Bahia Honda State Park is located on Bahia Honda Key in the city of Big Pine Key found in central Monroe county. Bahia Honda is renowned for its picturesque beaches with clear water and soft sands. Lay on the shore and watch the spectacular sunsets that frame the old railroad bridge. The shallow waters (4-6 feet) make it a nice place to snorkel or for beginner scuba divers. Snorkel gear can be rented from the park's concession as well as kayaks. Picnic areas and shady spots abound for visitors to relax and enjoy the balmy sea breezes on the shore. Boat excursions are offered to the nearby reef or you can launch your own vessel for fishing and snorkeling offshore. Spend a day at Bahia Honda or book a camping site or cabin to make it into a longer vacation. Nature lovers will never cease to be in wonder with all of the island's plants, animals and the park's nature exhibits.
Bahia Honda's white sand beaches can be found on the northwest, south and southeast sides of the island (Bahia Key). Largest of the 3 beaches is Sandspur Beach which has 3 large pavilions, fresh water showers, and a restroom. Loggerhead Beach may be best for beginning swimmers and snorkelers as it is the most shallow. There is a large shallow sandbar not too far off the beach. It's on the south side of the island and shares it's restroom facilities with the smaller Calusa Beach.
Families that enjoy interacting with the sealife surrounding them may choose to fish or kayak the area. Bottom fishing is great on both sides of the old Bahia Honda Bridge seawalls for snapper, grouper, grunt and many others. Fly-fishing is best on the Atlantic side of the island where the sand flats are located. No catching of tropical fish or spearfishing is ever allowed. Please educate yourself on seasons, size, and number as well as pick up a fishing license before fishing in the park which extends out into the water by 400 feet. Snorkeling within those waters is some of the best that can be done so close to the shore in the Keys. The clear shallow waters allow swimmers to see gorgeous tropical fish, corals, conch and lobsters. The water never is colder than the mid to low 70s and the currents are mild.
If bicycling is more your thing, there is a 3+ mile paved bike path at the state park to enjoy. Bicycles are also allowed on the park's roadways but not on the footpaths, boardwalks, or the Bridge trail. All riders under the age of 16 are required to wear their helmets while within the park. Hikers can enjoy three nature trails. The most popular is the trail found near the Calusa area of the island leads to the top of the railway bridge for spectacular views of the entire island. As a bonus you can usually spot colorful native butterflies en route or see sea life like sting rays or sea turtles when looking off the bridge. Another popular trail is the Silver Palm Trail which is located at the southeast end of the island in Sandspur. Pick up a self-guided tour pamphlet to make your hike more informative.
The Sand and Sea Nature Center is open only over an extended weekend- Thursday through Monday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Step inside to learn more about the local flora, fauna and sea life. Learn about the life of the coral and see all it's variety. Check out some unusual urchins, sponges, crabs, and shells found around Bahia Honda. While you explore the park you can find interpretive exhibits throughout as well.
Fans of Geo-caching can take the Bahia Honda challenge called the Nature & History Quest. You can find out more about this Earthcache at www.geocaching.com. here are 4 geocaches with the geocache codes of Henry Flagler's View-GC2MVRJ, Wings and Waves-GC1MBAR, Picnic in Paradise-GC26FEE, Silver Palm-GC1MD7X. Get out your GPS and go "treasure hunting"! Once you complete the Quest go to the Sand and Sea Nature Center to claim your prize!
Camping overnight at Bahia Honda State Park is so sought after that you usually have to book your sites about 11 months in advance! Adorable stilt cabins overlook the bay with parking underneath them. There are 3 campgrounds within the park: Bayside, Buttonwood and Sandspur. These campgrounds can accomodate anything from a tent to large RVs. One of the cabins has a wheelchair lift for accessiblity and each one comes equipped with all you need for a comfortable couple of evenings in the park. Cabins can hold up to 6 guests and do not have any televisions or telephones (you're camping, remember?). The park occasionally has campfire programs and other fun activities for those who overnight. If you own a boat, Bahia Honda also rents up to 19 slips to boaters wishing to stay the night and it includes full use of the park facilities, water, and electric.