fresh water showers here.
Bahia Honda’s gorgeous, clear waters bring visitors from all over to enjoy swimming and snorkeling here. Typically, the water temperature can vary from the high 80s to the low 70s. And you can see a variety of sea life close to shore, such as corals, tropical fish, and lobsters.
Bahia Honda has 3.5-miles of paved road to bike along. Bicycles are only allowed on the roadways; they are not permitted on footpaths, boardwalks or other trails. This is a fun and non-strenuous ride.
Birding and wildlife viewing are popular in the Florida Keys. At Bahia Honda, spotting animals such as dolphin, shorebirds and ghost crabs delight visitors. The flats are a great place to view a variety of shorebirds including Willets, Sanderlings, Ruddy Turnstones, Short-billed Dowitchers and Plovers feeding and resting. And it is not unusual to see Great White Herons, Great Blue Herons, Tri-colored Herons, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets and White Ibis as well. During the fall, hawks are a common sight. And in the summer, White-crowned Pigeons are found in the Poisonwood trees growing throughout the park. You can also find some great wildlife viewing when hiking on the three nature trails at Bahia Honda. The Silver Palm Trail is self-guided with a brochure available. The other trail is located in the Calusa area and leads to the top of the Old Bahia Honda Bridge. From here you can see the entire island and the water below where you will likely see sharks, rays turtles and other fish swimming, jumping, or feeding. The Wings and Waves Butterfly Garden located near the Loggerhead parking lot is a small garden and you will see several butterfly species.
With a marina, two boat ramps, boat tours and kayak rentals offered by the concessionaire, boating is a popular activity at Bahia Honda Stat Park. So, bring your own boat or take a tour and experience some of the most amazing waters that the Florida Keys have to offer.
Picnicking is a fun family activity at Bahia Honda. The Calusa area has many small pavilions with barbecue grills available to rent. The Sandspur area has three pavilions with barbecue grills, as well.
Bahia Honda Park has many camping options. Not exactly camping, the park has three duplex cabins on stilts overlooking the bay that they rent out. I can attest to the fact that the road to the cabins has a very low clearance under the Bahia Honda Bridge; I felt like I might hit my head on it as I bicycled beneath it one day. Actual camping sites are plentiful, but they do sell out well in advance most months. The sites can accommodate large RVs to small tents. All sites have electricity, water, a picnic table and grill. Bathhouse with restrooms and hot showers, and a dump station can be found for campers as well. And with a full marina, you can camp on your boat too! Campers are welcome to join a park ranger at the outdoor amphitheater near the Old Bahia Honda Bridge for campfire circles.
Fishing is probably the most popular activity that people visit the Florida Keys for. And you will find good areas for fishing in Bahia Honda State Park. Fly-fishermen can wade the flats on the Atlantic side for species such as permit, bonefish, tarpon, and barracudas. And bottom fishing for snapper and grouper can be done from the Old Bahia Honda Bridge sea wall. Just make sure that you know the local fishing regulations and that you are properly licensed. Or, if you prefer, give Dream Catcher Charters a call and they will be happy to hook you up on a charter.
Because you won’t find many more places with such amazing scenery, you will often find both professional and amateur photographers at Bahia Honda State Park.
Park Amenities & Information
Only limited access is available for pets. Unfortunately, they are not allowed in the rental cabins, bathhouses, pavilions, the concession building, on beaches or in the water. However, service animals are welcome in all areas of the park.
There are several interpretive exhibits located throughout Bahia Honda. You will learn about the local plant and animal life as well as the rich island history. And you can also visit the Sand and Sea Nature Center everyday from 10:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m.
Bahia Honda State Park is open 365 days a year from 8:00 a.m. until sundown. There is a nominal fee for entrance into the park, and it is well worth the money.
To see what is happening in Key West during your visit, check out our Key West Events Calendar to see upcoming special events. For more information about the fun side of Key West… things to do and see in our island city, go to our Key West Web Site.
Before deciding where you are going to eat while visiting Key West or any of the Florida Keys, be sure to read my restaurant reviews; check out our restaurant review section of this blog.
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Island Genn – Your Key West Concierge